Ethics in Business Communication in Banking Industry

An Expert's View about Business Management, Management Consultancy in India

Posted on: 5 Sep 2010

The paper deals with the importance of ethics in service industries like Banking. The focus is on ethics in the process of communication with customers.

A STUDY OF ETHICS IN BUSINESS COMMUNICATION IN THE SERVICE INDUSTRY WITH EMPHASIS ON BANKING INDUSTRY1 ABSTRACT Is there any real distinction between ?morality? and ?ethics?? Is ethics concerned primarily with what is or what ought to be? What is the source of the sense of right and wrong? For moral beliefs, can one distinguish between the source and the justification, or are the two the same? What are the justifications for, and implications of, claiming that there are universal standards for morality, or that there are societal standards of morality, or that there are only individual standards of morality? Are the three positions mutually exclusive? If moral claims are in conflict, does it follow that there is no such justifiable concept as right or wrong? These are some of the questions which have been raised in the project. The concept of ?Ethics? in business parlance might be Greek to many, but nonetheless it is very important for any business to survive in this competitive market. Only thinking about making profits might have been permissible in the age of monopoly. But in the present world of liberalization, globalization and competition such a mindset on the part of any organization is a sure-shot way of winding up. After all, a business does not exist in the society for the benefit of the owner alone. If that was the case, the society would not have allowed it to exist. A business uses the society?s resources for its survival and growth in the form of manpower, raw materials, electricity, etc. Therefore, it has a moral duty to treat the society in an ethically correct manner. Only then can it expect to survive in the market for a longer period. 1 Tarumoy Chaudhuri, Student pursuing B.B.A. L.L.B. (Hons.) at National Law University (Jodhpur). INTRODUCTION ?To avoid any evil, to seek the good, to keep the mind pure: this is the essence of the Buddha?s teaching.? Buddha, The Way of Practice Ethics involves a discussion of the way we ought to live our lives, the distinctions between right and wrong, the justification of moral judgments, and the implications of moral actions for the individual and the group. Ethics is a set of customs and moral values of a person or group. It may be distinct for different professions and is called professional ethics. All professions like the medical, technological, legal, and management professions have their own rules of conduct which are expected to be followed by every member of the particular profession. Many people are of the opinion that there is no place for ethics in business as business is all about earning profits by fooling the public as best as one can. But such a pessimistic view is detrimental to the life of the society as a whole. In today?s cut-throat competitive world, none of the business can succeed in the long run by fooling its customers. Nowadays, people are much more aware of their rights and they know the authorities whom they should approach if they feel cheated. No company can take the risk of tainting its image by trying to make quick money in the short run. This being the situation, the companies have no other way but to make better products than their competitors. But this alone is not enough. They also need to undertake various methods of sales promotion like advertising properly for their product. Otherwise the best products can die a quick death. Now, in the process of such promotional tactics the marketing personnel resort to white lies which are unethical. The fact remains that such unethical behavior generally goes unnoticed in the case of businesses whereas they are unpardonable in the other professions. For example, a an employee working for a telecom service provider may get away by telling that they have 10 service centre, on the average, in all the districts of Rajasthan. But if a patient comes to know later that his doctor had lied to him about the necessity of the pacemaker installed in his body, the defaulting doctor would have a tough time dodging the law and saving his license. The same holds true for other professions as well. The primary reason for such a distinction is that there is no controlling and regulatory authority for businesses. Only at the time of getting the license the companies are required to undergo a few basic checks. After that there is no looking back as there is no authority to regulate the day-to-day running of businesses. Their licenses are also generally not cancelled except in a few extreme cases. All these and many other factors lead to unethical conduct on the part of the workers of various business organizations such as concealment of important facts. The situation has become so much aggravated that people are always on the lookout of some or the other ?catch? in any offer or promotional scheme. They are required to read between the lines of every contract to ensure that they do not have to end up paying more than they had anticipated. Business ethics examines ethical rules and principles within a commercial context, the various moral or ethical problems that can arise in a business setting and any special duties or obligations that apply to persons who are engaged in commerce. The ethics of a profession are generally taught to the professionals in the course of their learning. Besides, some companies also include ethics as a part of their training program for professionals as well as amateurs. So it can be assumed that the professional workers of an organization are at least aware of their ethical obligations. The other workers who are not professionals may not even be aware of their ethical obligations. But this does not imply that the professionals never resort to unethical conduct. In this project, an effort will be made to evaluate the level of conformity to the prescribed ethics on the part of the employees. The focus will be on ethics in the process of communication. For this purpose, the service industry has been short listed as the application of ethics in business communication is more prominent here. The banking industry has been covered as a part of the service industry in the field work. The main objective of the project is to understand the level of ethical conduct in the service industry on the basis of the banking industry. The research methodology is inductive as a general conclusion has been drawn by analyzing a sample of the whole service industry. BUSINESS ETHICS Business ethics is a form of art which examines