“Trust and reputation are built over many years and take but an instant to be destroyed” (Trevino & Nelson, 2011, p. xiii). The link between business ethics and an organization’s reputation are critical. Doing the right thing for the right reason helps to enhance an organization’s reputation while building their ethical capital.
As ethical debacles regularly occur, it is clear that business ethics are not a fad (Trevino & Nelson, 2011).
In this paper I will show how interconnected, or linked business ethics and organizational reputation are. I will use two examples and compare the police actions and loss of reputation during the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto and the success of a positive reputation building exercise used by Maple Leaf Foods during the listeria contamination that occurred in Ontario in 2008. Maple Leaf Food’s Code of Business Conduct (Appendix A) talks about management’s commitment to ensuring Maple Leaf and its employees demonstrate the highest standards of ethics and integrity in all business activities (Henry, 2013). The numerous reports and studies that have been undertaken since the listeria outbreak demonstrate how Maple Leaf’s response was able to build the organizations reputation and bounce back from a near catastrophic event that could have killed the company.
“A reputation for ethics which is beyond reproach is a silent partner in all business negotiations” (Trevino & Nelson, 2011, p. 24). These negotiations are with all stakeholders in business and include consumers, suppliers, government regulators and employees, if corporations and public servants do not manage their image and reputation through exemplary ethical practices the consequences can be devastating.
While I examine the need for a strong organizational reputation, it is important to consider the virtue ethics approach along with the need to ensure those working in a professional community who aspire to be leaders in ethical behavior not only have strong ethical standards, policy and training, but demonstrate those ethical behaviors publicly ensuring their reputation is unblemished (Trevino & Nelson, 2011, p. 47). An example of this is the G20 Summit held in Toronto in 2010. Although the Toronto Police has a value statement and policy (Appendix B) for members to wear name tags while on duty, during the G20 a number of officers did not wear their name tags or had removed them (McNeily, 2012), this in direct conflict with organizational policy. During the investigation and review of the G20 Summit it was identified that a number of officers working with the ones who had removed their name tags were “unable” to identify their colleagues.
Police officers do take an oath and are provided with ethics training but these actions based on a unique police culture fly in the face of the eight principles identified in the “Hippocratic Oath for Managers” (Trevino & Nelson, 2011, p. 48), while in service to the public they blatantly disregarded the rules and legal...