Why Your B2B Workplace Needs an Ethics Code

compass with needle pointing the word ethics. Conceptual 3d illustration of business integrity and moral

Workplace ethics, or moral values, are the foundation of the culture of businesses. These moral principles drive businesses and can form the basis of marketing campaigns. Your business might be concerned with environmental practices and choose to use only products made from recycled materials for packaging and labels, or your business might be focused on human rights and choose to source all products or services based on supporting the rights of workers along the whole supply chain. Some companies will promote their moral code as part of their marketing strategy.

Workplace ethics can be individual as well as company-wide. Within business, these codes can be based on regulations and laws, as well as industry standards. People working in the food industry will have different regulations as compared with those working in healthcare. People in managerial and leadership positions will usually have more responsibility and be held to a higher standard.

International Society

Ethics, overall, are a way that we can function as a society. These guidelines help us understand expectations and meet them. They are inherited as well as learned. Our families and society teach us ways to interact with each other in an acceptable manner.
However, the way we interact has changed dramatically in the past 20 years and as yet, a moral code that is respected by the majority has yet to be developed for our global online community. The online community is in its infancy. The perception of many that they are ‘safe’ behind a screen to abuse others or misrepresent themselves is unethical by the standards of our offline communities. It is an ongoing debate.
One area that requires fast attention is B2B ethics online. Merchants have vast networks. Companies are trading internationally, often without knowledge or concern, for the responsibilities of the regions, they are trading in.
Privacy is another major concern for B2B eCommerce merchants. While some sites will ask for a login and password for each transaction, others are quite open. Some merchants might operate in regions that do not require privacy policy and data protection. The legal requirements and frameworks change region by region and even state by state in the US. This makes understanding the laws and regulations and meeting expectations challenging for businesses.

Secular Ethics

Secular ethics, which is based on human faculties such as reason, logic, empathy and moral intuition rather than any supernatural influences, such as religion, are considered a sound basis from which companies can approach ethics development. Some of the values, which are believed to be inherent in all people and therefore a sound basis for developing a moral code, are:

  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Trustworthiness
  • Fairness
  • Responsibility
  • Caring
  • Accountability
  • Loyalty
  • Comradery

These utilitarian values mean different things to different people dependant on their society, however, overall people understand that these values form a basis for how they approach their work life.

B2B Codes

B2B merchants should develop moral codes that govern how they will interact with clients. Using secular ethics as a foundation for value creation is an approach that offers the greatest degree of flexibility. Respect and responsibility are shown in different ways in different cultures, however, their underlying value is the same globally. They are human utilitarian values. Both require people to be willing to apologise, to be humble, to trust and act in ways that engender trust.
While the online business world is fast and filled with constant communications, the moral code to support a connected international community has yet to be developed. Taking time to ground your B2B operation with an ethical code can be an anchor for your business.

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