Business development · 4 January 2016

Britain’s small firms advised to develop ethics policies to aid growth

Over half the UK’s small firms have experienced bad ethical practice in business
Good ethical business practice is increasingly the concern of the UK’s micro and small business owners, with over half the nation’s small firms claiming to have been on the receiving end of unethical practices, and a similar proportion having been questioned over the ethics of supply chains.

Research revealed this week by banking group Close Brothers demonstrated that 56 per cent of small firms have experienced such practices, whilst 52 per cent have been quizzed on suppliers. Close to one in ten small businesses claimed to have experienced unethical practices a lot, whilst 27 per cent claim that it happens on occasion.

However, the research has also found that many small business owners don’t see the need to develop an ethics policy, with 41 per cent claiming such a policy to be unnecessary.

With high growth expected for the UK’s small business sector in 2016, Close Brothers Asset Finance CEO Mike Randall said that ethical behaviour will play an increasing role in how businesses are perceived, both internally and externally.

A business’s ethics policy acts to advise employees how best to interact with customers, suppliers and other business partners, as well as one another.

Despite being as important to smaller firms as they are to larger companies, 37 per cent of respondent business owners to the Close Brothers survey claimed to be in charge of firms that were too small to need ethical guidelines, with 12 per cent stating that concerns surrounding ethical best practice was the domain of larger businesses.

Randall added: Even though many smaller organisations have an informal understanding about how business is done, there are clear advantages to having a formal code in place not least because they will inform business practice and greatly enhance the organisation’s reputation.



Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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