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Business Rendezous for January 2007Business ethics



Ethics addresses questions of right and wrong. It involves learning what is right or wrong, and then doing the right thing while having consideration for the welfare of the people around you. Acting ethically in business should be something that all entrepreneurs and business persons value highly. They should also encourage their employees to engage in the right practices so that whatever they do in the course of conducting business does not cause harm to others physically or otherwise.{{more}} Businesses that engage in ethical practices also do not have to worry about facing penalties from the authorities and developing hostile employee and community relationships.

Where there is evidence of unethical behaviour in businesses it is more than likely that this is a reflection of the lack of ethical values on the part of the business leadership that is the entrepreneur or his or her managers and supervisors. To build an ethical culture within a business those in the leadership must set the right example. Apart from doing the right thing themselves, they must also support employees who want to stick to principles.

Identifying the practices that constitute unethical behaviour will help you to avoid them in your business operation. The following are some common unethical practices:

1. Putting old parts in new equipment, machinery or appliances and selling them as new.

2. Lying to customers about results of diagnostic tests for example telling a customer that something is wrong so that you can get more money to fix a non-existent problem.

3. Fraudulent reporting of income and expenses for income tax purposes

a. Claiming personal expenses as business expenses.

b. Concealing some income

4. Failure to show respect to employees.

5. Theft of or wrongful use of the business assets and resources.

6. Asking employees to do things that you know are not right such as removing expiry dates from items.

7. Appraising employees based on personality and not performance.

8. Sexually harassing employees.

9. Improperly disposing of garbage and waste generated by your business.

10. Refusing to implement safety measures to prevent accidents because they are too costly.

11. Employing persons who have entered illegally into the country.

12. Giving or receiving kickbacks so that you can receive contracts.

13. Mismanagement of contracts, for example, delaying the time of completion for constructing a house and asking for more money from the homeowner.

14. Falsely advertising your products to deceive buyers intentionally.

15. Not being concerned about how your products and services and the actions of your business affect your employees, the community and society as a whole.

16. Non-compliance with laws and regulations such as payment of employees’ NIS deductions to the NIS office.

Entrepreneurs must remember that to have a good business they and their employees should engage in ethical practices.

Submitted by the Centre for Enterprise Development Inc. First Floor Methodist Building Granby Street, P.O. Box 2343. Kingstown, St. Vincent. CED is a non-profit company that provides business development services to the local private sector. Contact us at Tel: 784-451-2235-6 Fax: 784-451-2237 email [email protected], [email protected], or visit us on the web at