ethical rules and principles, the various moral and ethical concerns that arise in a business environment and any special duties or obligations that apply to persons who are engaged in the running of the enterprise. Historically, interest in business ethics accelerated dramatically during the 1980s and 1990s due to continuous scandals and scams. Professional ethics covers the innumerable practical ethical problems and phenomena which arise out of specific functional areas of companies or in relation to recognized business professions. Insider trading is today?s one of most common ethical concerns relating to the top level executives in an organization as also the financial market. Purpose, People, Planet and Probity The above four words are regarded as the four cornerstones of sustainable business venture in any modern business entity. The purpose of an organization ought to be within ethical boundaries. It is the character of an ethical organization, an ethical manager. The aim of all good modern organizations is to merge the organizational purpose with the needs and feelings of people (staff, customers, suppliers, local communities, stakeholders, etc) with proper consideration for the planet (in terms of sustainability, environment, natural resources, heritage, cultures and societies, etc) and at all times acting with probity ? encompassing integrity, compassion, truth. Traditional inward-looking management and leadership skills (which historically considered only the purpose - typically profit - and the methods for achieving it) are no longer sufficient for sustainable organizational success. Organizations have a far wider agenda today. Ethical concerns are growing day-by-day and ethics management is becoming a pre-requisite. Different people relate to ideas about how to run organizations in different ways and have different views about what organizational ethics are. For example, many entrepreneurs prefer and do think logically and critically and make decisions towards the achievement of the organization?s purpose ? profit. In this regard, they tend to overlook the aspect of ethics. Also, there are other managers or entrepreneurs who set out the organization?s ethical rules and regulations, but cross the line when it comes to them as they see a lot more profit when they flout all norms. It is when the manager gives less or no credit to purpose, people, planet and probity that ethical issues step up and any wrongdoing on part of the manager relating to the above four aspects may land him and the organization in dire circumstances. Hence, transparency, truth and public demand are the drivers for real ethical accountability. As already said, Business ethics is a form of the art of applied ethics that examines ethical rules and principles within a commercial context, the various moral or ethical problems that can arise in a business setting, and any special duties or obligations that apply to persons who are engaged in commerce. Business ethics play a huge role in the running of an organization and such ethics are to be followed without compromise. Ethics come into play here because when the party which is unmindful of the situation and who believes in the falsely represented facts, will suffer huge losses for no fault of his. What Is Ethics? First, what is business ethics and what does it mean to be ethical? Present and future managers need a clear, working definition of the words ethics and ethical. Acceptable definitions must include the following: Ethics is concerned with moral obligation, character, responsibility; social justice; the good life. Hence to be ethical means to pursue right conduct, to fulfill one's moral obligations and responsibilities, to seek social justice and the good life. But there is an immediate and rather obvious difficulty here. What is meant by the words right, moral, just, good? Have they some objective, clearly definable meaning to which we all may subscribe? What seems right to one person often seems wrong to another. What the government decrees as just often strikes a particular citizen as unjust. For example, what is the just price of a given product or commodity? Is it right for the government to make laws regulating business? Is it good or bad for labor to strike against management? An answer to this question will be suggested when considering the next question. Why be Ethical? Second, why be ethical (i.e., right, moral, just, good)? It obviously, so we assume, is better to be right than wrong, moral than immoral, just than unjust, good than bad. In reality this is not a very satisfactory answer. It fails to explain why we think it is better to be so. For example: why is it wrong to steal? Is it always wrong to steal? Is it ever right to steal? (Consider the case of Robin Hood.) Most would agree that stealing is a form of unethical conduct. But why do we so agree? Is it because we have looked into the question and found it to be so, or because our personal experience tells us that it is so? The answer, quite clearly, is: in all probability not. Rather, we hold it wrong to steal because we have been told that it is wrong. That is to say, we hold stealing to be wrong on some authority other than our own (e.g., God, the state, our elders). It is a part of our social education, accepted by most of us without question much in the way that we accept without question that we know what is meant by the words stealing and wrong. We do not even stop to consider that the word stealing is not value-free. In the context of business, too, it can be seen that organizations need to follow ethics for their own survival in the long term and not only for the benefit of their customers. It is in the company?s best interests. This company has to realize that it exists in the context of other individual entities like the customers, shareholders, the government and even other competitors who collectively make up the society around it. How Can One Be Ethical? We thus come to the third question: "How can one be ethical?" A decision that it is in one's best self-interest to be ethical requires an answer to the question. How is one to know precisely what is is in one's best self-interest? Current research and publications on business ethics (as well as on ethics in general) attempt to answer this question by presenting a variety of ethical systems from which to choose. Ethical theory discussions present a diversity of ethical options. They do not, however, present an organic base for studying and understanding business ethics. The above discussion holds that a study of Western Civilization provides the framework for both discussing and seeking answers to ethical queries. Via a study of history a more focused position can be found for