How to create a more ethical work environment

By Alice Porter

Nowadays, there’s more pressure than ever for companies to step up and take responsibility for the social, environmental, and economic impact of their organizations. With the rise of social media, it’s not only the government that has a say in the way business owners are running their company – consumers do too. This has catapulted many businesses into transforming the way they’re fundamentally run. Whether this is by analyzing the diversity within the company, quashing the gender pay gap or taking action against climate change. Companies will be held accountable for their choices.

So, as a business owner, how do you go about making your business as ethical as possible? We look into ways you can create a more ethical work environment for a happy, prosperous future.

Make ethics part of your day-to-day business

Don’t just add ‘ethics’ to your meeting quota; actually implement and apply it. Make it clear to your employees and customers that ethics is simply a part of the way you operate, integrated into the core of your business. It’s not a training program or reference manual; it’s a way of life. Every activity within the company should include conversations about ethics, and the impact it could have outside of the business. As a leader, you should also be setting an example by modelling the type of behavior you want to see in the workplace.

Create a sense of accountability

Without a chance of being held accountable, many people don’t feel the need to comply with ethical practices. It simply isn’t taken seriously enough. Therefore, creating a sense of accountability for ethical violations should ensure that employees are on board.

The vision, values and mission shared across the organization should be maintained by all staff, and as a business owner, you need to enforce a zero-tolerance policy for any violations. Make this policy freely available to all existing employees, and include clear guidelines in your employee handbook for staff to read over when they first start at the company.

Consider your corporate responsibility

Ethics go far beyond the people in your company. It also relates to the greater good, your corporate responsibility as a business. This includes your environmental impact. Every business has a ‘duty of care’ to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Analyze the way in which you could do more to fulfill your corporate responsibility. Whether this means you’ve got to switch energy suppliers or install a recycling scheme in the office, each small change can make a big difference.

Reward good behavior

It’s not all about condemning bad practices. In fact, businesses should put as much emphasis into rewarding good behavior as they do into punishing poor behavior. While news of sexual harassment, discrimination and ethics breaches are still not uncommon within the workplace, there are also a number of cases where people are being treated with care, dignity and respect.

As a leader, it’s important to acknowledge employees doing the right thing, so that they’re being uplifted as an example. This will help to continue the culture of ethics that is so crucial in a business.

Give power to the people

You may not be as involved in the business as you’d like. Consequently, you’re not the best person to speak to about what’s going on in the depths of the business – your employees are. There’s no better way to gather information about your work’s culture than asking the people who are there every day.

You could send out an anonymous questionnaire or even host focus groups for those who are more willing to share their views. Listen to what they have to say and take their suggestions seriously, reassuring them that you will be taking action.

Lead by example

Having a healthy workplace is one of the biggest factors of promoting healthy internal relationships. Ensure that your employees are invigorated and refreshed on a daily basis, in order to create better productivity levels. Provide healthy snacks in the office, fresh water fountain and invest in lots of green plants. This will help to keep the oxygen levels refreshed which will create a really healthy work environment.


Alice Porter works closely with Eversmart Energy to educate business owners on how to create a healthier workspace, both physically and mentally.

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