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(The following article is excerpted from a presentation from the annual ethics program PRSA’s Akron, Ohio, Chapter held last fall.)
Especially in times of economic turbulence, the necessity of strong ethics — and the transparency to guarantee their maintained integrity — is an essential component of a healthy business. Cutting corners and costs cannot come at the expense of an organization’s principles without risking the veracity and reputation of the organization, the CEO — and yourself. For PR professionals, it is good to remind ourselves that we can’t manage an organization’s reputation without also managing our own individual reputation.
Like communication, values and ethics saturate all parts of an organization. And just as communication is a cornerstone of business success, it is also the foundation of creating the right kind of culture, one that goes beyond minimal legal standards to encourage integrity.
Think about any organization and its issues — including important considerations such as reputation, crisis prevention, disclosure, employee stability, morale, brand building and many others. These issues are impacted by an organization’s values and ethics, and they all tie in to matters of communication and relationship building. Isn’t that what we do?
It is not enough, however, to talk about these issues. We have a responsibility to take action to promote and integrate these values. The new year offers a fresh start, giving us the opportunity to emphasize the importance of promoting heightened ethical standards to which we hold ourselves and our organizations.