understanding the ethical orientations of business ethics. There is no fixed benchmark or rule which companies should follow in order to be qualified as the ?ethically conscious company.? But there is, of course a general consensus on what qualifies as ethical behavior on the part of the firm. The basis of such a consensus is that any conduct which helps in the betterment of the society as a whole and is not limited to benefit only a particular section of the society, constitutes the core of ethical behavior. It is, now, more than ever, incumbent on business leaders to repair relations with customers and employees by stepping up to the ethical plate, says Howard Gardner, the John H. and Elizabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard School of education in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In thinking of the mind as a set of cognitive capacities, it helps to distinguish the ethical mind from the other four minds that we particularly need to cultivate if we are to thrive as individuals, as a community, and as the human race. The first of these, the disciplined mind, is what we gain through applying ourselves in a disciplined way in school. Over time, and with sufficient training, we gain expertise in one or more fields: We become experts in project management, accounting, music, dentistry, and so forth. A second kind of mind is the synthesizing mind, which can survey a wide range of sources, decide what is important and worth paying attention to, and weave this information together in a coherent fashion for oneself and others. A third mind, the creating mind, casts about for new ideas and practices, innovates, takes chances, discovers. While each of these minds has long been valuable, all of them are essential in an era when we are deluged by information and when anything that can be automated will be. Yet another kind of mind, less purely cognitive in flavor than the first three, is the respectful mind: the kind of open mind that tries to understand and form relationships with other human beings. A person with a respectful mind enjoys being exposed to different types of people. While not forgiving of all, she gives others the benefit of the doubt. An ethical mind An ethical mind broadens respect for others into something more abstract. A person with an ethical mind asks herself, ?What kind of a person, worker, and citizen do I want to be? If all workers in my profession adopted the mind-set I have, or if everyone did what I do, what would the world be like?? It?s important to clarify the distinction between the respectful and the ethical mind, because we assume that one who is respectful and vice versa. One can be respectful without understanding why: a child respects one?s parents and his grandparents because he is taught to. But ethical conceptions and behaviors demand a certain capacity to go beyond your own experience as an individual person. Once you have developed an ethical mind, you become more like the spectator of the team, the citizenry, the world. And you may have to sacrifice respect for another person if your role as a citizen or worker calls on you to do damage control to protect an idea or institution you believe in. Whistle-blowers display ethical minds. Many people might see a top manager doing something unethical, but they won?t do anything about it because they want to keep their jobs, and they feel they must respect the boss. A whistle-blower step back from those concerns and considers the nature of work and the community in a larger way. He takes a mental leap past daily doings; his allegiance is to the workplace or the profession. He acts ethically even though it may cost him his respectful relation to his supervisor and, ultimately, his job and relation to his colleagues. He is able to do this because his own momentary well- being is less important than the broader mission he has endorsed. An ethical orientation begins at home, where children see whether their parents take pride in their work, whether they ?play fair?, whether they give the benefit of the doubt or are close-minded, and so on. As children get older, their peers have an enormous effect. Just as influential is the behavior of the surrounding community towards its citizens. Are young and old people cared for? Beyond the necessary services, are their cultural and social events to learn from and participate in? Do parents take part in these ?gluing? activities and expect their children to do the same? An example of an ethical community is a small city called Reggio Emilia in northern Italy. Aside from providing high-quality services and cultural benefits to its citizens, the city provides excellent infant and toddler centers and preschools. Children feel care for by the community. So when they grow up they return this regard by caring for others, they become good workers and good citizens. The tone has already been set at such a high level that one rarely encounters compromised ? that is, qualitatively or ethically sullied ? work. In such cases, the ethical action taken by the community is to ostracize the compromised worker (in effect, if not by law) so he does not undermines community morals. This stance works as long as everyone sees that everyone wins. Barriers to an ethical mind Sadly, even if one grows up with a strong ethical sense, the bad behavior of others can undermine it. A study conducted by Duke University recently found that 56% of the students in the United States pursuing a master?s degree in Business administration admit to cheating among graduate student groups. If you are a very ambitious MBA student and the people around you are cheating on their exams, you may assume that cheating is the price of success, or maybe you do it because ?everyone does it.? You might even come to think of ethical behavior as a luxury. Though young professionals declare an understanding of and a desire to do good work, they felt that they had to succeed by whatever means. When they had made their mark, they think that they would then become exemplary workers. As young people go into business today, the temptation to skirt ethics is mounting. We live in a time of intense pressure on individuals and organizations to cut corners, pursue their own interests, and forget about the effect of their behavior on others. Additionally, many businesspeople have internalized Milton Friedman?s belief that if we let people pursue their interests and allow the processes of the market place to operate freely, positive moral and ethical consequences will magically follow. But markets are amoral; the line between shading earnings and committing outright fraud is not always clear. Confidence in business is undermined; individuals distrust one