When Miller Electric was first founded as a small family-owned business in 1912, the company’s code of ethics was based on Henry W. Miller’s personal morals and values, and was passed down through generations.
As Miller Electric grew, these ethical values were implemented into a Code of Conduct and later our mission and vision statement. Today, they act as our compass to guide employees’ actions when dealing with customers and each other. We also use these moral guidelines when hiring, promoting and disciplining employees.
When your business is based on building relationships from ethical behavior and trust, it may only take one bad incident to spoil what you worked so hard to achieve. That’s why it’s so important to have a formal business ethics program at your company. We learned about this firsthand in a six-month workshop series hosted by the Business Ethics Alliance. Ray Bruegman, Jason Tagge, and Scott Love from the Miller Electric team attended the course, and boy, did we learn a lot.
Not only were we impressed by the knowledgeable moderators, including professors and executives from Creighton University, Mutual of Omaha, and Blue Cross Blue Shield, we found it great that there was such a diverse range of organizations in attendance with us. Over the course of the series, we worked toward revising our formal Code of Conduct in place at our company. Taking the knowledge we gained from the series, along with our strong, historical moral values, we developed a formal Ethics Program. We plan to put this documentation not only in front of our field team but our customers as well.
The Business Ethics course made us realize that a company of our size could do more to solidify upper-level management accountability as an important function of a company’s Code of Conduct. The individuals that make up Miller Electric—our board of directors, project managers, office management, etc.—are required to exhibit honesty, transparency and integrity in their daily roles. Not only do these actions set the company’s ethical tone for all employees, it also keeps individual owners and managers accountable for their actions. As we learned in the workshops, having such a program helps ensure:
• Customer trust
• A strong reputation
• Prevention of lawsuits
• Employee retention
What are your thoughts on business ethics? Any ideas or experiences you’d like to share? Leave a comment below, and let’s get the conversation started.