Ethics has a human face. They’re about people and how individuals behave and react to certain situations. Ethics includes how persons interact with one another. Not only can an organization be hurt from an ethical lapse, but individuals can be negatively impacted as well. Laws, rules, codes, policies, and regulations will never adequately address ethical issues unless the focus is on people.
It doesn’t matter if your business or non-profit is small or large. It doesn’t matter if it is in a town or large city. The same basic ethical standards found in a small business, large corporation, or medium size non-profit no matter where it is located should be consistent. The definition of truth, fairness, and transparency shouldn’t change from one organization to another or be dependent on location.
Ethics is more than compliance with the law. It’s about the individual and senior management choosing to do the right thing when the law doesn’t require it or when no one is looking.
Ethics requires vigilance. Reviewing, monitoring, and pursuing good practices do not end because policies are adopted. The ethics journey is ongoing.
A strong ethical culture can increase revenue, solidify customer loyalty, boost non-profit fundraising, and keep talented employees from wanting to leave.
Human Resource personnel and Legal Counsel, whether on staff or serving on the board, should not be expected to handle ethics along with their other duties. Ethics should be kept distinct and separate from other important matters. A focused, detached perspective will best serve an organization.