From what we choose to wear in the morning to what we decide to eat for dinner at night, we are constantly making decisions. Though everyday decisions seem inconsequential and repetitive, they set the foundation for what we will do and how we will do it. In business and in our personal lives it is important to make decisions that are a representation of who we are and what we want to accomplish.
It is important to always make decisions that are right for you. But sometimes we need to consider the bigger picture when making a decision. This is especially true when we are talking about making decisions that affect the health or livelihood of others. Though in most cases we will not be faced with making life or death decisions, it is important to consider ethics when making decisions in business.
This article will detail why ethical decision making is important for your business, why you should make ethical decisions, and how it can affect your success. Read our tips below to help you get a better understand of why ethical decision making is important.
What Does Ethical Decision Making Mean?
As a philosophy, ethics are the principles that guide a person’s behaviour. Though there are many ethical opinions that most people share, ethics will differ from person to person. This is due to the fact that our ethics are shaped by our moral code. In general, most people will agree that it is not ok to steal from others and we would also likely agree that harming someone else is wrong.
But what about other parts of our lives? Our moral code is shaped by our cultural upbringing and surroundings. What is wrong to one community of people may be completely normal to another. In some areas of the world it is acceptable for children to work in factories while in North America the thought of it is abhorrent.
In order to make ethical decisions we must consider our own personal beliefs while also considering our communities moral standards. For example, Live & Learn provides a great article on culture values and belief of Canadians. When we make decisions that go against the values, or morals, of our community we are often seen as being unethical.
Why Should I Make Ethical Decisions?
If you are an entrepreneur, then you are likely the face of or the person responsible for your business. There are many reasons why you would want to make ethical decisions for your business and these decisions can directly impact the success of your business. Below are some great reasons why it is important to reflect on both your personal and community ethics when making business decisions.
Your reputation matters – your customers and community like to see that you are more than just a money maker. People will want to buy from you or use your services if they believe you are a good and ethical person. Be honest and fair with those you interact with and that is the reputation you will build for yourself.
It can bring you business – when you make ethical decisions you consider the feelings and needs of others. Treating your customers with respect is an ethical decision you can make. In many cases this will return to by having others refer you. Being ethical helps build trust.
You feel good about it – by being true to yourself you will feel good about the ethical decisions you make. Many people report that they find gift giving more rewarding than receiving a gift. Though that is not an ethical analogy it does speak to the importance of doing good for others. Being honest is part of being ethical and you will likely feel good about being an ethical business person.
What Type of Ethical Decisions Can I Make?
There are many areas in business where we can choose to make ethical decisions. Though we may feel societal pressure to do everything “perfectly” there is no right answer for every business. Consider what is important to you and what you stand for as a business. Some areas you can consider when making either business decisions are:
- Paying fair and living wages
- Offering work life balance
- Hiring minorities such as women, disabled people or members of the LGBTQ community
- Sourcing products that are Fair Trade
- Having flexible return or refund policies
- Donating part of your profits
You don’t have to do all (or any) of these things. But ethical decisions can be made in nearly every area of your business. If you struggle with making decisions you may find our article “How to Become a Better Decision Maker” helpful.
How Does Ethical Decision Making Affect Success?
Part of ethical decision making is doing the right thing for yourself. Though this may sound selfish it doesn’t have to be. How you define success is an important part of becoming successful. In our previous article “How Do People Define Success” we talk about the different ways that we can measure success. This articles might help you find perspective on what matters to you and guide you in making ethical decisions.
Sometimes our business decisions can affect the lives of others. If you are driven by monetary success you may need to consider at what cost that comes to others. Paying fair wages while still taking a profit for yourself could be considered an ethical decision for many business owners and entrepreneurs. Others may find that operating their business of an environmentally sustainable philosophy brings them a sense of accomplishment. Our own personal ethics and morals will shape what ethical business decisions are important to use.
What If I Don’t Know What to Do?
If you are feeling stuck and unsure of how to get started with making both ethical and everyday decisions it may be a good time to ask for help. Consider speaking with a good entrepreneur coach. Your entrepreneur coach will help you get unstuck and find success by helping you discover what you want from your business and how to take real action towards making your dreams of success a reality.