The word 'ethics' has been derived from the Greek word 'ethos' which means conduct, customs, or character. Ethics according to the Greeks would mean a code of conduct, the manner of customs, and the characterization of a person's morals. It would also mean in a positive way the acceptance of responsibilities.
A lot of people talk about right and wrong, the acceptable and unacceptable and principles and protocol, all this pertains to ethics. Every business or every entrepreneur has to have some framework for their code of conduct for a business; this would essentially be the guidelines within which a business can conduct certain activities.
The framework has to be outlined before the business activity starts.
- Criminal behavior and legal framework: Every organization needs to have a code of ethics pertaining to criminal behavior and legal issues. The employees in a business need to be trained regarding business legalities and the consequences their actions would have upon them and the business.
- Human values and personal behavior: Every business needs to have an ethical policy for human values and behavior. Employees should be given training on how to interact with customers, suppliers, or competitors. They need to be aware of how they are expected to behave with people at different levels and that inappropriate behavior will have consequences.
An Individual's Behavior
It is very important to understand that each person has his or her own impression of ethics. What may be wrong for one person may be right for another and vice versa. People's views and ethics cannot be changed overnight. Each person has grown up with a particular cultural background and their own understanding of right and wrong.
From a businessman's point of view, it is important to gauge a person's understanding of ethics before hiring him/her. You need to understand if their sense of ethics is in compliance with you and your business. Social factors also play an important part and so does the education and upbringing.
It is important that before a person starts working for you, he/she is inducted into the business. This induction period is vital, as it is at this time, that the person can be introduced to your business ethics.
At the end of it all, remember that ethics have a lot to do with perception, which can be modified but can hardly be completely changed.