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3 Critical Reasons to Establish a Culture of Ethics in Your Company

A culture of ethics can boost your public reputation, productivity and bottom line.

Posted by Ann Snook on January 15th, 2021

Nearly one in three employees feels pressure to behave unethically at work. They might feel the need to bend the rules to appease their manager, meet a target or advance their career.

Having a code of ethics or other policies in place isn’t enough. To run an ethical company, you need to enforce these policies, lead by example and incorporate ethics into your everyday operations.

Not convinced? These three reasons to establish a culture of ethics might change your mind.

 

A culture of ethics is the easiest way to prevent internal fraud.

Without guidance on what is and isn’t acceptable workplace behavior, employees might make the wrong choices. Download our free checklist to ensure your organization is honest, open and ethical.

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1. Your Public Reputation Will Improve

 

People can access more information more quickly than ever before. As a result, “a company’s history, public messages, and even current staff are all publicly available information, and all it takes is a Google search for a prospective employee to find it,” says business consultant Larry Alton.

“For that reason alone, company ethics are more important than they’ve been in past decades; one scandal or breach of ethics will stick for potentially years.”

Establishing a culture of ethics in your workplace can help you prevent scandals and bad press. Employees will be more likely to behave ethically and those who don’t will face consequences.

Showing your commitment to ethical business practices can also build customer and investor loyalty. One study found that 62 per cent of consumers said they choose a brand based on its ethical values. Similarly, “if a company is perceived to not operate ethically, investors are less inclined to buy stock or otherwise support its operations,” says financial literacy professional Melissa Horton.

When you conduct ethical business, you’ll build and protect your reputation as a worthy brand, attracting new customers and investors and retaining existing ones.

 

RELATED: Ethics at the Top: How the C-Suite Affects Company Culture

 

2. You’ll Protect Your Assets Better

 

Th less you enforce your ethics policies, the less likely employees are to follow them. It’s that simple.

A study by the Anti-Fraud Collaboration found that “a proactive approach to culture can deter various types of misconduct and promote behaviors that can enhance morale and productivity.” They also note that “a strong culture hedges against all three sides of the fraud triangle, a framework that illustrates the factors that can motivate people to commit fraud: pressure, opportunity, and rationalization.”

An ethical culture can deter fraud and theft for a number of reasons. For example:

  • When employees aren’t subjected to unfair or intense competition for promotions and commissions, they are less likely to take unethical paths to meet a goal
  • Showing respect and support builds employee loyalty, so they won’t want to steal from you
  • When employees receive the benefits and pay they deserve, they have less financial need and rationalization for fraud
  • Hiring ethical employees from the start reduces your risk of fraud and theft of all kinds (IP, data, inventory)

 

RELATED: Prevent Fraud with These 9 Tips from the Codes of Conduct of the World’s Most Ethical Companies

 

3. Employees Will Be Happier

 

One of the most important reasons to establish a culture of ethics in your workplace is employee happiness. When you emphasize ethics, employees have a better sense of belonging, and feel less stressed without aggressive competition and questionable requests from their managers.

Clear ethics policies make decision-making easier, allowing employees to focus on doing their best work. When they don’t have to choose between ethics and success, employees’ mental health will improve and so, in turn, will the “vibe” of your workplace.

A positive, ethical workplace culture also promotes productivity. In fact, one study from the University of Oxford found that happy employees are 13 per cent more productive. Without the win-at-all-costs competitive attitude, companies with cultures of ethics see better team relationships, too. Stronger teamwork can in turn lead to more free-flowing ideas, motivation and innovation.

 

Did you know one tool can help you encourage an ethics culture, boost compliance and investigate and prevent E&C incidents? Download our free eBook to learn how case management software can improve your organization’s investigations.

 

Running an ethical organization isn’t just a way to avoid fines or lawsuits. When you commit to a culture of ethics, you’ll improve every aspect of your business: finances, employee well-being, asset protection and ingenuity.


Ann Snook
Ann Snook

Marketing Writer

Ann is a marketing writer at i-Sight Software. She writes about issues related to investigations of fraud, employee misconduct, corporate security, Title IX, ethics & compliance and more.

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