Why should I implement ethical practices in my small business?
Every business, no matter how big or small should be implementing ethical practices in their company. Not only does it make for better work culture and help the environment, but it also attracts like-minded clients and consumers who are more likely to be loyal to an ethical small business.
Being an ethical business increases brand awareness and reputation, giving many long-term benefits to your small business. This blog post will give you ideas of ethical practices that you can implement in your small business today, to benefit both your business and the wider community and environment.
What is an ethical business?
The Cambridge Dictionary’s definition of business ethics is: “Rules, principles, and standards for deciding what is morally right or wrong when doing business.” Every big and small business needs to implement ethical practices and the best part is that you get to decide what these practices will be. All you need to do is map out appropriate policies for your business and then put them into practice.
How can you implement ethical practices in your small business?
Being an ethical business starts by simply stating the way you want your business to be run and how you want your brand to be represented. You decide what you and your small business stand for, whether that may be equal opportunities for all or making a pledge to ethically and responsibly source your products.
1. Identifying and defining your ethical standards
What does an ethical small business mean to you?
Your Code of Ethics is usually a guide with principles designed to help you conduct your business with honesty and with integrity. It does not have to be a formal piece of writing, it could just be a blog post outlining your business ethics and values.
Considerations for your Code of Ethics:
- How would you like customers to be treated?
- Is sustainability at the forefront of what you do?
- Do you have a sustainability certification and are your customers aware of it?
- How are you going to implement ethical business practices in your daily work?
- Does your small business use a factory and if so have you been visiting regularly to make sure that your products are ethically sourced?
These questions may seem like they have obvious answers but they need to be addressed to ensure the ethical standards of your business are developed and maintained. This is particularly important as you grow your business and start outsourcing to a VA!
2. Sustainability practices and your small business
What are the benefits of making your small business more sustainable?
Not only does it massively help the environment, but it also helps your small business! Small businesses have a big impact on the environment as does each individual. As a small business owner, you can make sustainability part of your mission and it does not have to be difficult! To help you on your sustainability journey, we have put together a checklist to help you keep on top of sustainability in your small business! – download the small business sustainability checklist here.
3. Promoting ethical behaviour in your small business
Having a sustainability accreditation will help your small business to be seen as an environmentally conscious one. By implementing ethical practices you can achieve sustainability certifications for your small business through actions such as ethically sourcing your products or going green. Being seen as an eco-conscious business will bring in similar customers and clients who want to help you in your mission of being more ethical and sustainable. Encouraging customers to reuse and recycle packaging or promoting a cause to raise awareness of ethical issues are more simple ways that you can promote ethical behaviour in your small business.
4. Living your brand as an ethical business owner
As important as it is setting up a Code of Ethics and implementing ethical business practices in your small business, living your brand as an ethical business owner is just as important! You are your small business and there are so many benefits to becoming an ethical business owner that do not stop at benefiting the environment.
“A brand itself is neither good nor bad. However, the values, strategies and actions of the company/organisation/person behind it can influence the perception of the brand as being good or bad, ethical or unethical.”
According to Forbes, 88% of Consumers want you to help them make a difference, and globally we are becoming more conscious of the environment. Making yourself a part of that change means living your brand as an ethical business owner authentically, which sets you apart from other small businesses and attracts loyal customers. For example, for me, I am a nervous driver and would much rather relax on the train than drive anywhere. As an ethical entrepreneur, favouring public transport makes perfect sense and this is just one of the ways I live my brand every day.
5. Keeping ethics at the heart of your small business
The most important thing is to keep ethics in mind with everything that you do for your small business.
“An ethical business is one that considers the impact its actions, products and services have on the environment, people and animals. This includes the end product or service, its origins, and how it’s manufactured and distributed.”
It is not enough to build a code of ethics that you never look at again; have it somewhere visible, refer back to it and make ethics a part of your small business’ ethos. Sustainability is a great way to implement ethical practices in your small business, but making sure you are networking and working with companies who share your ethical values is also paramount.
Implementing Ethical Practices in your small business
This may all seem daunting, but don’t feel overwhelmed! You might need support throughout this process and that’s okay! By outsourcing some of your day to day tasks of running your small business such as keeping up with social media and marketing, you can have more time to focus on your ethical and environmental goals. As an ethical VA service, we can help you become more ethical, sustainable, and most importantly reach clients and consumers looking for a company just like yours.
What is the next step you can take on your journey as an ethical small business right now? For more ideas and inspiration, make sure to check out our sustainability checklist here!