another. Reggio Emillia seems light years away. BUSINESS COMMUNICATION IN SERVICE INDUSTRY Communication means transmitting one?s thoughts and ideas or exchanging information in an effective way. The main objective of most business communication is to improve performance. Communication is extremely important for one?s personal and professional success. This process involves the sending and receiving of the message. For efficient and effective communication mainly three things are important: ? The message must be understood. ? One should understand the intended message sent to him or her. ? Some control over the flow of the communication should be applied. A business communication is how one communicates in one?s line of work. It is also a matter of human relationships. Good business communication is a must to meet the demands of the business environment. Most of us spend a lot of time communicating our knowledge, thoughts, and ideas to others. One?s communication at the workplace can make all the difference between success and failure. Communication is described by many as the single most important factor in choosing managerial level staff, yet despite this fact many people are unable to convey their thoughts and they are struggling to communicate effectively. In business, mainly we deal with the oral and written forms of communication. No business is feasible without communication, especially written. An effectual written communication must be clear, succinct, accurate and well designed. For writing any business letter, one should have a clear picture of your target audience for whom one?s letter is intended. The documents should be arranged with the readers? needs in mind. One must create reader-friendly layouts to emphasize vital information. Shorter sentences should be used wherever possible. Whatever is written, it should be writtenwith confidence and power so that it flows logically. Reliability and status will automatically improve by the use of good referencing and better presentation. Oral communication is the essence of management, so a proper education is a must in this field. Oral skills are as important as written. Many people lack in the skills and confidence to make effective presentation. One?s strategy, structure and style of speech should be striking. One?s attention and actions play a major role in oral communication. Managers and supervisors have to be aware of the other people, and have to exert themselves to ensure the other person understands them. A great speaker is great boon to any business. Eye contacts, gestures and dressing sense, all reflect your attitude and approach towards business. If it is an online business then one must have the ability to reach the audience that wants his services or products. Since the online world is so big and it offers so many amazing things, the online business communication needs to be instantaneous and effective. Otherwise the clients will look somewhere else for their requirements. In online businesses, there are so many ways that one can convey one's thoughts. Examples include e-mails, newsletters, web sites, articles and reviews. A businessman can win the respect and clients by every word he or she write and speak. In many ways, the history of human civilization chronicles the increasing centrality of communication. Communication establishes relationships and makes human organization and cooperation possible. Whether one recognizes it or not, one have no choice but to communicate. If one tries to avoid communicating by not replying to messages, he is nevertheless sending a message, but it may not be the one he wants or intends. When you don?t say yes, you may be saying no by default?and vice versa. The only choice one can make about communication is whether one is going to attempt to communicate effectively. Communication Is Complex Communication is a complex process in which many possibilities for error exist. Since World War II, we have become increasingly aware that many of our problems in our personal and professional relationships result from poor communication. Nevertheless, because we spend so much of our time communicating, we tend to assume that we are experts. Surveys indicate that when business professionals are asked to rate their communication skills, virtually everyone overestimates his or her abilities as a communicator. When we have problems understanding or making ourselves understood, the natural tendency is to blame the other person (or persons). Effective Communication Effective communication begins with recognition that not everyone experiences the world in the same way and that other?s views may be as correct?perhaps even more correct?than our own. We create internal, mental maps of reality based on our experiences. When we communicate, whether nonverbally through gestures and actions or verbally through language, we do so based on our mental maps. If a person says, for example, that Coke tastes better than Pepsi, he would not have actually said anything about either Coke or Pepsi. Instead, he would have told the listener something about his subjective experience? the mental map I have created for Coke and Pepsi. Communication is very common in every day life. However effective communication is not as common in every day life. Effective communication techniques require that whatever idea or perception is to be communicated reaches the communicator in the same context as the communicatee intends and the wanted feedback is received. Cultural Differences and Subjective Experience For most of human history, relationships have been based on shared mental maps. When people shared a common language, culture, or religion or had common trade or business interests, they could establish and maintain relationships. Differences led to difficulties. In today?s global economy, we must do better. Fortunately, subjective experience?our mental maps?has structure, and, to a very large extent, that structure is knowable. Although the person who creates and delivers a message may not always recognize it, every message has a purpose or objective. The sender intends?whether consciously or unconsciously?to accomplish something by communicating. Sometimes the primary purpose is simply to enjoy another person?s company and the conversation. In business contexts, however, messages typically have a more definite objective. This is, in fact, one of the principal differences between casual conversation and business and managerial communication. The Meaning of a Message Is the Response it Elicits Each of us is naturally inclined to believe that our messages communicate what we think we communicate. Unfortunately, this is not the case. When we send a message to another person?whether we do so