Business Ethics: Why Can’t People Keep Their Word?

One of the joys of being in your 40s is a new-found confidence, self-assurance and a no-bullshit attitude. You know who you are; you no longer waste time on people in either your private or your work life who don’t keep their word.

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I’m talking about integrity: it’s such a small word, but one with enormous impact. Why is it so hard for some people to keep their word and act with decency and honesty in their business dealings? We all know the type: ruthless, unscrupulous people who rip you off at every opportunity, who owe money all over town. For them, business ethics are non-existent. Thank God for a beautiful thing called karma, I say!

Corporate etiquette expert Jodie Bache-McLean (pictured), the much-respected director of both June Dally-Watkins (JDW) and Dallys Model Management, says the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles is a highly admirable life skill that’s sometimes underrated in the business world.

careers, career advice, business etiquette
“Ethics in business is extremely important; unethical behaviour or a lack of corporate social responsibility can damage a firm’s reputation,” Jodie says. “Ethics influence and contribute to employee commitment, customer satisfaction and reputation and image. And ethics are also about an individual’s moral judgement about right and wrong, so the decision to behave ethically is a moral one.

“If you keep your word, you do what you have promised to do. When our words do not match our actions, we lose a measure of healthy ownership and control over our lives.

“Essentially, this is what is called a soft skill. However, sometimes it’s the least-considered skill which is so paramount in what constitutes an effective manager or leader. Human or people skills refer to the core of ethics, treat others as you would be treated: with respect, honesty and trust.”

A lack of business ethics can be simply due to a person’s need to “save face,” Jodie says. “It is sometimes easier to lie than say no, or admit fault,” she says. “At times, we all want to avoid confrontation. The saying ‘a little white lie’ comes to mind – it is far easier to tell a little lie than to hurt someone’s feelings or cover up a mistake that you have created.”

careers, career advice, business etiquette

So, can business ethics be taught, or are some business executives lost causes?

“First, you need to find your own moral compass, the way we behave is directly related to our learned behaviour. There is a saying: ‘you cannot give what you do not have,'” Jodie says.

“Teaching ethics is not like teaching finance or accounting procedures; it is about developing moral principles which define right and wrong from a universal point of view.

“But with all teaching, you need to lead by example. Many companies and business executives fall short on ethics in business and it becomes more about: ‘Do what I say, not what I do’. What they fail to recognise, is that showing business ethics is a strength, not a weakness.”

Images via,

August 24, 2015

Inspirational Women: Nicole Lamond Philp

Each week, SHESAID features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chosen field, someone still on their own path, striving to make a difference or simply someone with a remarkable story to tell. These women contribute their own knowledge, expertise and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.

Name and role:

Nicole Lamond Philp, director of Universal Village, a Fair Trade food company that imports and distributes Qi Tea and is also the owner and distributor of Rhino Coffee.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I run all aspects of the business and outsource operations to a 3rd party logistics company. I have a national sales and merchandising company that does my sales nationwide. Mostly I’m focused on marketing, including promoting Qi Teas which are in Woolworths, IGAs and soon to be in Coles. Some of this is creative work, which I love the most – creating campaigns, writing copy etc.

How/when did you know this what you wanted to do as a career?

I’ve never really thought of it as a career, it’s more that I wanted to be involved in Fair Trade – I wanted to introduce Fair Trade into Australia and see it in the mainstream.

“Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices, Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives.”

Where do you find your inspiration?

People who take a different path in life to the one they were born into – people who take up the challenge of what they are ‘called’ to do is really inspiring. Any work (whether art or in business) that is striving for what is good, true or beautiful is awesome.

Did you have a mentor? Who/what helped you to get your career off the ground?

Yes, I do have a business mentor, Dale Simpson of Bravo Consulting. He’s been fantastic. He keeps me looking at the big picture – what am I trying to achieve? Because the goal wasn’t about a $ profit figure or something so tangible. It’s easy for one’s dream to get buried in the day to day minutiae and Dale helped keep the dream alive, so to speak. And it’s so valuable to have someone in your corner on the days when you feel like chucking it all in!

What were the stumbling blocks, initially getting started on your career path, and since then?

The fact that I didn’t really know what I was doing when I started the business was a bit of a stumbling block! I’d also only ever worked in admin, I’d never been the person at the top actually making decisions. It took me a long time to get out of that mindset and grow in confidence.

How did you overcome these?

I went and did the first year of an MBA, then switched over to the Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which was a great course.

What are your goals for the future?

To meet really inspiring people who are making the world a better place. To grow Qi Tea to be the most significant green tea brand in grocery in Australia and to see Fair Trade products in every household in Australia. To become more loving. To live in a house that feels like I’m living in a work of art. To spend some time living on a boat or in a shack near the edge of the world.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?

Choose something you’re passionate about and go for it! A general rule of thumb in the early days is everything costs double what you budget and will take twice as long as what you think, so always, ALWAYS crunch the numbers. Timing is the essence of life and each year brings its set of (hopefully) victories and challenges. Take time to reflect and appreciate and learn from them all. Never compromise your values or your dream to make the world a better place.

