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Several factors play a role in the success of a company that are beyond the scope of financial statements alone. Organizational culture, management philosophy and ethics in business each have an impact on how well a business performs in the long term. No matter the size, industry or level of profitability of an organization, business ethics are one of the most important aspects of long-term success.

Ethics in Leadership

The management team sets the tone for how the entire company runs on a day-to-day basis. When the prevailing management philosophy is based on ethical practices and behavior, leaders within an organization can direct employees by example and guide them in making decisions that are not only beneficial to them as individuals, but also to the organization as a whole. Building on a foundation of ethical behavior helps create long lasting positive effects for a company, including the ability to attract and retain highly talented individuals and building and maintaining a positive reputation within the community. Running a business in a ethical manner from the top down builds a stronger bond between individuals on the management team, further creating stability within the company.

Employee Ethics

When management is leading an organization in an ethical manner, employees follow in those footsteps. Employees make better decisions in less time with business ethics as a guiding principle; this increases productivity and overall employee morale. When employees complete work in a way that is based on honesty and integrity, the whole organization benefits. Employees who work for a corporation that demands a high standard of business ethics in all facets of operations are more likely to perform their job duties at a higher level and are also more inclined to stay loyal to that organization.

Business Ethics Benefits

The importance of business ethics reaches far beyond employee loyalty and morale or the strength of a management team bond. As with all business initiatives, the ethical operation of a company is directly related to profitability in both the short and long term. The reputation of a business from the surrounding community, other businesses and individual investors is paramount in determining whether a company is a worthwhile investment. If a company's reputation is less than perfect based on the perception that it does not operate ethically, investors are less inclined to buy stock or otherwise support its operations.

Companies have more and more of an incentive to be ethical as the area of socially responsible and ethical investing keeps growing. The increasing number of investors seeking out ethical operating companies to invest in is driving more firms to take this issue more seriously.

With consistent ethical behavior comes increasingly positive public image, and there are few other considerations as important to potential investors and current shareholders. To retain a positive image, businesses must be committed to operating on an ethical foundation as it relates to treatment of employees, respect to the surrounding environment and fair market practices in terms of price and consumer treatment.

Be sure to read these articles to understand how ethical plays became important and how they differ across multiple industries - How have business ethics evolved over time? and How do business ethics differ from industry to industry?

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