TRUST

How ethics affects business performance

For Africa to truly move forward, entrepreneurs and business leaders must see the need for ethical business practices

In Summary

•Trust is rare in global business and this is one reason we have systems on multiple levels to ensure our safety

•Ethics has become a huge differentiator and crucial to business success

Corruption is dangerous
ETHICS AT YOUNG AGE: Corruption is dangerous
Image: File

I don’t believe in business ethics. I believe in ethics. An ethical person will most likely have an ethical foundation for their life based on which they would approach every aspect of their life, including business – they may not be perfect, but at least, they would be known to have key ethical standards. An ethical person will do business ethically. Here, ethics means to do the right thing or doing business with integrity.

Now, trust is rare in global business and this is one reason we have systems on multiple levels to ensure our safety. On this note, ethics has become a huge differentiator and crucial to business success. The business that can build and sustain trust, wins.

For Africa to truly move forward, entrepreneurs and business leaders must see the need for ethical business practices. They need to understand how unethical practices affect business progress; the long-term cost of dishonesty isn’t worth it. The issue of ethics affects business performance in interesting ways – here are three. 

Reputation: Now, businesses have a social identity and digital identity. Previously, a company’s social identity was their only concern – that has changed. A company’s digital presence and footprint are as important as the social one – your online and offline reputation matters. If you are known for your unethical business practices, your reputation could easily be destroyed on social media because people can easily call you out. This is the wrong century to be known as unethical because it’s difficult to hide from public scrutiny.

Competitive Edge: Once you’re labeled as an unethical business, you begin to lose your competitive edge if your image isn’t salvaged. Your company’s ability to compete depends on many factors including trust. Ethical business practices increase the public’s trust in your goods and services. The level of trust is a ticket that allows your business to compete fairly in the market. If you lose the ‘trust-ticket’, you eventually lose your credibility to compete and this makes business difficult. Unethical business practices give your business a weak market position.

Customer Relations: You have a business because people (customers) buy your goods and services. Your customers believe in your ability to deliver on your promise. In their interaction with your business, they are sensitive to how they are treated and if they discover that you have been dishonest, trust is lost. When trust withers, the relationship is lost because they stop buying from you. Ethical business practices keep you on good terms with your customers.

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