Ed. Note-today we have a guest posting from our colleague north of the border-Lindsey Walker from i-sight.com 

Brand value and reputation can really take a beating when a company is faced with accusations of unethical behavior in the workplace. Information travels faster and is more accessible now than ever before, which makes “laying low” virtually impossible – just ask Tiger Woods. In the article “Ethics Branding” by Steve Brock, he focuses in on why workplace ethics are heavily connected to the power of your brand:

“Your brand is more than just a logo or tagline. It involves everything you do. Every touch point with customers affects their perspective of you, and thus your brand. Ethics matter because they are at the heart of your values. Values matter because they are at the heart of your brand.”

Ethics Matters

A company with a bad reputation will have a hard time holding onto customers and attracting top talent. Consumers care about ethics. Job seekers and potential candidates care about ethics too.

The results of a survey conducted by creative agency, 23red, help support the fact that consumers care about ethics. There were 1000 people interviewed for the survey and they were asked questions about brand ethics and how it affects their purchase decisions. During their research, the agency found that:

  • “91% of consumers say brand behavior is an influential factor in making purchases.
  • 74% would be interested in knowing more about the behavior of a company before buying.
  • 60% say that awareness of “a company’s ethics – environmental record, sourcing, sustainable employment policies, etc, affects their decision making”.
  • 53% say knowing that “the company donates a percentage of profits to charity and good causes” is influential when considering a purchase.
  • 64% agree that companies should adopt a role in the well-being of communities and wider society.”

The findings are pretty eye-opening and certainly give companies something to think about. The findings also send a clear message that integrity and a commitment to ethics can be a great way to market a brand and communicate to the public.

Promoting Your Brand’s Ethics

Every company has a different reason for acting ethically. In Leon Kaye’s article “A New Era of Ethical Leadership?,” for Triple Pundit, Kaye writes:
“The reasons vary: a genuine concern for people and communities, the desire to avoid additional regulations, reducing costs while increasing revenues and of course, enhanced brand value and building trust with customers and stakeholders. That trust and brand value, however, can take years or decades to build, and in an instant can be washed away.”

When was the last time your company shared a story about its  ethics with the public? As Kaye mentioned, building goodwill can take time, but everyone has to start somewhere. As a business, if your main reason for acting ethically is to protect the public, wouldn’t you want to share that message? Let people know you value them, their health, their safety and everything else. Buy most importantly, back up your words with actions. People know when a company is bluffing and they won’t be afraid to call you out on it. If a company’s commitment to ethics, sustainability, safety, the environment, etc., is a deciding factor in a purchase decision, isn’t it time you started letting people know where you stand?

Lindsey Walker can be reached at LWalker@customerexpressions.com.

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