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Business Leaders Still Not Trusted

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The age old question of "Does ethics pay?" returns again with a 2015 Gallup poll of how people rate the honesty of various professions. As usual, "nurses again topped the list, followed by pharmacists, physicians, and high school teachers. Journalists, bankers, and building contractors occupied the middle, and, as has been the case for many years, business executives were close to the bottom."

What is it about business executives that lands them in this position every year? Is it how the focus of business has evolved to be "beat the competition" instead of "serve the customer"? Is it that incentives are aligned to maximizing profits above long term health and effectiveness of the company? maybe it is just a reflection of a culture of selfishness played out in a corporate environment. For whatever reason, the implications for businesses, and those who advise them, are serious.

Regarded of whether "ethics pays" is your reason for being trustworthy in your company's ethical culture and practices, ethics does pay. More articles than needed have been written about how people prefer to do business with those who are honest. Commerce flows faster when we overcome district of others and get on with the tasks at hand. It is more pleasant to work in a company when we don't have to run to the lawyers to make sure others are not taking advantage of us.

Placing ethics above money may result in your prevailing over your business adversary or not, but at least you will "win" playing by the rules of a civil society. Deceiving another or using unfair advantage (and I don't mean just being better at some function or process) or insider information means you can put more points on the scoreboard but you really haven't outperformed anyone. And people know it, and will be less inclined to play with you next time.

This is where management consultants emerge as a powerful force to improve the culture and practices of ethics in a business. Setting the standard for ethical behavior goes beyond just "being good." It also does not mean you must be an "ethics consultant." It does mean that you assert that ethics are foundational to you and that you are bound by the IMC USA Code of Ethics (paragraph 11) to observe and report any perceived violations of law or business. You are not responsible for accusation or adjudication but you are in a unique position to notify the appropriate authority. This benefits your client's business as well as enhances your value as a trusted advisor.

See Business Leaders Get an 'F' in Ethics, Yet Again

Tags:  ethics  leadership  trust 

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