The lack of ethics, a culture which does not embrace ethics, costs everyone.
It was a privilege to be the keynote speaker at the May 17th Greater Dallas Business Ethics Awards and see this principle applauded. The award honors Dallas-based companies that clearly demonstrate a “measurable commitment to ethical business practices in everyday operations, management philosophies and responses to crisis or challenges.”
A rigorous competition, this year 30 companies were nominated and 4 were chosen, for this exceptional commitment to operate under ethical principles. Each of the four: Imprimis Group, Lone Star Analysis, Staffelbach and UR Holdings, have been successfully operating in the DFW Metroplex for a number of years. They have maintained a 95% plus overall customer satisfaction rating, and have seen record profits in the last few years.
Each one of the companies is also involved in considerable community outreach which involves their employees. And, each honor the company values, openly and vocally. This is not just something that is mounted on the wall, but a way of life and a way of doing business that everyone in the organization commits to.
As each of the winners took the stage to receive their award, I was touched by their humility. Each one thanked their employees, the community and their customers in a truly heartfelt way. And each made no bones about their commitment to their values and doing the right thing for their company and related shareholders. It was very obvious that their ethical principles were a bedrock foundation and not just lip service as I later talked about using examples of companies decidedly not well known for their ethical behavior.
The crowning event of that luncheon was the tribute paid to Cary M. Maguire, Dallas philanthropist and businessman. Among other notable tributes, Cary established the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility at Southern Methodist University in 1995.The Center supports student and faculty ethics-related education and activities, as well as outreach to the community and public and private institutions.
The creation of the “Spirit of Ethics” award was inspired by Mr. Maguire’s’ tireless leadership and advocacy for ethics and the qualities which define principled behavior in all areas of business as well as personal lives. This award will be bestowed upon Dallas-based companies that demonstrate and champion the above and beyond ethical practices that inspire even higher levels of ethics.
It was an inspiring afternoon. To be part of a celebration of well run businesses that are honored for their values, their character and their integrity gave me pause to think. What if this was everyday business, business as usual? What if all companies followed ethical guiding principles? If ethical behavior was the expectation, how hard would it be to do the right thing, each and every day?
What if the reward followed the expectation that if you do the right thing for your employees, if you do the right thing for your customers, you just might make a profit rather than engineer profit based on greed?
So let me ask, what companies would you nominate for an ethics award? Yours? Others?
Are you demanding ethical behavior within your own company? Is that the expectation?
I’d love to hear from you on this.
As Cary Maguire reminded us: Ethics is good business.
We need the courage to tell it like it is, when we don’t see the “spirit of ethics” followed.