Mark E. Buckley


Why be ethical? Is there a business benefit to being honest? Is there a cost to being moral?

Yes, in fact you can make your operations more efficient by being ethical. If you are honest and trustworthy then several benefits will accrue.

Your employees will learn to trust you over time. They will not spend countless hours questioning your directives and the motives behind them. You will be able to delegate more effectively. You will be able to critique performance without a hidden agenda being inferred.

Your customers will learn that you deliver on your promises. They will be forgiving of the infrequent mistake because they know you are making your best effort. They will not look for excuses, because they know you do not make them.

Your financial records will be accurate. You will pay what you legitimately owe in taxes. No More. No Less. Because your finances are accurate you can correctly gauge how you are doing.

By being ethical you will be less prone to litigation. If you meet your contractual obligations and do not intentionally harm others, there is little you could be found liable for.

Why not sleep the sleep of the just. Wouldn't that be great for your own productivity?

Why aren't business people more honest? Ethics involves the calculation of short term costs versus long term benefits. People will often choose the expedient path. Why admit to a customer that you made a mistake when you can blame someone else? Why tell employees that cash flow is tight when you could instead promise them raises they will never receive?

Ethics also means treating people as ends and not means. Our marketing driven business world sees each customer as a means to increased revenue. The discussion rarely turns to how we can assist customers and meet their needs.

Ethics requires that the ends do not justify the means. But often in business the only goals are quarterly profits, increased revenue, new business growth, additional units, etc. Rarely are business practices and shared corporate values discussed. Well, yes, they are discussed at the employee meetings, but they were never discussed in any management meetings I was involved in.

Applying ethical principles to your business operations will make you more effective and efficient. But you will never see this broken down on a spread sheet. It is a matter of faith and wisdom.