Quakers and Business Group
Promoting Quaker values in Business and the Workplace

Unethical Business Practices

Many people in business have at one time or another been confronted with unethical business practices. These practices have helped to give business a bad reputation. How we respond to these situations can involve having to make difficult decisions, even to the point of blowing the whistle and bringing the matter to the attention of an outside body.

30. Gambling and speculation

Advice

In gambling we gain by the outcome of some chance event and from the losses of other people. When we invest in exceptionally risky ventures with the hope of a large return in the future, we are speculating.

Unjustified confidence and optimism or an addiction to the excitement of uncertainty can lead to disaster. In a working environment this might put your employees’ livelihood at stake.

Queries

Do you invest or use company funds for speculation or gambling?

Do you entertain business colleagues at casinos or other venues where gambling takes place?

31. Corrupt practices

Advice

Bribes, back-handers and other practices which we would consider corrupt are commonly accepted in some industries and cultures. Make sure that your employees know that these kinds of practices are not acceptable.

Queries

Do you have a clear written policy on business conduct which all employees sign?

Do you avoid all forms of bribery and corruption, both within your own business and in your dealings with business partners?

When you work in cultures where bribery and corruption are part of the way of life, do you try to find ways of doing business that more closely express your own ethical standards?

Do you discourage and work against sharp practice in all your workplaces? Do you speak out against the corrupt practices you discover?

32. Whistle blowing

Advice

Before blowing the whistle on an organisation, or on a particular business practice, consider carefully the consequences of your actions. Your role is to be a witness to the truth. Be sure that you understand the reasons for the practice and that your evidence is clear, complete and unambiguous. Make sure that your own motives will withstand public scrutiny . Act promptly as soon as you are sure of what you intend to do. Where possible, seek advice and guidance from others. Work through an agency to remove undue emotions and personalities from the situation allowing truth and facts to prevail.

Queries

Is the action you contemplate likely to lead to a change for the better? If not, what is your motivation? Is there a better, less confrontational, way of dealing with the situation? Do you realise that your action might cost you your job and that will affect your personal life and your career? Have you sought independent, wise counsel before proceeding?

Is your company’s culture one where your staff and colleagues have the confidence to deal with corruption? Do you have procedures in place so that your employees can, if necessary, blow the whistle without being penalised?