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Ethics to come out of closet for good in 2018

Ethics to come out of closet for good in 2018

“Being good is good business.” High principles used to make a brand stand out from the crowd; in 2018 they’re a must-have.

The quote is from the late great Anita Roddick, founder of a natural cosmetics chain in the UK – The Body Shop. Back in 1984, she replaced product promotions in store windows with Save the Whale posters. It wasn’t a business decision, but it was good business. Within a decade, major companies around the world were seizing opportunities to raise their ethical profile by supporting good causes.

Fast forward 25 years, and it’s no longer enough to throw corporate weight behind a local community scheme or third-world programme, however worthy or high profile.

 

External communications

Today’s consumers and investors demand more. Much more.

They want brands to be ethical across every aspect of their business activities. From where and how they source raw materials and manufacture products, to the way they treat employees and business partners – being good has never before had so many dimensions, or meant so much to so many. Today everyone and everything is connected, so seamless external and internal communications are essential.

Trust and belief is at a premium, and brands can no longer rely on shiny advertising to gloss over their shortcomings. What a brand does on the other side of the world matters. In today’s connected world, brands cannot hope to hide unethical practices behind a façade of respectability.

Social media has given consumers the power to punish the unethical and reward the ethical. Twenty-five years ago, a dissatisfied customer might tell as many as 15 people about a bad experience. Today a trending complaint can reach 15 million or more, fatally wounding a brand in the process.

Internal communications

Unethical companies are not just punished by consumers, they also suffer at the hands of their own employees. Being ethical does not just mean championing a good cause, it means ensuring that every part of a business operates in a ‘good’ way and engaging employees behind this mission. Setting expectations about what ‘good’ looks like – for example, the company’s corporate values – is fundamental and creates a strategic space for internal communicators to step into.

Of course, before companies can reap the benefits of ‘being good’, they need employees to be aware and regularly engaged in what their organisation is doing to build ‘a good business’. In this regard, companies across Asia are defining and delivering these messages within the framework of an employee value proposition and an employer brand. This framework is a fundamental platform for engaging employees through pride and advocacy in their company.

Any cracks will be exposed, and a lack of authenticity in communications can do more harm than good. So the message to internal communicators in Asia is: Challenge your leaders if changes need to be made, then enable these changes to pay dividends by being open and transparent with your employees.

The rewards for being good are significant. Research shows that people in ethical organisations work harder and perform better than those in unethical companies. Pride and advocacy are key components of employee engagement, and it is no coincidence that high-performing companies also have strong business ethics.

Ethical standards impact recruitment as well. Millennials in particular place a high value on business ethics, which can be the decisive factor in their decision to apply for a job.

 

Ethics now a must have

Concern about business ethics is, of course, not new. Marvin Bower, who led McKinsey & Company in the 1950s and 1960s, commented: “There is no such thing as business ethics. There is only one kind – you have to adhere to the highest standards.” What’s new is the growing evidence linking high principles directly to high performance.

Cutting corners to make a quick buck will boost this year’s financials, but unethical business practices are a recipe for failure. Being unethical is not an option for companies with mid-to-long-term growth in mind.

In 2018, high principles in business are no longer a ‘nice-to-have’, they are essential for any company wanting to succeed in the consumer market, the stock market and the jobs market.

The value placed on ‘being good’ has been growing exponentially since 1984, and 2018 looks like being the year that ‘being good’ emerges fully into mainstream business strategy from its corporate social responsibility closet.

Hong Kong Leaders in Communications Live – Our Top Three Takeaways

Hong Kong Leaders in Communications Live – Our Top Three Takeaways

It was a pleasure to attend the Hong Kong Leaders in Communications Live event last week, hosted by Public Affairs Asia.  We would highly recommend this annual event in the future for those wishing to broaden their network and perspective on communications in Asia.  From the spectrum of key communications topics that were covered here are our top three takeaways for internal communications professionals.

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How to Engage Leaders in Internal Communications?

How to Engage Leaders in Internal Communications?

It was once again a huge pleasure to host senior communications and HR professionals in Hong Kong for an interactive round-table discussion with Prospect Resourcing, our third and final round-table of 2017.  Leading the discussion on “how to engage leaders in internal communications” was Founder and Chair of theblueballroom, Sheila Parry, who also shared some insights from over 25 years in the internal communications industry.

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Are you neglecting one of your most valuable brand channels

Are you neglecting one of your most valuable brand channels

How much time have you devoted to internal communications in the past year?

The impact our employees can have on the credibility of our brands and how our businesses are viewed is in a phase of significant acceleration. We have long understood the importance of how employees in customer facing roles represent our brands, but far less considered the impact and reach of what our employees have to say about our businesses.

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Internal communications in the digital age

Internal communications in the digital age

We were delighted to host our second interactive roundtable discussion with Prospect Resourcing on 28th June in Hong Kong. We were joined by thirteen senior communications and HR professionals to discuss Internal Communications in the Digital Age, and it was lovely to see a mixture of new faces and those who had attended our previous roundtable event.

[…]

Preparing leaders to communicate effectively

Preparing leaders to communicate effectively

We rounded off last week in Hong Kong with an inspirational talk from Patrick Eng of Connect Communication Ltd., hosted by the IABC and KPMG, on the topic of preparing leaders to communicate effectively. We hear time and again about the importance the leadership communications can have on employee engagement, so we were interested to be reminded and learn more from what Patrick had to say.

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