Where Does Your Ethical Compass Point?

A common misconception is that businesses must be cut-throat to be competitive or uncaring in order to succeed. In reality, there is reason to believe that companies that give up their business ethics for short-term success ultimately pay a higher price in the long-term.

Take Wachovia, for instance: Once a mainstay of economic success, Wachovia grew to become the fourth largest bank in America, only to become one of the earliest victims of the 2008 economic crisis. Prior to their collapse, Wachovia was found guilty of telemarketer fraud, giving access to client banking information to unethical telemarketers who took advantage of elderly banking customers. Wachovia knowingly processed unauthorized financial transactions, allowing payments for products or services that were never received by their customers.

Enron is perhaps the best-known example of corporate moral failures. Enron’s 2001 collapse is a stark reminder that charismatic leaders who seek excess at the expense of their communities and employees rarely succeed. Enron poured billions of dollars into derivatives-trading ventures that often failed. However, Enron made calculated efforts to bury those losses and generate imaginary revenues, creating the illusion of success despite immense financial failures.

Companies like these demonstrate common failures in corporate ethics, failures that ultimately harm their economic success. Although Wachovia and Enron are examples of companies that never recovered from their moral and economic missteps, ethical lapses can also hurt the bottom line of companies that continue to do business. Once bad business practices are exposed, a company’s reputation suffers.

These failures arise by not recognizing the value of their greatest assets: their employees.

The corporate culture is built from the bottom up: if company executives neglect to motivate employees or lead by example, individual employees may fail to embody the mission of the company, and corporate culture falters.

Companies with leaders who demonstrate a strong ethical compass are often the most successful and well revered. Dell, Google, Kellogg, Starbucks, Bain & Company and Microsoft are examples of organizations experiencing tremendous financial success while also maintaining impeccable reputations with their employees, potential hires, investors, and the broader public. These companies promote the work/life balance by structuring reasonable work hours, offer impressive benefits, and most importantly, respect individuals at all levels of the organization. This respect results in employees embracing and protecting their corporate culture. When leaders exhibit corporate integrity, employees understand moral missteps will not be tolerated.

In today’s environment, attentive companies explore what a candidate has done in their most recent position to influence their company’s success.

Executives Unlimited’s interview process seeks to examine the specific ways in which the executive candidate positively impacted and contributed to their company’s culture. Organizations are seeking leaders who not only embrace their own moral compass, but seek to elevate the ethical standards in which they work. Executives Unlimited succeeds because we work closely with our clients to develop a thorough and complete understanding of their corporate culture, ensuring we identify not only top flight talent, but individuals who embrace the same ideals as the hiring company.

Let us know your thoughts and opinions! Contact us at customerservice@executivesunlimited.com