When running a small business, we are faced with many obstacles,

  • Handling confidential information.

  • Controlling behavior with both internal and external customers.

  • Abiding to the law and legislation.

Owning a business means having to deal with the human aspect and all that comes with it.
Often we are faced with difficult situations that we do not know how to handle.

Ethical principles are ground rules for decision making in a business -not just factors to consider.
It is okay to lose. Ethically, it is preferable to lose than to lie, steal, or cheat in order to win.

People who are unwilling to lose, are often willing to do whatever it takes to win, .i.e.. to act in an unethical manner.

Ethics (Greek ethika, from ethos, “character”, “custom”) can be defined as principles or standards of human conduct, sometimes referred to as morals.

Ethics refers to standards of conduct; standards that indicate how we should behave based on moral duties and virtues. These come from the principles of right and wrong. Ethics and morals go hand-in-hand. Laws are necessary to balance morality and ethics; Laws are a vital element in the ongoing, dynamic relationship between ethics and morality.

The basic principles of personal ethics include:

  • Concern for the well-being of others.

  • Respect for the autonomy of others.

  • Trustworthiness and honesty.

  • Willing compliance with the law.

  • Basic justice, being fair.

  • Refusing to take unfair advantage.

  • Benevolence: doing good.

  • Preventing harm.

  • Don’t play the blame game.

  • Personal ethics is really about personal responsibility.

  • Taking responsibility for your actions is a part of building character.

  • Taking responsibility for your mistakes shows courage.

  • You are legally liable for bad ethical choices.

Ethics are shaped by our personal values. This directly affects our daily choices.

Our values come from our:

  • Family

  • Culture

  • Religion

  • Past experiences

  • The law of the country

Ten personal values for successful business ethics …

Respect – respect people, laws, and property.
Teamwork –
work openly and supportively with others, aiming towards common goals.
Leadership –
show leadership in areas where you are strong.
Citizenship –
build a workplace that protects health and welfare of employees, your community, and your environment.
Shareholder value –
build a profitable company that will have stability and prosperity.
Honesty – believe that honesty is the best policy and live by it.
Integrity – always take the high road.
Responsibility – always take responsibility for your actions.
Quality – strive for quality in every aspect of your work.
Trust – build the trust of employees, supervisors, customers, and the community.

Good ethics means:

  • Play by the rules.

  • Make ethics a part of your everyday business.

  • Do your homework – know the rules.

  • Help others make good choices.

  • Be a role model of good ethics.

A code of conduct specifies actions and behaviors to be followed in the workplace. It should contain examples of appropriate behavior in order to be meaningful.

Developing a code of business ethics and conduct will not stop unethical behaviour, but it will give people something to think about, a measurement against which to assess their behavior. The code of ethics will serve as a framework for decisions you make, as well as to guide your staff.

A Code of Ethics helps you to:

  • define accepted / unacceptable behaviours;

  • promote high standards of practice;

  • provide a benchmark for staff to use for self evaluation;

  • establish a framework for professional behaviour and responsibilities;

  • establish the identity of your business;

Principles of professional ethics include:

  • Impartiality; objectivity.

  • Honesty.

  • Openness; full disclosure.

  • Confidentiality.

  • Due diligence / duty of care.

  • Adherence to professional responsibilities.

  • Avoiding potential or apparent conflict of interest.

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