Freshleaf training – business ethics

Here at Freshleaf two of the things we’re proud of are our commitment to training, and our business ethics. So recently, when we had a training slot scheduled, we decided to combine the two things, and spend some time discussing business ethics with the team.

Ethics in business can be a funny thing. Businesses exist to make money – and where money is concerned there’s the potential for greed, which in turn is at the root of so much unethical behaviour. Look at any of the scandals in the news over the last few years: MPs expenses, banks fixing the LIBOR rate, celebrities and huge corporations operating complex tax avoidance schemes…. even the horsemeat in food scandal essentially comes down to greed. It’s the desire of individuals to make more money for themselves, or to further themselves by making more money for their company (or both), that lead to the abandonment of what we individually know to be right, in favour of what we expect to be profitable.

Businesses’ attitudes to ethics vary from the genuinely ethical, through those who pay lip service to being ethical for PR purposes (how many people believe that Google thoroughly adheres to its “don’t be evil” ethic?) to those who quietly go about their business and hope not to be noticed, leaving nobody any the wiser until the scandal breaks in the news.

At Freshleaf one of our founding principles is to be firmly in the former category – being genuinely ethical in all of our activities. But we can only do that if we all understand what that means. In our session with the excellent Nicky Cooksley of HR & Training Doctor we looked at how business ethics are a combination of personal morality, combined with the expectations of the employer, the standards of the industry or profession, and of course the law of the land. We reviewed our ethical policy, and went further to draft a customer charter which outlines to our customers what levels of service and behaviour they can expect from us.

It gave us great food for thought, and we also had some interesting discussions about the personal ethics of various (non-work) situations, and how people go about justifying slightly or even massively unethical behaviour: “nobody will ever know and no-one will get hurt”; “everybody does it” etc.

Not your usual training topic, but, as it turns out, really worthwhile!

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