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How do you gauge the ethics of a company?

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ShaRon’s Answer

I love this question!

My first suggestion would be to look at the companies annual report. This is a great source of information as to what their performance has been financially and socially!

Next I would go to their website and check to see if they have a Code of Ethics listed. This will tell you about their commitment to both the people they employ, the communities they operate in and the environment. It is the blueprint for how they govern themselves and can be very telling.

Finally, I would do an internet search and see what kinds of things come up in the press about the company. Look for employee forums that voice the experiences of current and former personnel.

Collectively these should give you great information on what they company says they stand for and what they actually do! If you are really interested in this topic, be prepared to spend some time doing research. Good Luck
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david’s Answer

You can never be sure of the ethics of any company, or of any person. All you have is your experience with the company/person. Companies, specifically, are in business for profit. If they have a flawed product, when do they issue a recall? Immediately? Or after they see how many complaints or problems occur? We will not know. It is not uncommon to retain a relationship with a company (or a person) for decades, only to later discover that you have been lied to repeatedly or that the products had been made of inferior quality. Trust is all you have, so you need to be ever alert to consistency in how you are treated/served. For example, there have been several bank failures recently, all coming as a surprise, only to discover that financial decisions were being made that were not considered prudent or in the best interest of customers. Stay alert.
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Christopher’s Answer

Ask questions pertaining to the company's ethics. Also, research will help. Look into the decisions a company has made, especially when it comes to its employees and how the company is perceived by the public. Companies with ethical leaders are usually out front with pride about its company's ethics and how the feral public perceives them. Lastly, ask elders or people who have been around for a while at a company and ask them how they have felt working there or representing the company.
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Zoe’s Answer

I think a lot of people here have given great advice! I might be reiterating some of what has been said above, but I'll try to not:
- mission statements can be a great and easy way to first gauge what a company finds valuable
- if the company is publicly traded, realize they are beholden to their investors as well. This can be helpful because they are actually forced to be fairly transparent with their information. If they are private, it helps to know who the owners are and if your values resonate with theirs.
- If the company is partnered with any third party organizations that are working towards a more "ethical" environment (I put ethics in quotes there because what you find ethical might not be what someone else does - so that is important to understand). Some mentioned above were B Corporation, Fair Trade. Some others are also the Carbon Disclosure Project or ISO 140001/ISCC (both are governing bodies that regulate supply chains).
- their annual report: this will largely cover their sustainability goals. These are really crucial to read and understand because some are more in depth and more tied to the companies values than others. Key things to look for here are 1) partnerships with third parties (for example, science-based targets), metrics to measure their impact, community focused empowerment, goals that can be measured, SDGs
- their employee code of conduct
- their pay scale and benefits package
- their core values - all companies have these, but some are more meaningful than others
- talking to current employees (linkedIn is a great tool for this, as is the interview). Employee retention is also helpful here.
- the interview process - you'll get a feeling for the personality of the organization through the interview.
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Bill’s Answer

Ethical Standards
Employees are expected to be honest when dealing with customers, and trustworthy when responsible for protecting company resources. Employees are responsible for reporting any illegal activity taking place on company property. When dealing with customers, employees are expected to conduct themselves with integrity. Employees working in positions of public trust are expected to avoid situations that would give the impression of a conflict of interest.

Employee Actions
Employee acceptance of responsibility for ethical conduct begins with the willingness to attend ethics training. Employees attending training sessions express their agreement to abide by ethical standards by signing a code of conduct. Employees who avoid ethics training might not be prepared to display the expected behavior toward customers and co-workers. Employee actions that cause customers to register complaints are an indication that an employee is not in compliance with expected standards of ethical conduct.

Results
The best way to measure the effectiveness of a company's ethical standards is to observe the results of employee actions. When the company is able to establish and maintain a loyal and satisfied customer base, management has a sure indicator that employees are treating customers ethically. When employees protect the integrity of company property, management has a positive measure of ethical conduct. Negative actions by employees indicate that ethical standards are not being complied with.

Tailoring Measurement
Retail companies might measure the effectiveness of ethics training and compliance through the results of customer surveys. Manufacturing firms might measure the effectiveness of ethics training by resource loss rates or by productivity rates for each department. Governmental organizations might measure ethics compliance on an evaluation of how well employees respond to external customers, or meeting the needs of clients.
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Chirayu’s Answer

Gauging the ethics of a company can be a complex process that requires a thorough examination of the company's practices, policies, and values. Here are some ways to gauge the ethics of a company - Look for information about the company's history, reputation, and track record. You can look at news articles, reports, and reviews from various sources to get a comprehensive understanding of the company. Many companies have a code of ethics that outlines their values, policies, and standards of conduct. Reviewing this document can give you insight into how seriously the company takes ethical behavior. The behavior of the company's leadership can be a good indicator of the company's overall ethics. Look for leaders who are transparent, accountable, and committed to ethical practices. Companies that are committed to social and environmental responsibility are more likely to prioritize ethical behavior. Look for companies that have initiatives to reduce their environmental impact, support their local communities, and promote diversity and inclusion. Some organizations provide certifications for ethical business practices, such as the B Corporation certification or the Fair Trade certification. Checking if a company has any of these certifications can be a good indicator of their commitment to ethical practices.
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Richard J (Rich)’s Answer

One of the other ways to gauge the ethics of a company is how they treat their employees and the things they ask their employees to do. If you feel like, or have proof of, a company employee or a company culture where they skirt the law or do things that seem "not properly done." - then the ethics of a company could be in question.

Typically it is an individual and not the company as a whole. If that is the case - then you should be able to report them to the ethics department within your company. That can usually be anonymous if you so choose. If your company does not have an ethics department - I would go to the manager up the chain you feel comfortable reporting to.

Usually you can tell right away if the company culture or individuals are not acting in an appropriate way that would put ethics in question.

I hope that helps
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Adrian’s Answer

Reading a company's policy on what they value will ultimately answer your question about their ethics. Ethics is a complicated topic because of the different aspects and points of view persons have.
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Elaine’s Answer

Reviewing ethics and beliefs of a company is important. There are a few various places to begin your review.

1. Start with their website. Look for information on the following areas: mission statement, sustainability reports and or goals, community engagement, code of ethics, etc.

2. Search the company name online to see if there are any articles or postings about issues in the past, and quickly go through to weed out potential red flags. Search key words such as: law suits, public opinion, ethics.

3. Look at the rating of the company by their employees and or customers, to see what level they were voted at. Although this doesn't not always directly apply to ethics category measurement, it will give you an indication if others are satisfied with the company overall.

4. Remember ethics can also be swayed by personal opinion and beliefs. Keep an open mind when doing your research.
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William’s Answer

Gauge the ethics of a company through there culture and practices as could be found in there corporate profiles, and corporate documentation.
Ethics is mostly universal, and will that a professional mindset to know.
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