Business ethics in action: let your light shine

We have written some thoughts in recent blogs about ethics, corruption and bribery.  Because IBEC serves businesses in countries that are the most corrupt in the world (see www.transparency.org), we hear stories like this from time to time.  This story gives a glimpse of what it is like to make ethical decisions in the real-life context in Asia.

Following ethical business practices whether in North America or overseas is not always easy. Questionable opportunities present themselves in various ways that can lead to object lessons and experiences that provide us with better understanding.

A few months ago, a client operating a business in Asia (Rick) contacted a nearby new factory as part of regular efforts to explore new manufacturing partners. Rick had been chatting with Wang, a young sales agent at this company for a few days when they decided to meet face-to-face. However, the meeting quickly turned sour as Wang started explaining a plan to secretly take developed clients from his company and refer them to Rick’s for a commission.

“I explained that this was not the way our company was interested in doing business,” Rick recalled. As Rick tried to end the meeting quickly but politely, Wang noticed the Bible on a shelf and asked if Rick was a Christian believer. “I said ‘yes’ and explained the connection between my faith and our desire to do business under ethical conditions,” explained Rick.

Wang left disappointed and Rick was sure he would never see him again. To his surprise, Wang started chatting with him online three days later and announced that he had quit his job and decided to open his own independent sales company. “After working as a sales manager for 3 years under 3 different bosses, I’ve been lied to countless times and not one had ever fulfilled promises made on commissions or other aspects of business agreements,” Wang explained.

“When I turned down his offer of backdoor referrals, it stood out to him in the context of his culture,” Rick said. Over the next few weeks, the two men chatted often regarding trade leads, business, life and faith.  Just before Rick left on a sales trip to America Wang asked, “How does someone have a faith like you have?”

“Our first business meeting upon my return from the USA involved this young man, myself, and another employee, and during the meeting Wang said he wanted to follow Jesus,” Rick said.

Rick continued, “I am not sure how the business cooperation with him will work out, but I am surprised, and pleased to say the least, at how what seemed to me to be a basic ethical business decision could make such an impact on a young man that would eventually lead to a significant life changing experience.”

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:15-17

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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