face-to-face, over the phone, or in writing?the message means what he or she thinks it means. For this reason, we will become better communicators to the degree that we can construct messages that elicit the response we desire from others. To be able to do so, we first need the ability to recognize what effect our message actually has on another. Then, if the response is not what we had hoped for, we need the flexibility to change our message in a way that will increase our chances of obtaining the desired result. Although people are infinitely varied in individual traits, they have enough in common so that we can predict with a reasonable degree of accuracy how they will respond to the kinds of messages we usually need to prepare and deliver in a business context. Sensory Acuity Rapport facilitates communication. Of course, once you have achieved rapport, you need to know what to do with it and how to maintain it if you are to achieve your communication objectives. In face-to face communication, one also needs the sensory acuity to recognize whether one is gaining rapport or losing it and whether his communication is bringing him closer to achieving your objective. Sensory acuity requires that one attends to the external environment. In face-to-face communication, that means paying attention to others, to what they are actually saying (the language being used), to how they are saying it (rate of speech, tone of voice, and stressed words), and to whether their nonverbal messages support or contradict the verbal messages. Paying attention to the external is more difficult than it would seem. In conversations, most people attend more to what they want to say next than they do to what the other person is actually saying. Even though the nonverbal aspects of a message (including paralanguage) often convey most of the meaning, people often fail to notice what should be an obvious message. Sensory acuity also plays a role in telephone conversations and in written communication. Because most telephones do not yet convey visual images, communicators need to pay close attention to what and how something is said. Even in written communication, the language used may convey more?or less?than the writer intended. The Benefits of Improving Communication Skills Every business transaction requires communication?a phone call, meeting, letter, memo, oral presentation, or formal report?and the success of the transaction depends on the effectiveness of the communication. One of the clich├ęs in business is that nothing happens until somebody sells something. Communication is central in business because it is central in life: it establishes relationships and makes human organization possible. The benefits of being an effective communicator include the following: ? Increased confidence. One of the primary causes of communication reticence is the fear of making mistakes. Although an extensive vocabulary and good grammar will not guarantee effective communication, using words incorrectly or making noticeable errors in spelling and grammar will cause others to pay more attention to your use of language than to what one is trying to communicate. Having a good vocabulary?and knowing for sure what the words one is using actually mean?and having a good command of the fundamentals of English grammar will allow one to communicate with confidence. ? Increased efficiency. Understanding the fundamentals of grammar and usage, combined with an understanding of the psychology of communication, will allow one to prepare written materials more quickly and to avoid unnecessary revision or repetition. Spending time now in improving your communication skills will provide a good return on investment in time saved later. ? Increased effectiveness. When one improves his communication skills, he increase his ability to get more of what you want in life. One will be able to communicate more clearly and persuasively. Others will pay closer attention to what he says, not only in writing but also in his oral presentations and conversations. ? Better professional and personal relationships. In general, others will feel more comfortable with him and like and understand him better when he has well-developed communication skills. He will also understand others better, even when they do not have especially well-developed communication skills. ETHICS IN BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Business is not a profession. Professions develop over long periods of time and gradually establish a set of control mechanisms and sanctions for all those who violate the code. True professionals, from doctors and lawyers to engineers and architects undergo extensive learning and earn a license. If they do not act according to recognized standards, they can be expelled from their professional guild. In addition, mentoring is an understood component of regulated professions: A medical intern works with head residents or senior physicians who serve, in part, as ethical guides. But business lacks this model; one doesn?t need a license to practice. The only requirement is to make money and not run afoul of the law. Even if one starts out with high personal ethical standards, it?s easy to wander off the proper path, because professional standards are a vocational option, not part of the territory. Certainly there are business people who work professionally, who feel obligated to serve their customers and employees and communities. Businesses can also take on corporate social responsibility. But there are no penalties if they elect not to. Some economists argue that it is illegitimate for businesses to direct profits towards anything other than shareholders. Leaders influence responsible for compromised work Employees certainly listen to what their leaders say, and watch what their leaders and colleagues do even more carefully. Employees feel psychologically emboldened or pressurized to emulate the bad behavior they see in leaders and others ?who get away with it.? Alternatively, leaders who model ethical behavior, especially in spite of the temptations of the market, inspire employees to do likewise and thus win for their firms in the long run. A fine example is that of CEO John Burke of Johnson & Johnson recalling all Tylenol products during the scare in the 1980s thereby exemplifying what is to be ethical in the face of odds. Even 25 years later, his company is rated in the top-spot for corporate reputation among large companies. It matters enormously whether the various interest groups with a stake in the work are in harmony or in conflict and whether the particular role models are confident about the hats they are wearing. When everyone is focused on the same thing, it?s easier to do the work. For