Business ethics, wow that is a heavy topic, eh(that is a Canadian eh)? There are institutes for business ethics, there are many universities focused on the subject, there are magazines devoted to the subject … and of course there are many horror stories on the subject of business ethics.
Today I’m not really talking about Enron, Worldcom or some huge corporation, I’m talking about the day to day decisions business leaders like myself need to make. Should I sign a contract that I know I cannot deliver to … even if the client has dictated the problem? Should I agree to a margin rate that is not acceptable because it will give me market share at the expense of my competition, but continue to erode our industry’s already skinny profits? Should I accept responsibility for service level agreements knowing that nobody can step up to them and eventually the client will figure that out?
The “pragmatic” bottom-line focused business person will say, “do whatever it takes to get the business and deal with the issues as they come”. There is certainly an argument that says if that’s what the client wants then give it to him.
Alternately you could ask yourself, “Is this consistent with the core values of my company?”. “Am I contributing to a situation that is detrimental to the client, my industry and certainly my competition just to make a few bucks?”
Its tough to walk away from business, but if you are not going to be true to your core values where is that “line in the sand”? When do you slide to the depths of the latest corporate scandal?
I believe you have to build a company based on principles, not on dollars!