Ethical Practices Need to be Reinforced by Leaders,
With Enron’s shenanigans and other forms of business malpractice
dominating the headlines, it’s probably as good a time as any for
the owners of kitchen and bath firms to keep business ethics top of
Here’s a story some kitchen/bath dealers might relate to:
Some years ago, a contributing editor of Kitchen & Bath Design
News was asked by a friend to recommend a local company to remodel
a kitchen. The editor named several firms in the friend’s area.
Not long afterwards, the editor received an angry call from his
friend. “I called one of those companies and they said they offered
a free estimate,” the friend roared. “I asked them to provide it
and they sent out some guy who paid no attention to what I said,
didn’t measure anything, demanded to get paid for the ‘free’
estimate and then asked to borrow money from me.”
The editor called the kitchen retailer himself and relayed the
story. “The homeowners didn’t lend him any, did they?” asked the
retailer. “He’s done that before.”
Unbelieveable, but true.
A survey by the American Society of Chartered Life Underwriters
& Chartered Financial Consultants recently revealed some
alarming news about our country’s business ethics. An astonishing
48% of American workers admit to taking unethical or illegal
actions in the past 12 months. Those range from cheating on an
expense account and discriminating against their fellow workers all
the way to trading sex for sales and paying or accepting
Also alarming is that the survey reveals the situation is
getting worse. Fifty-seven percent of those polled say they feel
more pressure to be unethical now than they did five years ago, and
40% say it’s gotten worse over the last year.
What’s especially sobering is that workers were asked only to
discuss ethical violations due to work “pressure,” from factors
such as long hours, sales quotas, job insecurity, and personal
debt. It did not address motives such as greed, revenge or
substance abuse problems.
The most common ethical violation, according to experts in the
field, is cutting corners on quality control. Nearly one in ten
workers surveyed say they lied to customers, and one in 20 say they
lied to supervisors. One out of every 40 admit they had an affair
with a business associate or customer.
The best ways to curb ethical violations is to control the
ethical atmosphere at your business, according to management
experts. Do you stress winning at any cost? Guess what that cost
is. Do you demand results and take no excuses? You are practically
guaranteeing ethics are going to be bent somewhere along the
Furthermore, you cannot expect employees to be honest if you’re
not honest and open yourself. Do you cheat customers and suppliers?
Then don’t be surprised that your employees feel it’s acceptable to
cheat, as well.
Even workers agree. Seventy-three percent of those polled say
that better communications and more open dialogue are the best way
to curb ethical violations. Seventy-one percent say a serious
commitment to address the issue will help.
Resist the temptation to let ethics slide. A good reputation,
once lost, can never be recovered, and a bad reputation does