In a world that seems driven by profit margins and cutthroat competition, the concept of running an ethical business that genuinely helps people may sound like a pipe dream. However, a growing number of entrepreneurs and companies are showing us that it’s not only possible, but also a viable and sustainable way to do business. Building a better world through ethical business practices is not just a lofty dream; it’s a responsibility that every business owner should acknowledge and embrace.

What is an Ethical Business?

Before we delve into building a business that helps people, it’s important to understand what we mean by “ethical business.” Running an ethical business is much like living an ethical lifestyle; it’s all about considering the impact your actions, products and services have on people and even the environment. It’s a business that prioritizes values, principles, and the well-being of society over profit. Profit still matters, but we’re talking about making decisions that benefit not only the bottom line, but also employees, customers, communities, and the world.

The Power of Purpose

A clear sense of purpose is the cornerstone of an ethical business. These businesses are driven by a mission to create a positive impact on the world, and their stated purpose serves as a guiding star, shaping every decision and action taken by the company.

What’s really interesting about having a purpose-driven business is that it’s not only good for the world, but also for business. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 81% of consumers (globally) say they must be able to trust a brand to do what’s right. Another study, performed by Cone Communications, found that 87% of consumers said they would purchase a product if a company advocated for an issue they cared about, and 76% said they’d refuse to purchase a product if they found out a company supported an issue contrary to their beliefs. Consumers are increasingly seeking out businesses that align with their core values. What’s more, employees are also more engaged when they feel their work is contributing to a greater good. That sounds like a win all round.

Transparency and Honesty

Building trust is paramount for any business. Transparency and honesty are the building blocks of trust, and businesses who are open about their practices, products, and services tend to build a loyal customer base. Companies who don’t hide behind a facade of false advertising or opaque operations attract customers who trust them.

For example, if a company claims to be environmentally friendly, they should provide evidence of their sustainability efforts, such as carbon footprint reductions or responsible sourcing practices. Honesty about the limits of these efforts is just as important. Transparency means admitting mistakes, addressing issues, and continually working to improve.

Fair and Ethical Treatment of Employees

Employees are the backbone of any company, and ethical businesses recognize the importance of treating them with fairness and respect. This includes offering fair wages, providing safe working conditions, and creating a workplace culture of inclusivity and diversity.

They also support their employees’ growth and development, both professionally and personally. This not only benefits the individuals, it also strengthens the company by nurturing a loyal and engaged workforce.

Social Responsibility and Community Engagement

An ethical business understands its role in the larger community. It doesn’t operate in isolation but actively engages with and contributes to the well-being of the community it serves. I’m not talking about presenting a false image but being actively involved in such things as supporting local charities, participating in volunteer initiatives, or implementing programs that directly benefit the community. It’s all about taking social responsibility seriously, and taking into consideration the broader impact of their actions on society and taking steps to mitigate harm.

Prioritizing Customer Well-being

An ethical business puts the well-being of their customers first. That means delivering high-quality products and services that meet or exceed customer expectations. It also means fair pricing and open channels of communication. These businesses will intentionally seek feedback from their customers and use it to make improvements.

Long-term Thinking

An ethical business operates with a long-term perspective. They understand that quick profits often come at the expense of sustainability. Instead of pursuing short-term gains, they invest in strategies that ensure their viability and impact for years to come.

Challenges and Rewards

Running an ethical business may require more effort, resources, and time to implement certain practices, but rewards are more than worth the investment. They’re even better equipped to weather crises and adapt to changing market conditions because their core values and purpose remain constant.

In a world facing numerous social and environmental challenges, ethical businesses play a crucial role in building a better world. By prioritizing values, transparency, and the well-being of everyone involved, they can create a positive impact that extends far beyond mere profit margins.