example, in the 1990s, geneticists in the US had a relatively easy time pursuing good work because everyone was focused on the same ends of better health and longer life. It was found that journalists had a harder time pursuing good work because their desire to report objectively on the most important events clashed with the public?s desire for sensationalism and pressure from publishers to generate advertisement dollars and avoid controversy. Corporate Practice and Language use Businesses are complex environments, difficult to simulate in the classroom. Yet we can anticipate the types of ethical decisions students will make when they actually get on the job as interns, co-op students, and graduates. An understanding of how language is used in business and an awareness of how a corporation influences its employees' use of language, their values, and especially their interpretations of particular events should be known to every employee. By applying a few specific organizational concepts, introduced in seminars and during internships, students come to realize that ethical concerns and the information needed to resolve them are to a large extent embedded in the social structure of the organization and reflected in its language practices. Repetition and agreement are the common mainstays of any organization and the most influential factors for an organizational member not only when deciding how to use language but also in choosing what language to use. An organization, after all, is simply a group of people who maintain a social contract by complying with a common purpose. Both everyday rituals and the conventions of a company influence the choices members make in using language. Corporate social responsibility ?Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large" World Business Council for Sustainable Development. In 1998, the WBCSD Council launched an ambitious two-year program aimed at providing a better understanding of what corporate social responsibility (CSR) means and what represents good practice. Based on their two-year initiative, they concluded that: ? a coherent CSR strategy, based on integrity, sound values and a long-term approach, offers clear business benefits to companies and a positive contribution to the well- being of society; ? a CSR strategy provides the opportunity to demonstrate the human face of business; ? such a strategy requires engagement in open dialogue and constructive partnerships with government at various levels, IGOs (inter-governmental organizations), NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) other elements of civil society and, in particular, local communities, and; ? in implementing their CSR strategies, companies should recognize and respect local and cultural differences, whilst maintaining high and consistent global standards and policies; ? and finally, being responsive to local differences means taking specific initiatives. For many companies, managing corporate social responsibility well is no longer seen as an extra cost or burden on hard-pressed management. Rather, CSR is increasingly viewed, not only as making good business sense but also contributing to the long-term prosperity of companies and ultimately its survival. Being a good neighbor and showing that you care on the one hand and being a successful business on the other, are flip sides of the same coin. On this basis, the WBCSD Working Group convened a series of global stakeholder dialogues and assembled information about how CSR is viewed around the world. We did this in order to gauge our progress and rigorously test our thinking. The dialogues involved both business and non-business participants and were held in The Netherlands, Taiwan, Thailand, the Phillipines, the United States, Ghana, Brazil and Argentina. The fundamentals of CSR ? maximising the long-term contribution of business to society and taking care to minimize adverse impacts ? were consistently accepted. However, we found significantly different emphases in different parts of the world. Increasingly companies manage social issues in the same way as they manage any other strategic business issue and there are a growing array of tools available to assist and guide them. It is important to recognize that CSR means more than promulgating a company?s own values and principles. It also depends on understanding the values and principles of those who have a stake in, or are affected by, its operation. In this Report, the Working Group offers a navigator to guide companies in their implementation of CSR. It is both a tool and a conceptual approach. It takes account of the need to tailor CSR practice according to an overall vision while also having the ability to respond to specific challenges. WBCSD's 10 messages by which to operate: 1. Business is good for sustainable development and sustainable development is good for business. Business is part of the sustainable development solution, while sustainable development is an effective long-term business growth strategy. 2. Business cannot succeed in societies that fail. There is no future for successful business if the societies that surround it are not working. Governments and business must create partnerships to deliver essential societal services like energy, water, health care and infrastructure. 3. Poverty is a key enemy to stable societies. Poverty creates political and economic instability, a big threat to business and sustainable development. By contrast, businesses can lift living standards and eradicate poverty. 4. Access to markets for all supports sustainable development. Sustainable development is best achieved through open, transparent and competitive global markets. 5. Good governance is needed to make business a part of the solution. Supportive frameworks and regulations are needed for business to contribute fully to sustainable development. 6. Business has to earn its licence to operate, innovate and grow. The way business acts and is perceived is crucial to its success. Accountability, ethics, transparency, social and environmental responsibility and trust are basic prerequisites for successful business and sustainable development. 7. Innovation and technology development are crucial to sustainable development. They provide key solutions to many of the problems that threaten sustainable development. Business has always been, and will continue to be, the main contributor to technological development. 8. Eco-efficiency ? doing more with less - is at the core of the business case for sustainable development. Combining environmental and economic operational excellence to deliver goods and services with lower external impacts and higher quality-of-life benefits is a key sustainable development strategy for business. 