Being an Ethical Company

Recently, I was involved in a long discussion with a gentleman who claimed that companies only exist to make a profit. His stance was that since any company’s single aim is to make as much profit as possible, they can’t therefore be ethical. In fact, they must be ethics free.

This gentleman was wrong.

Before we examine why, let us first define what is means to be ethical. According to the Oxford Advance Learner’s Dictionary, being ethical is to be connected with beliefs and principles about what is right and what is wrong. An implication of this definition, is that being ethical is a subjective choice.  This means that what is ethical for me, might not be the case for you or the other way round.

It’s true that companies don’t need to be ethical. Their main goal is, as the gentleman above pointed out, to make profit. However, this makes them far from ethics free. Any decisions about how to make this profit, are per definition ethical choices. Will you use ingredients that are sustainable and ethically sourced for your manufacturing process? Do your products pollute the environment, or contribute to climate change? Are they tested on animals, or otherwise impact on animal rights? Do your products or services directly or indirectly involve people whose worker’s and human rights are suppressed?

There are various dimensions in which a company can define its ethical stance, and people tend to give more or less emphasis on some of them depending on their values and beliefs. The magazine Ethical Consumer provides guidance that some people might find helpful. Based on its research, it lists four main categories in their ethical ratings: environment, animals, people and politics. In addition, they have a fifth positive ratings dimension which includes company ethos and product sustainability.

As the owner of a small company, it’s important that you not only establish your own identity, but also communicate it clearly and effectively to the outside world. It’s not enough to know that your values and beliefs reflect your ethical stance; you need to be perceived doing what you preach. Your mission statement and positioning should reflect that identity, as well as make clear what is important for you. You should use words that you would like people to associate with your business, and your statement should contain information about what makes you different than other companies out there which operate in the same field. Furthermore, it’s crucial that not only you, but also all staff associated with your business consistently bring across the same message. If you are doing all of the above right, chances are that your transparency and authenticity are seen by your customers as great virtues, leading them to rate your company highly and spread the word, increasing your client base.

Kostas The Coach is a Personal Performance and Small Business Coach based in Slough, UK. I help creative people develop their individuality and businesses grow sustainably while remaining ethical.
Kostas The Coach site
Email: Kostasthecoach@gmail.com

 

The Mouse that Roared*

“Be yourself no matter what they say”
Sting, Englishman in New York

As a creative individual or aspiring business person, chances are you will have received at some point The Advice. It usually takes the form of: “In order to be successful in your field, you need to do X or Y; if you haven’t been successful, it’s because you either haven’t read The Advice, or you haven’t followed it through correctly”. Every year there are literally hundreds of articles, books and blogs containing The Advice. It doesn’t restrict itself to one field; you can find it in the creative enterprises, in businesses and in all forms of human endeavour where there is room for growth, success and self-improvement.

But do you really need The Advice? Would you be unable to cope and be successful unless you follow a certain formula, usually given by self-proclaimed experts in their respective fields?   

You don’t. No matter what they tell you, not many of the experts who give advice know whether the advice they give is directly related to their success. Just because people are good at something, it doesn’t mean that they know what makes them successful.

In his excellent book The Inner Game of Tennis”Timothy Gallwey points out that any performance occupies aspects in two different parts of our minds, both underpinned by different neural circuitry; the conscious mind is preoccupied with the technical aspects of performance. As these aspects are easier to perceive and measure, most of The Advice is concentrating on such aspects. If you play in a band, chances are you will hear advice about how to network, how to talk to labels, how to create and sell your merch etc. As a business, you will hear things about making a SWOT analysis, identifying your ideal customers, conducting market research etc. Gallway points out that while the aspects related to the conscious mind are important, what truly enhances performance is the way their conscious mind interacts with the unconscious mind. He calls this the inner game, a game which takes place in the mind of the player, and is played against such obstacles as lapses in concentration, nervousness, self-doubt and self-condemnation.

The idea of the Inner Game is that the unconscious mind knows what needs to be done to achieve success and enhance performance, but it’s usually sabotaged by the conscious mind which likes to be in control. His solution is to be consciously unconscious: to create a state where the mind is so concentrated, so focused that it is still.

This state of being consciously unconscious requires you to amplify your inner voice in order for it to be heard above your conscious mind, and above that of The Advice that tells you what to do and how to do it, often against your inner instincts. That unconscious voice is faint and weak, as it is often suppressed by the constant humming of your conscious mind. You need to listen carefully to your inner mouse, and understand what it is telling you. You need to amplify that inner voice, in order to hear its roaring.

The conscious mind is your critical voice and as it has helped you navigate the perils of life, it feels entitled to be there at all times as a background commentary to everything you do. For that reason, it is often referred to as your Gremlin. The problem with the Gremlin is that, blinded by its success in negotiating your survival, it feels it needs to be constantly in control of the proceedings, even when it’s not appropriate to do so.

The Advice can only take you so far. Chances are that, unless you are an absolute beginner in your field, you would have read it and followed it through at some point. However, to be truly successful in what you want to achieve, you need to do more than enhance the technical aspects of your skill and follow through the ‘formula of success’. Because as you are doing so, hundreds of other competitors in your field will be doing exactly the same. To make the difference, you need to understand what makes you unique, different and what makes you tick. You need to conquer your fears, acknowledge and understand how the Gremlin is holding you back and create your own path to fulfilment, success and ultimately inner and outer wellbeing.               

Kostas The Coach is a Personal Performance and Small Business Coach based in Slough, UK. I help creative people develop their individuality and businesses grow sustainably while remaining ethical.
Kostas The Coach site
Email: Kostasthecoach@gmail.com

*The Mouse that Roared is an excellent Cold War satirical novel by Leonard Wibberley which has also been adapted to a film starring Peter Sellers. This blog is not related to either the film or the novel, but focuses on how to unleash your inner voice and make your inner mouse roar like a lion!