Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ethics in action

  • How many companies pay an invoice, by electronic funds transfer, the day it's been approved for payment?
  • How many companies encourage their employees to take 'thinking time?'
  • How many companies have an informal rule that senior managers leave the building within minutes of the end of the official working day, and encourage staff to do the same, to counter the temptation to work around the clock?
The client I'm working with this week does all these things, and very many more, because of a deeply held ethical commitment that emphasises the importance of people in the business (customers and suppliers as well as employees) instead of the pursuit of wealth at any cost. 

How many companies have a sensitive alcohol policy? My client does not reimburse alcohol when entertaining business contacts; but, so as not to embarrass the guest by revealing that, if they take someone to dinner and the guest wants a glass of beer or wine with the meal, the host will settle the bill with the restaurant and reimburse the company for the alcohol portion privately: it's a policy that recognizes the sensitivities around the issue and refuses to put people in an uncomfortable position...

Guess what? With attitudes like these, this company has more than enough money to pay all the bills, hire new staff and grow the business; and they've got enthusiastic workers with a great camaraderie and genuine 'can do' spirit; along with mostly delighted customers (retention rate >95%); and suppliers shocked and impressed that they get paid promptly without having to chase.

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