Businesses have always been able to get away with a lot. Historically, the bigger the business, the more leeway they had to do things a normal person might consider ethically challenged, at best .Remember the Great Recession and the banks that were considered “too big to fail?” That made a lot of people justifiably angry.
Thankfully, there are signs of change, at least in some quarters. The Internet is a great way to motivate people to rally for a cause now, and many people are rallying to force companies to be more socially responsible. There’s also more suspicion cast upon people who inherited ownership of a company from their parents.
People want qualified business leaders, not just a family dynasty. There’s a sense that what you’ve done should matter more than who you are. We’re a long way from becoming a pure meritocracy, but at the very least, consumer advocates are trying to keep business owners accountable.
For instance, advertising is the lifeblood of most TV and radio programs. A concerted effort to get companies to pull their ads from a show can work wonders nowadays. It’s not uncommon for the cycle to go something like this: A TV host gets accused of doing bad things. He or she is accused of doing the bad things repeatedly. Activists send out a call over social media for companies to stop advertising with that show. Companies quickly cancel their ads, and the show is soon taken off the air.
So if you want your business to thrive, it doesn’t matter if you have five employees or five thousand: You should act as ethically as possible right from the get-go. Being environmentally conscious is a good way to start. If you’re running a restaurant, replace your styrofoam to-go containers with recyclable plastic.
If you’re in manufacturing, look for products that help you be as energy efficient as possible. On your company’s website, put up a page explaining your company’s values, as well as the everyday ways in which you try to abide by them. Transparency will go a long way towards winning the trust of potential customers.
If you’re running a family business, you may also have to work a bit harder to ensure you did more than just win the genetic lottery. Obtaining a Masters of Business Administration is a sign that you’re eager and willing to learn as much as possible about running a business. In many quarters, an MBA is considered the bare minimum for people looking to own or operate a business.
And you don’t even have to stop working to get the degree, as there are plenty of opportunities to get an MBA online. Look into a State MBA online and similar programs. You want to find a program that’s associated with a brick-and-mortar university, as those are generally considered more credible than the online-only schools.
We’re living in an era where consumers expect more from the companies they frequent, and that’s mostly a good thing. If you let your customer base know that you’re committed to doing things a certain way, and then follow through, you’re more likely to receive their loyalty in return.