At the Institute of Business Ethics, we believe that doing business ethically makes for better business.
Doing business ethically means applying ethical values, such as honesty, fairness, transparency, to the way business is done, whatever the sector, whatever the situation.
And better business will come out of that.
A better business is one which enhances the lives of others: for instance by being a great place to work or by being a reliable partner.
The Recruitment sector gets a bad press. Recruiters are often compared to second-hand car salesmen or estate agents – sales-driven, with little care of consideration for customers or candidates, only their next sale.
In these times of austerity, trust is a precious commodity. Having a reputation for honesty and ethics can differentiate your business, and make you more successful in the long-term – by attracting top talent and increasing customer loyalty. A business with a reputation for operating ethically is one which builds resilience and trust.
The Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) believes that all organisations, should ‘do the right thing’ because it is the right thing to do. In addition, there is research demonstrating the benefits enjoyed by businesses that take their ethical values seriously :
- Good relations with customers lead to an enhanced reputation. Demonstrating sound ethical practices can often generate ‘word of mouth’ goodwill which attracts more customers and high quality candidates.
- An open culture improves morale, with possible benefits of increased productivity and loyalty. A business based on sound ethical values is likely to attract the best employees.
- IBE research suggests that where there is a culture of doing business ethically there is a consequent improvement in overall reputation and subsequent improvement in financial performance.
Those recruiters that have been on the receiving end of unethical business practices or have suffered a reputation hit will understand the importance of having good, trusting relationships with customers, candidates, employees, suppliers and the community.
So what is business ethics?
The IBE defines business ethics as the application of ethical values, such as fairness, honesty, openness, integrity, to all business behaviour. In short it is about how you do business. Do you treat candidates with dignity and respect? Do you support staff to ‘do the right thing’? Do you treat customers fairly? Do you pay suppliers on-time?
Let’s look at some dilemmas which you or a member of your staff could face:
- “My sales figures are low; I really need my bonus. I’m going to have to make this appointment, even though this candidate is wrong for this client.”
- “We can’t pay our rent if we don’t get this client. I’ll have to pay a kickback to make sure we do.”
- “My brother-in-law is looking for a job, and I know just the post he’d be suited for.”
- “Our competitor has a great contract; we need to find a way to poach it from them. Everybody does it.”
A business is made up of people, most of whom make decisions every day that require a choice about what is the right thing to do.
Customers and candidates are looking for recruiters who they can trust. Developing ethical acumen is not only an essential personal skill; it is also a vital business skill. Businesses want to work with consultants who offer the very best both professionally and ethically.
The IBE and the IOR have developed the Ethics Champion initiative to help Recruiters show that they take ethics seriously. Becoming an Ethics Champion means you will receive training in how to solve ethical dilemmas, giving you practical tools, and sensitising you to issues and ‘integrity risks’ may arise in business life. All recruiters and HR professionals of all levels are encouraged to access the Ethics Champion training.
Being an Ethics Champion demonstrates your understanding of business ethics and commitment to high professional standards; both for your own personal brand, and also to customers, colleagues and candidates.