Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 28th 2016 Contents To the average person, business
ethics sounds like an airy-fairy
concept with limited relevance
to the real world. The practice
of business is to buy cheap
and sell expensive and not to
bother, in some instances, whether the cheap
price obtained or the high selling price, is
ethical or not. To many, business ethics is a
public relations stunt employed by large suc-
cessful companies to look good.
The pace, scale and complexity of modern
business has forced a change in how business
is done. While it is accepted that it is foolish
to do business with someone who is not trust-
worthy, the question arises whether you can
trust someone who is not ethical in all of their
Short timelines, tight supply chains and
narrowing margins mean that chances cannot
be taken that suppliers or customers will not
honour their contracts as expected. Suppliers
and customers are now becoming partners
and stakeholders in business, and relationships
with them are becoming more and more
underpinned by trust.
Trust is built on expectations of truth in
words and consistency in behaviour. It is
impossible to do profitable business with some-
one who says one thing one day and does
There is also exposure to legal penalties.
Companies involved in international trade
have to represent their products to potential
or current clients based on their expected
inputs by the suppliers. A company that is
involved in illegal activities, or knowingly fal-
sifies information on inputs supplied, can
create serious problems for its business part-
ners. A company with a good reputation and
solid brands has much to lose, and should not
take chances with its brand value.
Another issue challenging the practice of
good business ethics is the values which
employees bring to the work environment.
Much has been said over the years about the
deterioration of employees work ethics. The
impact of poor work ethics results in low pro-
ductivity owed to high levels of absenteeism,
tardiness, theft and acceptance of bribe taking.
Unfortunately, many employees seem not to
understand the concept of conflict of interest
nor see anything wrong with it.
A company that wishes to be efficient and
competitive cannot accept this state of affairs.
There is a strong business case for the intro-
duction of structured programmes to support
ethical behaviour in companies, size notwith-
These programmes should be more than
a mere encouragement to be honest, and
should be based on clearly articulated values
that are linked to the overall vision and mis-
sion of the company.
The promotion of high standards of business
ethics remains central to the mission of the
We strongly endorse the drive towards sup-
porting good practices in business and raising
levels of awareness of the need to fight unac-
ceptable levels of corruption and malpractice
which can ultimately impede growth, job cre-
ation and economic development.
As such, every member on joining the cham-
ber undertakes to observe the members code
The T&T Chamber believes that the imple-
mentation of a business ethics programme
can contribute to an improved culture at a
company, and improved overall performance.
Ethics in business should not be taken lightly
and we believe that such a programme is well
worth practising for the growth and develop-
ment of business.
JANUARY 28 • 2016 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG15
T&T Chamber of
Industry and Commerce
Do business ethics really exist?
The Manual of Business Ethics for
Small- and Medium-Sized Enter-
prises---prepared by the Inter-Ameri-
can Investment Corporation (IIC) and
the US Department of Commerce---
describes the following benefits
• Enhanced reputation and goodwill:
A reputation for integrity is important for
securing the loyalty of customers, for re-
cruiting and training the best staff, for
winning community acceptance and ac-
cessing bank and supplier credit.
• Risk reduction: The process of devel-
oping a business ethics programme in-
volves the company in identifying and
assessing the factors that could pose
risks to reputation and financial perform-
ance, and developing and implementing
the business processes that reduce those
• Reduced costs: Providing employees
with clear guidelines of how to conduct
day to day business such as where and
when to obtain quotations; how to carry
out tenders,; how to conclude contracts
and how to avoid conflicts of interest can
reduce transaction costs and improve the
supply chain function.
• Protection from unethical employ-
ees: A programme would include clear
guidance in respect of the misappropria-
tion and unauthorised use of company
resources, and the consequences that
could flow from violations, information
that employees with undeveloped values
may not fully appreciate.
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