Eight ethical practices every business should adopt

Eight Ethical Practices Every Business Should Adopt

Businesses are not only measured by their turnover or the reach of their marketing; Many consumers also consider their honest approach to environmental or social issues before engaging with a company. Regardless of their size and industry, businesses must act in accordance with the ethics of our interconnected world, where they are accountable for each of their actions, decisions and policies.

Running a business comes with many responsibilities, and every business owner must ensure that their operations are suitable for a wide range of people, including employees, shareholders and customers. To achieve this, you need to be proficient in business management to help you run the business effectively.

Bonaventure University offers an accredited online MBA program that trains individuals to become leaders in their industry. This program is designed to develop your skills, refine your understanding of business operations and prepare you to become a competent but also ethical leader. With ethics becoming more and more important in the business world, we will now discuss some ethical concerns that businesses will need to consider in 2023.

What are ethics in business?

Ethics in business refers to the actions businesses take and the moral principles they apply when considering those actions. This could be something as simple as ensuring anonymity for employees who complain. It can also be a vital issue, such as prioritizing the mental and physical health and safety of employees.

Ethical companies have defined social and environmental principles that ensure equal opportunities and discourage discrimination against employees. This type of business can improve its brand reputation and attract engaged employees.

On the other hand, ethical issues arise in business when a company's activities do not align with the ethical standards of society. For example, a company that discriminates against certain religions or backgrounds is unethical in today's diverse community. This company could lose the opportunity to hire talented people due to its discrimination. It could also cost him his reputation in the business world.

Now that it is clear that companies must integrate ethical considerations into their activities, what ethical practices should they adopt?

Eight ethical practices every business should adopt

Fair employment practices

Companies must ensure that their hiring and promotion practices are fair and non-discriminatory. You must discourage bias based on factors such as race, gender, religion and age, and provide equal opportunity to all employees. Prioritizing fair employment practices means ensuring that everyone in your organization has access to the same opportunities, regardless of their culture or background. But how to achieve this?

Business leaders must take a merit-based approach when recruiting their employees. This means they must employ people based on their talents and the value they bring to the company. To do this, you must carefully craft your job descriptions and ensure that your recruitment process is transparent. You can encourage transparent procedures by implementing blind hiring processes or standardizing interview questions to ensure all candidates are treated the same. You can also implement fair salary structures in which management pays each person based on their value or position in the company.

The value of fair employment practices is that they help you base hiring decisions on each individual's skills, qualifications and performance, not their characteristics or affiliations. Additionally, hiring people based on their skills helps create a diverse and inclusive workforce, which can improve problem-solving capabilities within your organization.

This practice can also result in a lower staff turnover rate. How does this happen? Companies that implement fair employment practices make their employees feel valued, respected and treated fairly, which promotes their commitment to the organization.

To implement this practice successfully, you can vehemently discourage discrimination in your business and educate your employees about the importance of fair employment practices. You can also set up confidential channels for employees to report cases of discrimination and take disciplinary action against people who violate these organizational rules.

Safety and health in the workplace

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that around 12 million working days are lost each year due to employee depression and anxiety attacks. This means that companies lose around $1 billion every year. Organizations must prioritize the physical safety and mental health of their employees. These include providing safe working conditions, stress management resources and ensuring the workplace is free from harassment and bullying.

Safety and health in the workplace can be classified into two categories: physical safety and mental safety. Physical safety ensures that companies take necessary measures to prevent accidents and health problems that may arise from work-related activities. To avoid these accidents, companies must have clean and organized workspaces and implement procedures to handle emergency situations.

Mental safety, for its part, involves establishing an environment favorable to the psychological well-being of employees. You can improve the mental health of your employees by tackling workplace stress, for example by avoiding excessive overtime and stopping workplace bullying. You can also provide resources that can help your employees maintain their mental health. This could include counseling services, flexible working arrangements or even stress management workshops to support your employees.

Ensuring that your employees enjoy excellent mental and physical health is a win-win situation. They feel more confident in their work and you have a composed and dedicated workforce, which ultimately results in organizational growth.

Environmental sustainability

Environmental sustainability refers to your responsibility to minimize your negative impact on the environment. These include reducing waste, conserving resources, promoting recycling and switching to renewable energy sources.

Most businesses contribute significantly to pollution, and environmental sustainability practices ensure they play their part in preserving the planet. It is essential that businesses be proactive in their efforts to reduce their impact on the environment. But how can they achieve this?

Businesses can start by reducing their carbon emissions. Nowadays, companies are increasingly moving towards green energy solutions, where they try to reduce greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. Reducing your carbon footprint and switching to eco-friendly activities can help your business sell better as consumers now prefer environmentally sustainable products and services.

You must also implement waste reduction, reuse and recycling processes. This could include reducing your packaging, composting organic waste and recycling office waste. Rather than using generators to power your offices, you can install solar panels or buy green energy from the grid.

