|Can SMEs afford to be ethical?|
By Cynthia Schoeman, managing director of Ethics Monitoring & Management Services
The value of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is widely recognised in terms of the contribution this sector makes to the economy and job creation. It is thus pertinent to ask how ethics fares for SMEs and whether ethics is less relevant for small scale operations.
An argument against following an ethical approach is that SMEs cannot afford the cost and time that this incurs. However this view mostly equates ethics solely with compliance. Legal and regulatory compliance can be burdensome and both the time and cost warrant being minimised. But that should not be confused with running a business ethically, which entails actions and choices that reflect honesty, responsibility, accountability, fairness and respect. Instead, SMEs should view ethics as a strategic advantage that differentiates them from their competitors.