Can corporate ethics become a competitive advantage?Muhammad Shahid
Consider these situations that one often comes across working in a developing market like Pakistan, where there is a history of corruption and in various quarters a general disregard for ethics:
- Cash coupons offered as incentives to electricians or painters inside product packs. Manufacturers conceal the information by not printing it on the packaging – providing instant cash incentives to electricians, painters or other influencers who then recommend their products to homeowners. Should you incentivize them without declaring it to the general-public?
- A potential customer demanding a commission in kind or a holiday trip for the family for specifying or purchasing your Company’s product for the multi-million rupee project deal that would contribute significantly to your quarterly sales targets. What would you do?
- Law enforcement agencies demanding grease payments for transactional costs to uphold and enforce the law. Should you comply?
- Harassment by institutions in the form of notices, demands and so on, only to be offered the option for them to be waived if you are willing to give a hand out. What stance would you take?
Practically all companies face and cope with similar situations – despite having a stack of well documented code of ethics, policies, and guidelines.
As an organization, Pakistan Cables has always taken a very firm stance on ethics. Compromising on ethics would bar the organization from developing credibility as a good corporate citizen and most importantly, it would impact our reputation.
Trust is amongst the most valuable assets an organization can possess. When organizations compromise on fundamental moral values, the brand’s value declines – respect and credibility deteriorates over time. It’s not a level playing field either as one has to compete with others who aren’t playing by the rules.
The concept of ethics in the business world has many implications, mostly focused based on human behavior in terms of what is acceptable and unacceptable to others. All religions in the world unanimously stress on adhering to a code of ethics and choosing right over wrong. Business ethics are quite similar – they set out principles and moral values that serve as a compass in organizations. And as contemporary organizations become more and more goal focused, sometimes winning becomes everything. That’s when ethics in business are compromised. And if such behaviors become a permanent practice the lines between right vs. wrong get blurred and organizations get trapped into a vicious circle of malpractices. In the process, they corrupt an entire food chain starting from their employees, suppliers, customers and communities. Anyone with moral values pays the price by either walking out of an organization or not doing business with them.
I have always believed like any sport, learning and respecting the rules of a game are extremely important. A true winner is one who plays by the rules – transparently, upholding their values and putting in the hard work.
Pakistan Cables is the first and only wire and cable manufacturer company in Pakistan which is listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange. The company was established on the ethos of ethics and transparency, which was ingrained from the very beginning based on the fundamentals adhered to by the founders. Our philosophy has always been driven by ethics as the primary cornerstone, with a firm belief that such an approach is a pillar on which a sustainable company can be built upon.
The fact that Pakistan Cables is considered the most trusted company in the category in Pakistan speaks volumes of our commitment to this approach and the reality is that our commitment to operating with integrity has helped us convert our values into a competitive advantage.
My late grandfather, Mr. Amir Chinoy, Founder Chairman and my father, Mr. Kamal Chinoy, former CEO Pakistan Cables, both have a legacy of being staunch advocates of ethics and not compromising on values. Being ethical is a leadership choice after all. We would never bend the rules for short-term gain – it is simply a no-go for everyone within the organization. Hence, it is no such coincidence that the brand’s slogan is “TRUSTED NOT TO COMPROMISE”.