Ethics in business has always been a rather complex and difficult topic to properly address.
We seem, thankfully, to have evolved a long way clear of the ‘greed is good’ period of the 1980s, and the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility has taken hold over the last decade in a way that couldn’t really have been imagined back in Gordon Gekko’s salad days.
Nevertheless, we still seem to be a little behind where we could be, with the issue of late payment being an example of where corporate practices, although better than they were, still have room for improvement.
Over the last few months, the Journal has given over many pages to the Pay Fair campaign that it is running in association with the FSB in the North East and the the North East Institute of Business Ethics, and we’ve heard from many high profile regional business figures on the ways in which our companies should be behaving in this respect.
As the economic recovery continues, we’ve noticed, as you might expect, that different businesses, sectors or areas are recovering faster than others – it would be nice if the recovery as evenly distributed, but that was never likely to happen.
During the recession, we were ‘all in it together’ and it was clear how reliant we were on each other to get through it. We took business decisions with great care – ‘keep calm etc etc ’ was everywhere and businesses emerged based on community focus and shared resources.
Now that confidence has ebbed its way back in and a degree of recovery has bedded itself in, it’s important that we don’t revert to the insular, often selfish practices of high unsustainable growth.
We have, sadly, started to see some evidence of the re-emergence of larger businesses dictating terms to smaller businesses and holding up payment simply because they have some sort of flimsy excuse.
In reality, technology today means that there’s simply no reason why any organisation can’t pay its suppliers quickly and without fuss, and making prompt supplier payments should be part of the standard procedures to which all companies adhere.
Cash very much remains king in the commercial world, and delays in receiving revenues earned and due can really put the brakes on companies’ development.
Smaller businesses that supply larger ones need to be treated fairly. To grow sustainably, we need people and suppliers that want to grow with you, and that means staying close to each other’s needs and finding long-term solutions. The quickest, easiest, selfish solution might not be the best way for us all to move forward to a comprehensive and sustained recovery.