Every action tells your story. Business practices that are trusting, trustworthy, and cooperative, not opportunistic, communicate the integrity and trustworthiness of your business. It is increasingly important for companies to deal with ethics as a corporate strategy that, when uniquely implemented, achieves competitive advantage.

These days, every business should have a written code of ethics. The code of ethics you create communicates the company’s philosophy to employees, vendors, customers, clients and the public. Because of the huge focus on ethics in business many consumers now actively seek out organizations that promise to do business in an honest and ethical manner. As a business owner, writing a code of ethics is one of your most crucial jobs.

Ethical standards flow through the entire structure of a business organization, shaping how it plans its strategy, deals with customers, and manages its workforce. The standards have a reach far beyond day-to-day operations, and should be considered in all aspects of a business and across all functional areas (boardroom to warehouse). Supporting this effort, businesses that genuinely understand the value and importance of ethics have appropriate metrics in place to measure achievement and identify problems before they become major issues.

Given the profound connection between a company’s ethical culture and employee engagement, management should work actively to demonstrate a commitment to ethics, foster open communication, promote ethical role modeling, and encourage accountability.