Within the go-getter world of business, it may seem contradictory that an ethical outlook is essential for success. The hard truth is that when unethical attitudes are adopted in the name of profit, any progress will usually be undermined when the inevitable fallout finally comes knocking. That’s why it’s so important to be familiar not only with the legal hot water that poor business ethics can land you in, but also the brunt that will be born by your team, your company reputation, and ultimately your long term prospects. Read on to discover the need-to-knows on business ethics plus what to do if your organization’s morals have already gone astray.

Bad Business Ethics and Legal Repercussions

A range of laws established and enacted by federal and state governments operate as an ethical safety rail, protecting the economy and America’s citizens from the damage that can be done when business ethics go out the window. Of course, at times larger companies may decide that breaching these laws and paying the associated fines is profitable enough to leave their morals at the door. However, these kinds of decisions often result ultimately in criminal charges and litigation that may eventually even sink the ship. The question is, would you see the iceberg coming in time to course correct?

Poor Business Ethics Are a Poisoned Pill For Corporate Culture

There is nothing like spiraling ethics to destabilize the strength of a team and undermine employee performance, and yet the recent Global Ethics Survey revealed that pressure on U.S. employees to compromise their standards is the highest it has ever been. The sad fact of the matter is that without clear parameters within which to operate, employees can quickly step into loose cannon shoes, disregarding essential protocols and making costly errors in the name of proving their worth. Simultaneously, other employees who see colleagues or leaders bending and breaking the rules are likely to become demoralized. Team-wide trust can quickly be dismantled, with collaboration and creativity sacrificed in the name of hitting short-term targets. 

This kind of disengagement and mistrust can rapidly set the stage for an acceleration of things like employee theft, malingering, workplace bullying, and even white collar crime. High-caliber employees who operate with integrity won’t stick around in such an environment, so turnover can be the next sign that the hull of your business ethics vessel has been breached. At this juncture, damage to corporate culture can begin to manifest very much like an infection, with knock-on impacts seen in every area, and complaints and losses leaving leadership and HR running around in circles.

A Crisis In How Your Company is Perceived

With information sharing on social media at an all time high and review sites like Glassdoor growing increasingly popular, you can be certain that news of a business ethics crisis won’t remain under wraps for long. In an era that sees consumers value integrity more than ever when choosing where to invest their hard-earned dollars, the repercussions can be severe is your company’s credibility comes crashing down. Once this particular dam has burst, restoring consumer confidence can be a lengthy and costly undertaking. The key is to strike while the iron is hot—if you know that business ethics are not up to standard within your organization, act now to ensure that the many potential impacts of unethical activities are not allowed to ripple outwards.

How a Corporate Investigator Can Help You Get Business Ethics Back on Track

Many corporate leaders imagine that corporate investigation services are something to call on when crisis point has already been reached and a breach or crime has occurred. While it’s true that this kind of reactive investigative work is a facet of what we do, the corporate investigator also has a powerful role to play in risk prevention and pursuit of optimal performance. Business ethics and corporate culture are intricately interlinked, and an investigation into one will almost always shed light on the state of the other.
For any company wishing to raise their business ethics profile—whether aiming to prevent a downward spiral or mitigate damage already done—a Corporate Culture Audit is the best place to start. Our expert corporate investigators will illuminate the root causes that undermined your enterprise’s ethical status in the first place, and help you steer a course toward forging a thriving corporate culture that ensures productivity, innovation, and progress in all the right ways. Learn more about our comprehensive corporate auditing services today, or connect with our team to discuss your unique needs.