Maintaining Strict Adherence to Ethics and Code of Conduct Policies Should be at the Forefront of Business Priority
Ethics can be a dirty word for executives and management employees. Although all businesses like to think that they remain in compliance with a code of conduct, the term itself often connotes trouble or a sign of rough water ahead. In reality, many businesses maintain an ideal of staying at the forefront of business ethics and compliance, yet are unsure how to chart and maintain the proper course. Is it a simple code of conduct? Is it simply following the law? All of these are questions you have probably asked yourself if you are a business owner, executive, or upper-level management employee.
A recent Berkshire Hathaway memorandum from Warren Buffett explored these exact questions. Its contents bring up several salient points that can be applied to any business, large or small, that is seeking to maintain or improve its ethical reputation within the business community at large.
Buffett wrote his December 19, 2014 memorandum to his team of managers. He starts off by clearly stating that Berkshire Hathaway’s priority number 1 “trumping everything else – including profits” is “zealously guarding Berkshire’s reputation.” This is sound advice from one of the most revered businessmen in America. After all, once a business loses its reputation what does it have left? Indeed, protecting company reputations through business ethics courses is our job at Syntrio. Like Buffet, we believe that a business can flourish when it makes ethical principles of operation a high priority.
Buffett goes on to state two more key points that are fundamental aspects of ethical compliance. First, he asks that his managers refrain from doing anything that even calls into question the legality of an act. Buffett’s memo states that if a business action requires the manager to question whether it is ethical it should not be done, despite the impact on profits. While sometimes-difficult decisions need to be made, in general the “eye test” is a good one to rely on when making business decisions. All too frequently business owners and executives are seduced by the allure of high profits and the bottom line, and decisions they make lead to both legal and reputation trouble immediately.
Finally, Buffett writes about the need for trust in succession. A business owner or executive in charge must be aware of the candidates to carry on the business legacy and reputation. By properly training managers in the company code of conduct you can foster a legacy and reputation for high standards of ethics that will filter down from top to bottom. Again, this is where Syntrio can help. With years of experience training managers on adhering to ethical standards of conduct we are positioned to effectively implement a strategy that not only educates your managers on ethical behavior, we can also implement any shifts or changes in philosophy that you see fit by tailoring the courses to your needs.
Syntrio understands the need to balance costs with employee morale and ethical behavior. Therefore, we can help train your managers on the nuances of corporate ethics that will not only keep you compliant with the law, but will foster a positive reputation within the community as recommended by Warren Buffett in his memo.