Globalization has made the world smaller to reach anyone, larger in being able to sell to anyone, and more competitive as global companies reach every shore. But increased competition and push to constantly increase market shares have led to an erosion in good ethical practices.
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The fresh news of behemoths like Amazon and Google facing probes over concerns of fake five-star reviews may seem like just another storm in a teacup, but I believe this is cause for concern for many of us.
Because “Trust” is the backbone of any business. If trust is broken, a business cannot survive. Any intelligent business owner knows this.
The legacy of business and trust is established under the aegis of principles and values. Principles are the objective reality, that transcends our society, beliefs, and culture. Values are subjective and can be influenced.
Finding a balance between the unchanging principles and malleable values is what defines:
Business is a profession of managing or supervising the production and sale of goods and services. The process involves many branches such as management consultancy, marketing consultancy, retailing, etc.; all of which have one thing in common – they are driven by ethics.
Ethics (a blend of principles and values) guide our behavior. And be it on an individual level or in business; and it is behavior that shapes the destiny.
The city of Moscow in Russia is blanketed by thick layers of snow in the winter, including the building of ‘Center for Business Ethics & Compliance.’
Most people working in this building dreaded coming and leaving the office in their cars, as doing so means they have to clean their parking spaces to be able to get their cars out. There was a young boy who used to clean parking spots for a small company, but as a gesture of goodwill, he used to clean a few extra parking places, including an elderly man’s parking spot.
One day this young man received an interview call from the Center. As he was getting inside the elevator to reach his destination, he spilled some of his coffee on his shirt and tie. The young man panicked.
Fortunately, he had company in the elevator. The same old man. He offered the young guy his shirt and tie. So as the elevator opened, the young man was wearing a shirt and tie, and our old man was seen wearing a jacket and a T-shirt.
When parting ways, the old man said, “It’s my lucky tie”.
As the young man entered the interview room, the manager conducting the interview said, “That’s a nice tie! Where did you get it?”
The young man was honest, he narrated the entire elevator story, to which the manager said, “If our senior vice-president made sure you look your best for the job’s interview, then you are hired.”
This story was shared by Anatoly Yakorev, Director, Center for Business Ethics & Compliance, Moscow, Russia.
In business or life, we are faced with situations where we are challenged to decide to do what feels right. This is when we need to look deep inside ourselves and decide which way to go, without fear of consequences, or without questioning our self-worth; and the best way to hone that kind of fearless moral compass within is through:
The only reason why people fail to adhere to ethical codes is that their consciousness remains unawake.
Our consciousness is the guiding light and moral compass in our lives.
We imagined flight, took to the sky in planes we designed and built, and then aspired further to reach the Moon and beyond.
One Thought – that is how it all begins.
A thought came into the human mind to define the value of goods, and the concept of money was invented. Similarly, an imagined engine that automated business analysis led to the creation of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, a fully programmable computer that foreshadowed the entire computer age. But it is the same imagination, which if not managed well can destroy an entire business system.
Take the case of the energy-trading and utility company Enron that faced an ethical accounting scandal in 2001, which sent the company to bankruptcy. Enron used ‘mark-to-market’ accounting to fake its profits, which simply meant the company worked to make their losses look smaller than they were and played with the numbers to make their income look higher. The scandal was caught after Enron’s stock plummeted when the news leaked out, and the SEC began to investigate.
The whole thing likely began as a thought that manifested as a scandal later.
We as individuals must learn to conquer our thoughts. And as we do so, the same reflects in our business decisions.
The only way to conquer our thoughts is through embracing Spirituality.
Regular spiritual practice broadens our awareness and vision. It gives us that much-needed patience, to hold on when things are not going right, and the energy to act when needed to reach our goals.
Often spiritualists detest business, and spirituality is put-off by business people, who say, ‘It’s impractical.’ However, our ancestors thought otherwise. According to them, if business was the legs supporting society, spirituality was the heart that kept society going. A society functioned best with both in working order.
Business brings material comfort into our lives, and spirituality brings mental peace.
This connection is solid indeed, as spirituality helps the mind run peacefully and thoughts to form effectively. Effective thoughts help formulate an ethical value system, and when the same value system is regulated in business, it becomes a successful venture.
Spirituality gives us the heart to serve, and the spirit to innovate, both of which are integral for running a business.