FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM APRIL 2011
Social Networking has been a wonderful way to keep up with the current events of others. Once in a while, someone will post something to their status and hit a nerve – getting dozens upon dozens of comments. On two separate occasions, I've seen posts from DJs expressing their frustration and anger when other companies act unethically toward them.
Without mentioning names, a friend of mine who is part owner of a reputable DJ company in my area informed me that DJs from another company sat in on one of their Sweet 16 Showcases. This is a perfectly normal and acceptable action in our particular market. The humorous part of this story occurred when some of the DJs from my friend's company went to observe the Sweet 16 Showcase of the company that had observed them earlier. When they got to the door, they were not permitted to enter. In fact, I'm told that the person at the door had pictures of the DJs that were not to be admitted. It's a pretty wild story, no? What could it be that they were so secretive about?
There was also another recent incident where a DJ company used images and material from another DJ company's website without permission. You'll likely read about this particular incident in next month's issue of Disc Jockey News, but, in short, after a bitter post by the owner of the victimized DJ company followed by over fifty comments from friends in his favor, the company in question removed the material from their website.
The incidents above reminded me of a blog I wrote some time ago about business ethics, which I'd like to share now. While doing research for this month's article, I attempted a Google search for an old article, which I hand-copied from a newspaper several years ago for my own personal reference. I wanted to quote it for last week's posting, but I couldn't find the original author. Instead, what I found was the same article in almost a half dozen blogs and websites as if they had written it themselves. For this reason and for the reasons I mentioned earlier, I decided to write about ethics and what it means to be ethical in business.
You've heard the phrase “Leave your ego at the door”? Well, leave the ego if you choose, but keep your ethics with you always when it comes to running your business. You might think that's corny, but that's just the way I feel about how a business should be managed.
Before we go any further, let's get a clear definition of ethics. Ethics, according to Dictionary.com, is a “system of moral principles or values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness or wrongness of certain actions.”
Someone who acts unethically is doing so by using unfair methods to gain an unfair advantage.
Business ethics are categorized into three levels of standards:
1. The Law
2. Organizational Policies
3. Individual Moral Principles
In the world of ethics, the law is considered the minimal standard. Why is it minimal? Because it only determines which actions are permissible and which are not. Actions that are legal may not always be ethical. Here's a clear example – remember the Hebrew National commercial with Uncle Sam eating the hot dog? The message in that commercial was that the FDA allows for a certain amount of chemicals, preservatives, and other unhealthy items, too sickening to mention. So it's actually legal to have a certain amount of disgusting things in food? The answer is “Yes.” It sounds gross, but it's the minimum standard required.
Let's look at the same example and relate it to the next level of ethics, organizational policies. Although it might be legal to have a certain amount of disgusting items in our food, Hebrew National said, “No Way!” Having these items goes against their organizational policies, so they set higher standards than those of the Federal Government. Organizational policies can be just about anything within a company's culture that makes sure their employees act in a proper manner toward customers or one another.
The third level of ethical standards is individual moral principles. These are principles that may not be covered in the first two levels. Religious or moral beliefs often make up this level. Opening the door for someone may not be in an organizational policy, but to some, it may be part of their moral make-up. Therefore, a person might choose to hold the door for someone when others may not.
Now that we know a little bit about business ethics, you might be asking, “What do we do with this information, and how is it going to help my business?”
Einstein once said, “Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.” In other words, Einstein felt that men and women who tried to become successful would often do so by performing whatever actions necessary, whether they were ethical or not. We often hear stories about companies or their leaders “playing dirty” in order to gain an advantage over their competition. If you were in this situation, you might say to yourself, “Our competitors are doing it, so why shouldn't we?”
Maintaining your values is much more important than sinking down to your competitor's level. Building moral values at the leadership level of your organization will put you in a better position with your customers should your competitors' dirty tactics eventually backfire and hurt them in the long run. In the meantime, here, “you” are a company that has held strong ethical values, openly communicating to customers that doing what's right is what you're about. This will make a great impression on customers if something goes openly wrong for your ‘dirty playing' competitor. Besides, one of the most important keys to running a successful business is about differentiation being unique. I think that their dirty tactics actually make the task of identifying your unique characteristics even easier!
FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM APRIL 2011