Monday, May 31, 2010
Business Ethics Forum (U.S.) in its May 2005 issue highlighted two kinds of compulsive approaches towards ethics – ones who ‘exist as streamlined examples of the impact of organisational leadership on a company's ethical culture’ and the ones who were still to evolve structured ethical norms and practices. We are referring to two things that need to catch our attention: 2005 and U.S. What is the plight of SMEs in our country in 2010?
Are they still grappling with profitability vis-a-vis taxation, infrastructure and government support? ‘We want more’ is the philosophy? What are they doing to alleviate these issues? Approach the employers’ forums such as the FICCI, CII, ASSOCHAM and the like to fight it out and voice their woes through seminars and conventions? That’s it and that’s about all! Isn’t there a need to make efforts as an organisation too? What would be the obvious course? Get a name for oneself and a name to reckon with, so that every other need is catered to spontaneously by vendors, suppliers, contractors or even the government.
How does one get it? There are different ways. We all know that earning a name is through branding or brand-building. The question is as to what kind of branding would lead to this sustenance. Product branding – well the life cycle is too short. Corporate branding – do they wish to spend so much? Employment branding – well yes, but cannot be built quickly, because it calls for massive cultural change. Business ethics and ethics in the workplace is the answer. We were approached by a certain company, a MNC [not mentioning the name deliberately] to evolve an ethical culture in the organisation. We refused to undertake the assignment, because we observed a fallacy in the intentions. The marketplace they were operating in called for nothing else but corruption and they were not prepared to deal with it differently. Today, the company not only has very low brand equity and perhaps is also still struggling to find a respectable market share.
Practices, such as bribing the inspectors and getting away with non-compliance of required legalities, is not unheard of, in the SME sector. While business ethics has been added as a compulsory subject for many B-schools, it’s a pity to see that what is preached is not practiced. What the entrepreneurs in the SME sector fail to realise that if they were unethical for acquiring profitability, they were being myopic and not realising that being ethical would earn them a name in all spheres – corporate identity, product marketability, retention of competent employees and eventually popularity amongst the masses without even hyping their CSR agenda.
The journey has been long and we at PERCON have been patient enough to watch the changes that have come through...this would also happen...we are zestfully hopeful!