9. Ecosystems in balance ? a prerequisite for business. Business cannot function if ecosystems and the services they deliver, such as water, biodiversity, food, fiber and climate, are degraded. 10. Cooperation beats confrontation. Sustainable development challenges are huge and require contributions from all parties ? governments, business, civil societies and international bodies. Confrontation puts the solutions at risk. Cooperation and creative partnerships foster sustainable development. ANALYSIS OF FIELD WORK OBJECTIVE: The banking industry was short-listed for the field work in order to get a better understanding of the practical application of ethical conduct in business communications within the service industry. PROCESS OF COLLECTION OF DATA: The data collection technique was primary as the samples were taken by visiting the subjects and interviewing them. Two sets of questionnaires were prepared for the purpose of collecting samples of data. One was for the bank employees and the other one was for the customers. In this way, the opinions and statements of both the parties could be taken and compared. The customers interviewed were in the age group of 18 to 26 years. ANALYSIS OF THE QUESTIONNAIRE FOR BANKERS 1. What sort of promotional schemes are generally declared for the customers of your company? All the banks offer both financial and non-financial promotional to their customers. The financial schemes are in the form of cash incentives like a greater interest rate or higher credit levels. Higher credit levels are more likely to attract businessmen as they need credit money for the day-to-day running of their businesses. On the other hand, higher interest rates are likely to be more advantageous for salaried and retired persons as they would like their savings to increase faster. Non-financial schemes are in the form of perks like free trip to foreign lands, membership of recreational clubs or even free goods on purchasing goods or hiring services above a cut-off amount using the bank?s credit card. Such schemes attract both salaried people as well as businessmen but they are mainly aimed at the relatively younger group of people who are more interested in such things. All the banks surveyed offered both types of promotional schemes for their customers which show that they are keen on capturing the maximum market share by attracting all types of customers. 2. What is the average duration of the schemes provided by your company? Most of the banks offered their promotional schemes for duration of more than 2 or 5 years. Here duration refers to the period of time in which the schemes would be fulfilled. This holds good mostly for the financial offers like doubling of a certain amount of money after 5 years or so. This implies that bankers don?t want to take risks in the short run. If such schemes are offered in the short term, the bank would end up paying more money than the deposits obtained during that period leading to a loss in revenue. Contrarily, in the case of non-financial schemes, the duration of fulfillment of the schemes is much lower, say, for 1 month. This tactic is effective in motivating the customer to spend their money on goods and services in a short span of time. Moreover, banks tie up with various malls and consumer goods and services companies for announcing such schemes. There is a dual benefit in such schemes as banks get more deposits in a shorter period as well as interest on the credit amount whereas the companies get a chance to increase their sales directly and advertise indirectly. 3. For whom are the schemes generally offered? The various promotional schemes were offered for new customers by most of the banks. This shows that the banks are more interested in attracting new customers than retaining old customers. This has resulted in the customers opening accounts in multiple banks and then transferring money from one account to the other according to the availability of better offers. 4. What is the percentage of success in convincing the customers about the company?s offers? The percentage of success in convincing the people about the bank?s offers is very low in all the banks. One possible reason for such a trend is that there are a lot of competitors in the market and no bank can easily convince a prospective customer. In fact, this factor acts as the stepping stone for unethical conduct on the par of the bankers as they resort to white lies and try to represent their bank in a false light in order to convince any prospective customer. 5. If the customers? readiness to accept the promotional offers were measured in a scale of 0 to 10, what would be the average score? (please specify a no. between 1 and 10) The average score came out to be below 5 for all the banks. This shows that customers are not ready to buy the bankers? stories easily when it comes to opening an account and depositing money with the bank. A possible reason for this trend is that most of the schemes offered by different banks are very much similar with only a thin margin of difference. Due to this, customers find it difficult to decide which bank they should choose. That is why, they take up more time to come to a decision and therefore, their readiness levels are lower. Another factor responsible for such a delay is that people are wary of being cheated later. They are afraid that there might be something in the fine print which they were missing. So they delay a lot and consult many persons before taking a decision. 6. What percentage of your present customers had approached the bank by themselves? It is seen that most of the customers had approached the bank by themselves for opening their account. This implies that the advertising techniques employed by the banks are pretty effective in attracting customers. This also hints at the fact that customers prefer non- personal form of communication more than personal communication when it comes to banks. Another important factor is that whether the bank is a state bank or a private bank. If it is a government bank, then people used to feel safer. But nowadays, even private banks have proper safety measures taken to protect their customer?s money. What matters is service in which the private banks are ahead than the public ones. 7. What is the success percentage in fulfilling the schemes later? It was sadly noted that the success percentage of fulfilling the promotional offers were actually very low. This implies that the banks did not actually deliver what they promised. It is for this very reason that customers think twice before being lured by any such promotional scheme. This is an outright violation of the ethical code of conduct. 