A Crash Course in Business Ethics

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

There’s a lot of buzz around business ethics. As our culture becomes more ethically aware, consumers have become more aware of the morals and values behind every brand. This has put a spotlight on businesses to work harder at not only creating quality products, but a quality business.

Business ethics by definition is a form of applied ethics that examines ethical principles or problems that arise in a business. From insider trading to fraud, it is important to have a handle on the type of action an individual should take through company policy. That can be difficult if a company does not have code of ethics set up and could lead to unethical decision making, lawsuits, a decline in sales, and a failed business.

Developing a code of ethics is important to begin the process of becoming an ethical business. This should include the values and principles that the company is based on, supported by management, and a code of conduct to detail the responsibilities of an individual in the company. Having a specific set of values and rules of the company are essential to the business’ moral code and will give employees a point of reference.

It is important to set up these ethical guidelines so that employees can determine the best course of action. There should be training set up so that employees are up to date on the ethical values of the business and how to navigate through their company with them. This is essential to having a high functioning and well received brand. Even having a refresher course on the types of ethics is important especially if there are updates to the policy.

By defining your morals, you are ensuring that employees understand how they should conduct business. Developing a code of ethics is an important step into becoming a successful business that people can rely on for not only good products, but good values.

The importance of ethics training programs

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

Consumers today are more conscious of ethical business practices than ever before. In today’s business world, there is easy access to information about companies and how they conduct business. Consumers have become acutely aware of this information and have made it an important part of where they decide to invest their money.

Due to the ease of access to information provided by modern communication, people have become very aware of ethical businesses and the impact that they have. There are even businesses that were created to showcase and give awards that highlight companies who are ethical leaders in their industries. This includes lists like EthiSphere’s annual ethical company ratings that consumers use to determine the ethical standing of a company. Companies will promote these achievements in their corporate literature and their websites because it has become an essential part of being a successful company.

Avoiding unethical business practices will not only help to create a good reputation, but keeps the company safe from litigation. Money scandals and poor business practices can cause a major loss in profit. These can lead to a loss in motivation in employees and ultimately bankruptcy. Maintaining quality and productivity by not cutting corners can only create a good reputation and preserve a good code of ethics for the company.

This is why having training in ethics is necessary for a successful business. They not only help promote awareness to the ethical practices in the company, but ethics training programs boosts morale so that employees work more effectively and harmoniously with their co-workers. Being ethically aware helps to maintain a positive corporate culture and upholds a strong public image.

Ethics trainings are essential to preserving a positive business culture and responsive to any ethical dilemmas that could arise. Communicating ethical business behavior and implementing that behavior into the workplace is an important business strategy that can only improve a business. By having these programs in place and updating them when necessary, companies will flourish and grow into a thriving and respected business for years to come.

Want to learn more about ethics and how to apply them to your business? Go to our website for information on Ethics Training that UNG provides and how they can improve your company.

5 ethical business practices your organization can implement today

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.

Leadercast event to honor Eagle Ranch founder

Eagle Ranch founder Eddie Staub
Eagle Ranch founder Eddie Staub

Eddie Staub, founder and executive director of Eagle Ranch in Flowery Branch, Georgia, will be honored at Leadercast North Georgia, the local simulcast of an international leadership event set for Friday, May 8 on the University of North Georgia’s (UNG) Gainesville Campus.

“We are honored to serve as a host location for Leadercast and to honor Eddie Staub and Eagle Ranch during the event,” said Rose Procter, director of the university’s BB&T Center for Ethical Business Leadership. “The story of Eddie’s arrival in Hall County to developing an internationally recognized family reunification program is an inspiration and shows real bravery in the face of both adversity and a community need.”

Staub made headlines in the early 1980s as a young man attempting to fund and establish a home for struggling boys. Eagle Ranch has since become Georgia’s foremost family reunification program and one of the nation’s most progressive therapeutic Christian programs for children in crisis. From the opening of its first home in 1985, Eagle Ranch now serves up to 66 boys and girls on its 270-acre wooded campus featuring 10 homes and a SACS-accredited school. The ranch is celebrating 30 years of helping children and rebuilding families.

Sponsored by the BB&T Center for Ethical Business Leadership in UNG’s Mike Cottrell College of Business, Leadercast is broadcast live from Atlanta to hundreds of sites around the world, including Gainesville; the local event will be 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Ed Cabell Theatre. The speaker lineup for this year’s broadcast event includes:

  • Andy Stanley – leadership author and communicator
  • Peyton Manning – Super Bowl-winning quarterback and five-time NFL most valuable player
  • Malala Yousafzai – Nobel laureate and founder of The Malala Fund
  • Ed Catmull – president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios
  • Seth Godin – best-selling author
  • Rudy Giuliani – former mayor of New York City
  • Aja Brown – mayor of Compton, California
  • Bill McDermott – chief executive officer of SAP AG
  • Rorke Denver – former Navy SEAL commander and author
  • Bill and Giuliana Rancic – entrepreneurs and award-winning TV personalities and co-hosts of Leadercast

 This past year, more than 130,000 leaders from 35 countries watched Leadercast. Now in its 16th year, this full day, experiential conference is on track to reach its largest audience to date.

Leadercast aims to positively change the way the world thinks about leadership. This year’s theme, “The Brave Ones,” challenges leaders to lead with a sense of bravery and boldness.

For more information about Leadercast, visit www.leadercast.com. For local ticketing information, call (706) 867-2966 or visit http://bbtcebl.ung.edu.

Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl competes at Nationals

by Marissa Langston, junior marketing student and marketing intern, Mike Cottrell College of Business

The University of North Georgia’s Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team competed at a national competition the weekend of February 20-22 at the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) Annual Conference in Costa Mesa, California. Thirty-two colleges and universities participated in the competition and the University of North Georgia was the only school to represent the state of Georgia.

“It was an honor for our team to be invited to the national competition, said Dr. Donna Mayo, dean of the Mike Cottrell College of Business. “We are so proud of the opportunity to represent the state of Georgia in competition. The experience that these students gain through organizations such as these makes a great impact on their professional development and preparation for life after graduation.”

(left to right) Team members Efron Chavez, Keely Jabloner, and Robert Johnson prepare their response during competition.
(left to right) Team members Efren Chavez, Keely Jabloner, and Robert Johnson prepare their response during competition.

As this was the team’s first time competing at nationals, their performance exceeded satisfaction. They competed three rounds against Fort Lewis College (Colorado), Indiana University, and University of Tampa, and were only a maximum of six points behind competitors in each round. Indiana University moved on to compete in Semi-finals, only beating the UNG team by 4 points. Taylor University and Whitworth University competed against one another in the final round, and Taylor University was the winner of the national ethics bowl. Topics that the UNG Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team faced included ethical issues regarding WW2 bombing, unpaid internships, ultraintelligent machines, rape, lead in drinking water, and natural gas fracking.

The 2015 UNG National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team includes students from both Gainesville and Dahlonega campuses: Efren Chavez, Fernando Gonzalez, Keely Jabloner, Mallika Dinesh, Maria Palacios, Michaela Climer, and Robert Johnson.

The 2015 UNG Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl coaches include UNG associate dean of students Katie Simmons and BB&T Center for Ethical Business Leadership director Rose Procter. “The students found great value to critically think through these ethical dilemmas alongside their peers and by adding value around different ethical perspectives,” said Procter. “The students stated they are not challenged in this way in any other avenue at UNG nor have they had the ability to talk openly around these delicate issues and truly learn about different opinions and options for solutions.”

The APPE is currently working on a multi-national campaign for North America, of which the UNG IEB team has been invited to be a part.