In the age of social media, clear ethical positions can make or break a company’s reputation, + should be considered part of brand management.
In the past, many companies posted general visions, which also included some basic ethical rules, but didn’t always worry too hard about seeing them implemented at all levels. Today, when a single tweet can cause disarray on the stock market, it is essential to pay much stronger attention to defining the main values on which the company’s operations are based – and then ensuring that these are understood and adopted throughout the firm.
The main steps to achieving this goal are:
- Define the core values of the company
- Identify for each value the set of behaviours that most reflect these values
- Identify which behaviours are unacceptable, because contrary or not in alignment with the core values
- Decide on rewards for aligned behaviour and sanctions for unacceptable behaviour
- Train the management team, with a particular focus on them leading by example and also on them supporting positive behaviours
- Communicate clearly to all staff the expectations for their individual, personal, daily work
- Take stock periodically of the attitudes toward the behavioural standard (because this will give the clearest indication whether the values are really being “lived” at all levels of the organization)
With these simple steps even large multinational firms can avoid much grief.