8. Where would you place your bank?s schemes in comparison to other banks on a scale of 0 to 10? Most banks placed their schemes at the level of 3-6 in comparison to the other banks. The reason is that most banks offer almost same types of schemes. So it is not possible to rate one bank?s schemes above the others. Bankers should try to develop innovative schemes which can ensure the success of their product. 9. Do you tell your customers about all the schemes available in the market or only those which are inferior to your banks? schemes? None of the banks told their customers about all the schemes available in the market. Most of them told the customer about only the inferior ones. This is also in violation of the ethics to be followed. The defense taken by them is that they are bound to show their own products in a better light. As the banks do not tell their customers about all the available schemes, the customers later come to know about them and feel that they would have got a better bargain by opening their accounts elsewhere. 10. How many customers come back complaining about the non-fulfillment of their promised schemes? Most of the banks said that most of the customers did not come back with any complaints. But this does not necessarily imply that they never have any complaints. It is also possible that the customers consider it as too trivial an issue to be complained about. In this way, the bankers escape from the liability of ethical conduct. There should be some regulatory body to monitor the level of ethics being followed in various service industries. 11. How much time is required to redress those complaints? Most of the banks took 2 to 3 weeks, on the average, in redressing their clients? complaints. It has been seen that public banks take more time than the private ones. Therefore it can be inferred that the overall level of ethics is comparatively higher in private banks than the public ones. ANALYSIS OF THE QUESTIONNAIRE FOR CUSTOMERS 1. What sort of promotional schemes do you prefer? 4.5 4 4 3.5 3 3 3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 Financial Non-financial Both 2. How frequently do you get promotional offers from the bank? 7 6 6 5 4 3 3 2 1 1 0 6 months 1 year 2 to 5 years more than 5 years 3. Did you feel motivated to open an account by any of the promotional schemes offered by your bank? No, 4 Yes No Yes, 6 4. Did you consult any other bank?s schemes before opening your account in this bank? No, 2 Yes No Yes, 8 5. On a scale of 0 to 10, how would you rate the behavior of the person who informed you about the various schemes at the time of opening your account? 9 8 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 1 1 0 0 to 3 3 to 5 5 to 7 7 to 10 6. Did the person compare their bank?s schemes with other banks? No, 4 Yes No Yes, 6 7. After opening your account here did you feel that other banks had better schemes? Yes, 4 Yes No No, 6 8. Being an existing customer do you still get many new offers and schemes from your bank? No, 2 Yes No Yes, 8 9. How long does the bank take to redress your complaints, if any? 3.5 3 3 3 2.5 2 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 1-2 weeks 2-4 weeks more than 4 weeks 10. What is your overall satisfaction level with respect to the services provided by your bank? 7 6 6 5 4 3 2 2 1 1 1 0 0-25% 25-50% 50-70% 70-90% INFERENCES: 1. People prefer financial offers more as compared to non-financial ones. This trend is more pronounced among the young people. A probable reason for this is that they would like to save more in the initial years of their career so that they can sit back and relax in the future. 2. They also seem to get promotional offers more frequently as people are supposed to be more spendthrift in their younger age. 3. They were mostly motivated by the promotional schemes offered by the bank. This shows that the banks? strategy of showing the carrot was successful to an extent. 4. About 80 percent of the people interviewed, had consulted other banks and their schemes before arriving at a decision. This is a healthy trend for the economy as the companies would not be able to fool people easily. 5. Again eighty percent of the respondents had rated the staff?s behavior as good. This also has an indirect effect on the customer?s mind while making a choice. The behavior of each employee is representative of the company?s image in front of the masses. 6. In 6 out of 10 cases the staff had compared the bank?s scheme with other banks? schemes. This represents fair conduct on the part of the employee. 7. It can be inferred that the information provided by the staff was not wrong as all those who had received the information were satisfied with their present banks? schemes respectively. 8. Even after opening an account in the present banks, most of the customers still get promotional offers from the bank. This signifies an eagerness on the part of the respective banks to retain their existing customers while trying to do more business with them at the same time. 9. only on disturbing trend is that the banks take more than 4 weeks to redress the customers? grievances in 37.5 % of the cases and 2 to 4 weeks in another 37.5% of the cases. The banks should try to minimize this period of complaint redressal. 10. the overall satisfaction level among the customers is relatively good as it is 50 to 70 percent for about 60% of the people and 70 to 90 percent for about another 20% of the people. CONCLUSION From the above discussion and the results of the field study it can be concluded that ethics play a very important role in business communications of customers and bankers. The banks generally follow ethical conduct in their business dealings and generally inform the customers about all the available options so that customers find it easy to choose. The bankers do not generally provide false information which can be seen from the fact that the customers are satisfied with their respective banks. There is only one flaw and that is the banks need to decrease the time taken by them to redress their customer?s grievances. This can be done by constituting a special customer complaint redressal cell. Therefore, it can be inferred that the service industry as a whole can be benefited if they follow an ethical code of conduct in conducting their business. Ethics in business communication can go a long way in being the one of the deciding factors in the success or failure of a business enterprise. It is hence, advisable that all business entities should follow ethics strictly in order to survive in the market for a longer term. BIBLIOGRAPHY JOURNALS: 1. Harvard Business Review, March, 2007 WEBSITES 1. 2. 3. 4. SEARCH ENGINES 1. 2.
Posted: 05 September 2010

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