Managing a business ethically is part of being professional and a driver of success from many standpoints. An organisation can use the marketing route in its day-to-day operations, to communicate the vision, mission and corporate values. Ironically, whilst there is a trend towards believing that true values are being gradually lost, at the same time, they are sought after and there is a thirst for experiencing them. Practicing good values helps organisations, whether they are for profit or voluntary, to be effective in creating a good reputation, engagement, earn stakeholder support and a leading position on the market. Organisations, whether public or corporate, which are led by people practicing ethical values both in and out of work can also have a very positive effect. The difference between solely abiding by what is legal and being professionally ethical, is really and truly felt by clients and the market environment.
The values and purpose of a business emanate from its vision and mission. Living up to sound values through its products, services and the process in which these are delivered and communicated to its customers and various stakeholders, contributes to a positive emotional affinity with an organisation and what it does. Standards, certification, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), care for the environment, responsible packaging and other similar elements surround the operation of many of today’s businesses. Among others, these serve the purpose of a guarantee of quality and reliability, to earn trust and client engagement.
An organisation which makes an emphasis on a good purpose and not just profit, is a great motivator for earning employee loyalty, productivity and cultivates a sense of belonging. It is also a way of creating customer engagement. Assurances that company resources come from ethical sources and others such as no cruelty to animals, are today not only of interest but imposed by regulations from policy makers. Examples of this include communicating ISO certification and safety standards, holding the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) mark by organsations dealing in paper products, the HACCP approach by the food industry and other certification, and granting equal opportunities and inclusion. All these are ways in which organisations hold a reputation and qualify to supply other organisations; they are also criteria to maintain a top rank in the business world, apart from financial performance.
Marketing has the mechanisms to communicate and embed these ethical and professional processes into the organisation’s day-to-day functioning. Consumer-buying decisions are not only based on the benefits and features of products and services but include emotions and other human elements such as security, reassurance, a good sense of wellbeing, among others. For example, when buying an appliance or an air-conditioning unit, customers seek warranties, after-sales service and a brand name which carries other elements such as safety, health considerations, modern or trendy, apart from good functionality, reliability and possibly the look to blend in with the rest of the furnishings. Building brand values and communicating how the companies which produce them operate, is a challenge for marketers to bring out the brand and the company identity within society. CSR initiatives are also very often treated as activities aside of the normal business whereas the choice of CSR initiatives should represent the company’s values and reflect its mission and identity.
All this can be achieved when a company’s marketing plan forms part of the overall business plan and its contents are included in the decision making process at boardroom level and embedded in the day to day operations.