Your organization can also contribute to environmental sustainability by choosing suppliers who minimize their impact on the environment. By practicing environmental sustainability, your business aligns with society's and consumers' growing demand for eco-friendly practices, which can significantly improve your reputation.

honest advertising

In the late 2000s, Airborne Health Inc, a manufacturer of herbal supplements, faced a lawsuit for false advertising. The company claimed that its product could strengthen the body's immune system and help fight germs. Airborne Health Inc. did not support these claims with scientific evidence and deemed them misleading to consumers. In 2008, the company paid $23.3 million to settle a class action lawsuit over false advertising to consumers.

False or misleading advertising harms consumers and erodes brand trust. This is why businesses must ensure that their marketing practices only speak to their capabilities. This is where honest advertising comes in.

Honest advertising ensures that all marketing and advertising messages accurately represent your products or services. Consumers often make purchasing decisions based on advertisements and have the right to truthful and accurate information to make informed purchasing decisions.

To be completely honest in advertising, make sure your marketing strategies and communications mention your capabilities. For example, an advertisement must include real prices, warranty promises and product descriptions. In other words, what your customers order is what they should get.

Privacy and data security

Protecting customer data has become a crucial ethical issue, especially with the increasing digitalization of businesses. Businesses must implement strong data security measures and ensure they respect the privacy rights of their customers.

In today’s digitalized world, businesses often collect, process and store large amounts of data. This data can range from a customer’s email address and name to their online behavior and footprint. While this data can be useful for companies to understand the behavior of their customers and adapt their products and services based on this behavior, it can also be easily stolen. This is why every company must protect its data against security breaches.

To ensure data privacy and security in your business, you must:

  • Collect only the necessary data and only keep it for as long as necessary.
  • Implement strong security measures, such as firewalls and regular security audits.
  • Make sure your customers know what data you collect, how you use it, who you share it with, and how long you keep it.
  • Give your customers options on how their data is used. For example, the “reject all” and “accept all” button for cookies is a great way to give your customers choices.
  • Develop a data breach response plan.

Security breaches can seriously harm your customers, including identity theft, financial loss and violation of their privacy. They can also affect your business, as companies attacked often face legal sanctions and significant reputational damage. If technology is not your specialty, you can hire a cybersecurity specialist to keep your customers' data safe.

Responsible sourcing and guarantee of product safety and quality

These two ethical considerations are interrelated practices that businesses must prioritize. Responsible sourcing involves making conscious choices about suppliers, ensuring you only work with suppliers who follow ethical practices and respect human rights. How to achieve this?

You must actively understand the supply chain, from obtaining raw materials to distributing products or services. This is how you can closely examine suppliers for potential worker exploitation, use of child labor, and even environmentally harmful practices.

Just like responsible sourcing, ensuring product safety and quality involves meeting strict standards throughout production. This means that your company should only use the safest product acquisition, manufacturing and redistribution processes. It also involves carrying out regular quality checks in order to maintain the required standards. This helps you produce goods or services that are safe to use and meet consumer expectations.

Additionally, safe, high-quality, and ethically sourced products reflect positively on a company’s brand. Customers may buy more from you if they are aware of the complex safety standards of your brand's products. Ultimately, this builds your reputation and credibility with consumers.

Community engagement

Businesses must make a positive contribution to the communities in which they operate. This contribution can take the form of supporting local initiatives, donating to charity, volunteering at community gatherings and promoting social causes.

In essence, community engagement encourages businesses to move beyond their traditional profit-seeking role to actively engage and contribute to the development of the community around them.

To engage with a community, a company must understand it. This means understanding the needs, challenges and goals of the community. A company can conduct research to discover community needs and can also host community forums to listen to people talk about their challenges and goals. Businesses can also discuss their intentions with community leaders and local organizations.

A company’s community engagement initiatives should align with its strategies and values. For example, if Parrot & Co, a children's book publisher that values ​​literacy and creativity, wants to engage with its community, it could launch a “reading hour.” during which employees would volunteer to read books to children. This would promote literacy and creativity (since it involves sharing stories that stimulate children's imagination) and directly involve the company in the community.

Thanks to this method, Parrot & Co can contribute to the life of its community while promoting its products in a meaningful and effective way. Community engagement allows businesses to serve the public while preserving their values.

Respect for intellectual property

Intellectual property can refer to an invention, a design, images used in commerce, or literary and artistic works. Legal rights, such as patents, copyrights, trademarks, and design rights, often protect these types of properties.

Respecting intellectual property means recognizing and honoring these legal rights. This means that businesses must not plagiarize the work of others, counterfeit or “fake” products of others, or illegally acquire business information.

It is essential to recognize the efforts, creativity and investments of individuals and companies in their intellectual creations and not exploit their assets. Beyond the ethical imperative, companies that violate intellectual property rights face legal consequences, such as legal action, high fines and damage to their company's reputation.


Ethical considerations are crucial elements of a company’s operations that shape its identity, influence its success and determine its legacy. Businesses that adopt ethical practices can improve their reputation and build customer loyalty. Organizations must therefore ensure that ethics is a top priority in order to improve their overall performance.