When you say the words ‘ethics’ and ‘business’, many people’s thought processes divert to the notion of respecting someone else’s work and intellectual property by not copycatting their creative concepts. (An integral first step to running a successful business!) But when you pair the words together, ‘ethical business’ takes on a whole new notion and is likely a term you’re hearing pop up more and more across the entrepreneurial landscape.
For many customers and clients, ethical consumerism is becoming a much bigger priority as environmental issues become more and more urgent. It’s no longer just about the user experience and amazing customer service, people now want to put their dollar where they can be assured that they’re purchasing ethically produced and sustainable outcomes.
Put simply, an ethical business is one that operates on core values and has a greater purpose beyond making a profit. Whether you offer products or services, are just getting started, or have seen a few summers in your business, it’s important that your business operates with integrity and is committed to creating positive change with the work you produce.
I’m not talking about raising millions of dollars or converting your business into a not-for-profit (although, these are amazing things), I’m talking about taking realistic small steps towards creating a more ethical and aligned business. Steps that instill clarity and purpose within your brand, remove blockages that impede your creative flow, as well as immensely improve your ability to create content that connects and resonates with your audience and your purpose.
So, how can you start aligning your business to be more ethical today?
1. Operate with transparency
The first step to aligning your brand to operate through a more conscious and ethical lens is to be transparent in all that you do. From clear and honest client communication to wearing your values on your sleeve for all to see, being transparent with your audience will build trust and integrity within your brand. It will also contribute to influencing a new benchmark and action towards positive change for your industry and peers. If you’re doing and being good, then there’s nothing to hide.
2. Wear your values on your sleeve
Your values are what inform every decision you make in both your personal and business lives. Having strong values rooted in compassion and genuine care for others and the environment ensures that you operate with integrity and intention.
3. Root your business within firm ethics
Influenced heavily by our values, our ethics drive our informed and intentional daily decisions. They’re the structure of our moral compass and keep us focussed on doing good work for good people. Whether it’s making the switch to sustainable packaging and marketing collateral, or switching to an ethical bank or super fund, being mindful throughout every part of your business will create a positive impact.
4. Express your gratitude by giving back
There’s no better way to express gratitude than to give back to those less fortunate. Embedding a cause within your business is one way you can share the love. Not for self-gratification, but seeing your contributions grow and affect positive change is humbling and encourages you to use your influence to build momentum in the movement.
5. Create with intention
Being intentional with the work and/or products you create will encourage your customers to make more conscious consumerist choices. There is so much media noise (no matter what industry you’re in) but doing good work for good people and creating with intention will align your business with the right audience and attract more of the good stuff.
Running an ethical and aligned business is not just a set it and forget it process though, we constantly have to work towards improving ourselves, our brands, and our industries, and be conscious of the impact we’re creating as societies and creative landscapes change and evolve.
You can still build and run a highly successful and profitable business while operating more ethically, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. The best outcome is the balance between the two. Learning to say ‘No’ is the most powerful and empowering thing we can learn to better ourselves and create a more conscious lifestyle and business. (But that’s a whole other topic in itself!)
When your business is aligned with your values and a greater cause, it inspires you to keep doing better. It encourages community, inclusivity, deep conversations, action, and innovation. This ethos applies to all, it’s not industry-specific. You simply need to be aware of how your business operates.