Characteristics of an Ethical Organization

February 10, 2022

There was a time when the business world was all about the bottom line. Profit margins ruled the day, and ethics took a back seat more than once. However, these days ethics and business success are more intertwined; research shows that 84% of consumers examine a company’s ethics before deciding to make a purchase.

If you want your business to succeed, you need to make sure your company has a reputation for ethical behavior. And how do you do that? By shifting your corporate culture and transforming into an ethical organization. 

What Makes an Organization Ethical?

Even if your business always obeyed the law and industry regulations, you might not hold the title of “ethical organization.” This is because business ethics isn’t just about following the rules – it’s about creating an environment that strives to benefit their community as much as itself.

So how do you create an ethical organization? It all starts at the top. Changing corporate culture requires change from the C-suite and other higher-ups, which can inspire change among employees and attract new talent whose values align with the company.

To help an ethical culture take root in your company, make sure your managers and executives are modeling the following qualities:


One of the best ways to facilitate ethics in your company is to show everyone you encounter some respect. No business thrives as a solo operation and acknowledging the efforts of your vendors, employees, and customers (you wouldn’t have a successful business without their patronage) can help foster a sense of community. 

Showing your employees, vendors, and customers respect can help inspire loyalty and positive feelings towards your business. It can even boost productivity; a 2018 poll from Harvard Business Review found that respect was the leading factor that encouraged greater commitment from American workers. 

Ultimately, showing people respect is a sure-fire way to earn their respect in return. This will help encourage respect and ethics throughout your organization, and it will also help you build a better reputation in your industry and community.


Integrity boils down to rules we all learned as children: don’t lie, cheat, or steal. However, you only need to look at a list of business scandals from recent years to see that integrity is often in short supply! But if you want to be an ethical business, you will need to embrace integrity and do everything you can to keep it intact.

What does this look like in practice? It means thoroughly investigating misconduct when your employees report it – and punishing people appropriately if they’ve done something wrong. It means encouraging your workers to do their work well, rather than pressuring them to meet certain quotas or make a deal at any cost. It means being fully honest when your company files its taxes each year! These displays of integrity will show everyone that your business is committed to being honorable and ethical.

Concern for Employees, Customers, and the Community

As we mentioned earlier, your business wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of your employees and the customers in your community. Therefore, an ethical business would do its part to give back to these groups that have helped you enjoy the success you have!

For employees, showing concern is relatively easy. You simply have to take care of them! Make sure your office buildings are safe, allow workers to care for their health (both physical and mental), and ensure that your employees earn enough to take care of themselves. This can make a world of difference in the way your employees behave on the job.

As for customers and the community, you can demonstrate your commitment to ethics in several different ways. Strive to run your business in a sustainable way that benefits the environment. Listen to your customer’s comments and make changes that benefit them. You can even sponsor a local sports team or host an event for a school or community project! 

A Set of Core Values

Finally, the last thing every ethical business needs is an established set of core values. Write them down and make sure every employee has access to them, either through an employee handbook or with signage in your office. Then, measure all business activities around how well they align with these values!

When you respect your employees, care for your community, and run your business with integrity, it’s easy to become an ethical organization. And once you do, you’ll be surprised to see that ethical practices can be hugely beneficial! 

Contact Ethico today to learn more about business ethics and find the solutions that will start your business on the right track.