by Sam Young, marketing intern & junior marketing major, Mike Cottrell College of Business

Ethical practices are essential to any successful business. The Ethisphere Institute is an organization that researches ethical businesses and compiles a list of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies”. Based on their efforts, we have compiled a list of 5 ethical business practices that any organization can integrate into their ethical business practices.

1. Kellogg’s Code of Ethics

Having an updated copy of your code of ethics for the public to access is essential. Kellogg Company keeps a copy of their code of ethics on their website in a multitude of languages that can be accessed at any time. By doing so, this showcases their values and their commitment to strive for ethical excellence. Here is a link to their Code of Ethics: http://www.kelloggcompany.com/en_US/about-ethics.html.

However, also crucial is to live that code and continuously integrate not only the code, but consistently demonstrate those values throughout the organization. Leaderships “buy in” and “consistency” to those values through their actions is an absolute.

2. Levi Strauss and Social Responsibility

Social Responsibility initiatives can be a great addition to your ethical business practices. Levi has developed a positive culture of ethical social responsibility by creating a new aspect of their company called the Levi Strauss & Co. Collaboratory. This is a three day fellowship program that finds individuals that are positively impacting the apparel industry to collaborate on social or environmental solutions for their organizations. Having some sort of community service opportunity, partnering with a non-profit, or developing a collaborative program like Levi’s will help your company to have a positive perspective from the community and help to grow your business.

3. Microsoft Standards of Business Conduct Training

Microsoft employees must complete an annual training on their Standards of Business Conduct. This keeps employees up to date on any changes in their ethical behavior and helps them continue to be ethical leaders in each of their positions. By doing training like this once a year, companies can ensure that their employees have a comprehensive understanding of their ethical standards. Making these trainings more around the “values” and less about just compliance, as well as more around the “individuals” role and responsibilities will create better applicability for your employees.

4. Ford’s Corporate Compliance Office

Ford has an office that promotes the company’s culture of compliance and ethics. What sets apart this corporate compliance office from from others is its focus on ethical business practices. By putting emphasis on the organization’s ethical code, they can pursue moving forward in an ethical manner.  By establishing a compliance, culture or ethics office you can ensure that someone in your organization is both promoting and striving to maintain an ethical stance and corporate culture. It is a must that this is not just addressed by this department, but demonstrated routinely through leadership.

5. Aflac’s Fair Purchasing Policy

Aflac follows a fair purchasing policy that is objective towards their suppliers rather than displaying any favoritism. By establishing fairness in its purchasing policy, Aflac can maintain highly ethical partners and vendors that will not attempt to manipulate pricing for their personal benefit. Researching your suppliers will help your company to steer clear of any ethical dilemmas that could arise by partnering with a company that has shady business practices or that manipulates their buyers.

To jumpstart your ethical business practices, please visit our website for more information on our Business Ethics Leader professional education programs or other ethical consulting or training services.