Why be­ing eth­i­cal pays

IT’S NOT ABOUT BE­ING A NICE GUY It means hav­ing in­tegrity, ob­jec­tiv­ity, com­pe­tency and skil­ful­ness.

The Citizen (KZN) - - BUSINESS - Munya Du­vera

The past few decades have seen a boom in busi­ness to heights not seen be­fore. Cor­po­ra­tions and en­trepreneurs have thrived un­der in­ter­na­tional mar­kets and have seen record prof­its, greater wealth cre­ation and grow­ing economies.

But in the midst of all the suc­cess, busi­ness has also wit­nessed an un­prece­dented num­ber of cor­po­rate de­ba­cles.

Phrases such as cor­po­rate greed, cor­po­rate scan­dal and ac­count­ing fraud have be­come syn­ony­mous with busi­ness to the point where so­ci­ety has asked whether or not eth­i­cal prac­tices ex­ist in cor­po­ra­tions.

Nonethe­less, are we cor­rect in as­sum­ing that such de­ba­cles tran­spire only at cor­po­rate level? Most cer­tainly not. In fact, there are more du­bi­ous prac­tices at small- and medium-sized en­ter­prise (SME) level than there are at cor­po­rate level.

The only dif­fer­ence is that cor­po­rate scan­dals are well doc­u­mented and pub­li­cised, while small busi­ness scan­dals rarely, if ever, get a sec­ond ear.

That how­ever does not mean en­trepreneurs should con­duct them­selves un­eth­i­cally.

The is­sue lies in the mis­un­der­stood con­cept of eth­i­cal con­duct. Some mis­tak­enly as­sume that ethics re­late to a soft ap­proach of do­ing busi­ness; a gen­tle, un­pro­vok­ing, eas­ily-co­erced at­ti­tude in an at­tempt to get along with every­one.

That could not be any fur­ther from the truth. Eth­i­cal busi­ness con­duct sug­gests four crit­i­cal com­po­nents:

In­tegrity: a sense of hon­esty, truth­ful­ness, re­li­a­bil­ity and up­right­ness.

Ob­jec­tiv­ity: an abil­ity to con­struc­tively chal­lenge from a so­lu­tion’s per­spec­tive.

Com­pe­tency: an abil­ity to get things done.

Skil­ful­ness: Pru­dent and pro­fi­cient in one’s cho­sen field, with con­tin­ual train­ing to stay abreast of cur­rent pro­fes­sional prac­tices.

There­fore eth­i­cal busi­ness con­duct is not only about do­ing the morally right thing; it in­cludes an en­tre­pre­neur’s holis­tic ap­proach to pro­fes­sional con­duct.

Do­ing the morally right thing is im­por­tant, but mak­ing the right de­ci­sion doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to come from a place of moral­ity. It can orig­i­nate from one’s skill and un­der­stand­ing of your busi­ness and in­dus­try. For ex­am­ple, a com­pe­tent in­di­vid­ual un­der­stands that re­port­ing more rev­enue than was earned can only have a fu­ture neg­a­tive im­pact on the busi­ness. That de­ci­sion doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily re­quire an hon­est in­di­vid­ual but a com­pe­tent level-headed in­di­vid­ual with a busi­ness mind.

Eth­i­cal busi­ness prac­tices are also about mak­ing de­ci­sions while be­ing mind­ful of all stake­hold­ers. Ad­di­tion­ally, busi­ness ethics is about sus­tain­abil­ity.

Busi­ness lead­ers are faced with a myr­iad of tough de­ci­sions on a daily ba­sis and a gen­eral rule of thumb to eth­i­cal de­ci­sion-mak­ing is to de­ter­mine how a par­tic­u­lar de­ci­sion will im­pact stake­hold­ers and, more im­por­tantly, the fu­ture of the busi­ness.

Eth­i­cal con­duct is not about be­ing a nice guy but it’s a tool for build­ing cor­dial re­la­tions with all stake­hold­ers and sub­se­quently a sus­tain­able prof­itable busi­ness.

Munya Du­vera is CEO at Du­vera El­group

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