We live and work in an age where the freedoms you may have once had in building your business have become increasingly tied to regulations and legislation and they permeate every discipline. Most are robust and are designed to leave no room for manoeuvre, whilst others may allow a difference of interpretation that doesn’t immediately lead to a financial penalty. Either the difficulty you have is that the policies you produce on the back of these should be clear and unambiguous and act to position the relationships with your stakeholders, be they customers or employees. Yet despite this (obvious) understanding, mistakes seem to be made from the very largest of organisations to the very smallest.
A few months ago, the NFL (National Football League) came out with a policy intended to draw a line over the long-running saga of players refusing to stand for the American national anthem, because they believed the flag of the United States no longer stood for what they understood America represented (Read SB Nation ‘The NFL’s national anthem policy is terrible for everyone, including itself’. Harry Lyles Jr 24/05/18 https://www.sbnation.com/2018/5/23/17384746/nfl-anthem-protest-policy-rules).
For any policy to be worth the paper it’s written on, it requires a deep and meaningful understanding of what lies behind it.
In a commercial sense those who accept the need for change are typically the progressive organisations who take their level of responsibility seriously, whilst their actions may also act to ‘squeeze’ those that are not. However, it can often take many years before these firms really begin to feel that ‘squeeze’ and disappear from the marketspace, leaving the remainder of compliant firms to benefit.
During this period where non-compliant companies continue to ‘function under the radar’, I’m concerned how much easier things could become for them if they acted ethically. Is it a lack of available budget that has brought them to this position (a subject for another article, I suspect), or just a lack of professionalism and a general dislike for perceived ‘red-tape’ and bureaucracy that eventually wins the day? Either way, what we see is that these firms fail to introduce meaningful practices and policies because they simply don’t take the time or initiative to understand these regulations or what lies behind them.
Consequently, they will do as one such firm asked of me recently, “Can you just compile me a Policy that shows I can be trusted”. But when I suggested that this would entail a visit to this director’s premises to establish his way of working and to audit and prepare the ground for the proposed policy, that was rebuffed with, “I just need you to compile a policy that shows I’m following the regulations”. “Really?”, I asked, “without any truth or substance in this business-critical document”? If you haven’t guessed already, I declined this work on principle. Business freedoms and the spontaneity associated with them are being eroded, and quite rightly too when you hear cases like these.
I remember once being asked when I was amongst a group of student marketers about how many would ‘sell their soul to make a dime’ and the audience poll that was taken, was, publicly at least, largely ethical. But when the customers of these less than compliant firms don’t have the time themselves to read the ‘small print’ or, can’t be expected to know everything there is to know about the law, then small steps such as turning work away are essential in gradually building a better supplier pool…assuming of course ‘being ethical’ wins the day.
I welcome your comments whether you agree or not, so please feel free to get in touch by sending an email to me, Nigel Davis.