Business Ethics for Business Owners: Preparing to Write Business Ethics

It is week three of the Business Ethics for Business Owners Series and Adrienne Fitzer continues our journey towards the development of a set of guidelines and standards that will help you as an owner, and your employees, make decisions that do not compromise your personal, professional, and/or company values but still get the job done well. In today’s short post, Adrienne assigns a few more activities for you and your team to prepare you to write your business ethics. 

New to the series? Start with the first entry in the series- Business Ethics for Business Owners- Part 1: What are they?

There are lots of places to look for inspiration when preparing to write business ethics for your company.  You can search for ethics codes for major organizations like the American Psychological Association or watch videos on business ethics on You Tube (there are many) but as I pointed out in the first entry of this series, if you are running a business, you don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to search endlessly until you hit the jackpot. Hopefully, I will save you the need to dive unnecessarily into the internet abyss by steering you in the direction of one of the Effective Practice Guidelines published by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) titled “Shaping an Ethical Workplace Culture” 

I love this document. Possibly because it starts with a definition of ethics that sums up what I have been writing about the last few weeks quite nicely and then leads into an assertion that resonates with me.

Ethics—the values an organization demonstrates in its goals, policies and practices—are the heart of any workplace culture. And the quality of experience in an organization depends on the quality of its culture. Whether we are employees, customers or clients, a positive culture enlivens and enriches our experience of a firm—and a negative culture diminishes it

In other words, when you own a company that has a set of stated values and the goals, policies, and practices align with those values, your employees can expect that when barriers or challenges arise, you and others will attempt to address those issues with more than just the bottom line motivating their actions. 

You are getting really close to defining your business ethics after doing the two exercises I assigned in the last two entries in this series.  You know what your values are and you know by now how your employees feels your company’s day-to-day operations and interactions measure up against your values. Now it is time to decide what needs to change. 

You have a few assignments this week. Yes- there is more to do and I can’t do it for you!

Preparing to Write Business Ethics: Your Assignments

Assignment 1: Read the Effective Practice Guidelines published by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) titled “Shaping an Ethical Workplace Culture” 

Assignment 2: The second is to do a bit of research. Check out the Ethics codes of organizations like National Association of Social Workers and Behavior Analyst Certification Board. They have Ethics Codes recently published within the last three years and that have extensive guidelines that can be adapted to businesses that are not run by, or employ, social workers or behavior analysts. Why reinvent the wheel when there are folks out there that have provided you with a place to start. You can also ask your payroll company, lawyer, or even your accountant for state or federal guidelines, anti-discrimination policies, and more. 

Assignment 3: Start matching up guidelines, standards, or codes that already exist that would help support or address the list of day-to-day operations and interactions that you identified as being not quite aligned with your values. You should ideally do this with the team of employees that helped you write that list!

Bonus assignment: Start getting organized! Create a binder with tabs and begin sorting your work by general guidelines, social media/marketing/communication, customer service and relations, etc.

You are not done yet, but you are getting closer! I hope you are enjoying this!

Continue reading

Part 4: Finding Inspiration in the Social Workers’ Ethics Code


  1. Kristina Blackledge says:

    I, for one, am totally enjoying this series. Thank you for your efforts!

    1. abacnj_admin says:

      Thank you Kristina!! I hope you find it helpful!

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