“Business ethics (also known as corporate ethics) is a form of applied ethics or professional ethics that examines ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that arise in a business environment,” says Wikipedia.1 So, what are the ethical principles and problems that can arise in a restaurant business? Let’s expand upon that point to examine how the following ethical guidelines can help a restaurant’s founder to boost sales and profit in the restaurant business.
The following four principles of ethical behavior can make a difference for any restaurant.
• Environmental responsibility: Following the eco-friendly trend that’s currently gathering momentum can help to make the world a better place and add value to the business by attracting customers who care about the environment. Using organic ingredients, supporting sustainable fishing, using recycled paper, reducing waste, and conserving energy are only some of the fastest growing trends in the restaurant business. Implementing sustainable practices can attract eco-conscious consumers who could become loyal customers and advocates.
• Fair trade: Fair trade is ethical trade that supports fair pay and working conditions for producers in developing countries. It empowers fishermen, workers, and farmers, as well as protects the environment. Certified fair trade products, most commonly cocoa, bananas, coffee, sugar, and tea, are grown and harvested in smaller quantities, which results in fresher, tastier food. Fair trade crops cannot be genetically modified and have to be raised by using sustainable methods. When consumers choose fair trade products, they not only gain access to quality products but also make a difference in the lives of people who grow food. For restaurants, offering fair trade products attracts the attention of potential customers who care about the sustainability of healthy food. Moreover, adopting such practices results in higher profits for restaurants.
• Teamwork: It doesn’t matter whether you serve the best food in town or have a great location; customers won’t return if your staff is incompetent and unfriendly. To build a strong, dedicated, happy team, a restaurant owner must show respect, loyalty, and compassion to his or her employees and value them highly. According to the Small Business magazine, “An ethical business demonstrates respect for its employees by valuing opinions and treating each employee as an equal. Employees who work for a loyal employer want to maintain the relationship and will work harder toward that end.”2
• Ethical relationships with customers: According to Jana Matthews, Founder and CEO of Boulder Quantum Ventures, “A focus on your customers reinforces the responsibility you have to the market. Your decisions affect your people, your investors, your partners and ultimately, your customers. Serving all of these people is part of your ethical responsibility. Selling your customers short not only risks compromising your ethics, it also risks the long-term health of your company.”3
For restaurants, being ethical means being transparent, consistent, and committed. Ethical behavior can benefit businesses by cultivating productivity, fostering strong teamwork and a positive atmosphere within the team, and making employees want to stay with the company, that can reduce labor turnover and increase productivity. Being ethical can also generate desirable publicity and favorable reputations for businesses. Managing ethics in a business can also keep share prices high, which can attract investors and protect the company from takeover.
Implementing ethics in the workplace in a daily practice will create a culture of respect, high ethical standards, and dignity in your restaurant.
1. Wikipedia: Business Ethics
2. Small Business: Six Characteristics of an Ethical Business by Cindy Phillips
3. Eight Elements of an Ethical Organization by Jana Matthews, 2002