A friend of mine recently said to me that companies hesitate to spend money on ethical training because they feel it is difficult to demonstrate the value and benefits. Furthermore, he suggested what the business community needs is another Enron to occur that would force company’s hands into preventing a crisis from happening. For over twenty years, my friend has successfully provided small and medium size businesses with resources and tools that identify their problems and opportunities allowing them to grow their revenue. He is a smart guy and I respect his opinion.
While I disagree with his feeling about the business community needing to experience another Enron from taking place again in order to open up their checkbooks, it is imperative to provide the correct ethical training sessions that demonstrate substance and value for the participating employees. The burden of proof certainly falls on someone like me to convince organizations to invest money in their employees.
Let me reiterate what I have said and practiced on many occasions during my career. Namely, there is no greater asset than productive employees. These are colleagues who are happy, team oriented, and consistently contribute to the collective goals of the organization. In most cases, they practice ethical values and strive to do the right thing. Don’t we all want more of these people in our companies? What are the costs of having poor employees who don’t care and minimally contribute? What is the cost of taking a shortcut and what are the ramifications to a company for not preventing unethical behavior?
We have troubling trends in our country right now that deserve and command our immediate attention. For example, over seventy percent of students in high school and college admit to cheating. Fifty five percent do not see a problem with this and view it as a way to get ahead. In addition, approximately eighty percent of all resumes are fraudulent and contain misrepresentations of the facts. Lastly, in multiple surveys fifty-four percent of all employees do not feel that their bosses are ethical and honest. The entitlements, justifications, and rationalizations of shortcuts are leading those individuals and their organizations down slippery slopes.
At the very least, every organization needs to practice good ethics and strive to create better environments where employees can thrive and grow. This is simply smart business. We can all question ourselves asking just how honest and ethical we think we are. The business of personal and business ethics is introspective thinking– it calls for ongoing reflection, examination, and the monitoring of who we are, what we are doing, and why we are doing it. This is an excellent way to start and beneficial to all employees. Examining values, principles, and values is a way to build the proper foundation that eliminates shortcuts and poor behavior.
In the long run, this saves companies thousands of dollars by having more productive and happy employees. Customers, stakeholders, shareholders, suppliers, and communities benefit as well dealing with ethical and honest companies. The alternatives are not pleasant and can lead to illegal behavior costing untold monies. As always, I ask you to strive to do the right thing!!