December 19, 2014

Inspiring Business Women: Bondi Chai’s Melissa Edyvean

Being a non-coffee drinker meant Melissa Edyvean often felt a bit ‘on the outer’ at café gatherings with friends and, certain that she wasn’t alone, she decided to introduce premium chai latte to the Australian market. The only obstacle being that she, and her partner Martin, had never started a business before.

Since its launch in 2005, Bondi Chai now sell over half a million serves of chai a month in Australia and exports to a growing number of countries, including India – the home of chai!

“The learning curve was more a cliff than a curve, but I am  really enjoying the roller coaster ride of a new business experience,” says Melissa.

We chat with Melissa about the trials and tribulations of owning a business, what she would do differently and her tips for other women starting their own business.

What gave you the idea to start your own business?
We were already running our own PR/Marketing consultancy when we discovered chai latte whilst on holidays in the States in 2000.

My partner Martin started that business when he lost his position as the Australian MD of a Japanese company that was shut down by the banks during Japanese economic collapse in 1989. He’d never been made ‘redundant’ before, so it shook him pretty badly and he made a commitment there and then that he would never again work for another company.

One of his previous lives had been as a senior political journalist so he started his own business in PR/Government relations. We got together in 1999 and I joined him in that business – I have a graphic design background so I was able to add another dimension. After discovering chai latte, we decided to add a small chai latte ‘arm’ to or company.

We knew nothing about the food and beverage industry, but when we looked around, we couldn’t find any chai latte in Australia and it seemed to us that it was only a matter of time before something that good would be brought here by somebody. We just thought “why not us”?

We didn’t really get serious about it until a few years later when the US brand we had been working with was sold and the new owners just cut Australia out of their sales plans. That gave us the opportunity to blend our own product and we had a few ideas about how to improve on the brand we’d been selling so we spent about the next eight months creating a brand, creating our own recipes, getting a business plan together, organising finance (we set up a $100k line-of-credit – remember those! – against our home). All while still running our PR company to keep food on the table. We launched our own product in May2005, and both Martin and I went full time in August that year.

What makes your product different from other chai brands?
The principal difference is that it was blended from the start to dissolve in milk – a feat which most food scientists said couldn’t be done – but we insisted that they prove themselves wrong, and we found someone who could.

The milk-soluble formula, in turn, delivers all the other attributes that have made our product the most awarded of its kind in the country – creaminess, great taste profiles (no two chai latte brands are the same and can vary from ‘undrinkable’ to ‘unbelievable’!). Our product is also low-dose, meaning lower costs per serve to the cafe owner than every other chai latte we’ve encountered.

It’s gluten-free, low caffeine and has none of the ‘industrial nasties’ often needed to make a milk-drink with powder and water. And it has just been selected as one of only four beverage finalists in the Healthy Food Awards.

Finally, I’m not aware of any other ‘western’ chai latte being sold in India – as is our product. You can enjoy a Bondi Chai in many places around India – even in the most prestigious hotel in the country – the Oberoi Hotel – or a café in Kathmandu!

Who is your business inspiration or mentor?
There’s an old saying about “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear” and we’ve been fortunate to have many teachers ‘appear’ when we’ve needed them. We’ve built a completely outsourced business model which we manage from home – and with only one full-time employee – so we’re always conscious of finding people who can learn from or be inspired by.

There have been lots of people – Oprah Winfrey, Robert Kiyosaki, Dr John DeMartini, Sir Richard Branson and most recently by our new sales manager who inspires us every day with her enthusiasm for our product and the energy she puts in to sharing it with as many people as she can.

Our mentor, for many years now, is Peter Irvine, a co-founder of the Gloria Jeans empire. We read Peter’s first book, thought it would be wonderful if he would offer us some advice and went to a breakfast he was speaking at so that we could meet him. We were over the moon when he agreed to help us.

What, if anything, would you do differently with your business?
We strongly believe that the only real mistake you can ever make is not to learn from your mistakes.

I hope we’ve learned something from everything that we’ve done or that’s happened that we wish had turned out differently so in that sense, even when things didn’t go the way we had originally planned or hoped, the lessons we learned definitely made us stronger.

What tips would you give women wanting to start their own business?
Get advice from people you respect but always go with your own gut feeling. Learn as much as you can – by doing as much as you can – early on, when the ‘school fees’ are lowest.

Do your research – make sure your product or service is the best it can be and that it’s something that’s truly needed – remembering that just because you like it won’t necessarily mean that other people will.

But if it’s a great product/service that people really need, enough people will pay for it to keep you going while through your years as an amateur and learning to become a pro.

We hear things like “you’re a woman, you can do anything” all the time these days, and of course that’s true. But I do think we’ve also got to realise that while we can do anything, we can’t do everything.

When I was growing up only rich people had a housekeeper come in a clean or do the ironing. But when I realised that my time was worth more when spent in my business than cleaning the house, it just didn’t make sense any more to be trying to do that job as well.

What’s next for Bondi Chai?
We have so much we still want to achieve with our product and brand – both in Australia and overseas. Some of our bigger plans include major expansion overseas with distributors in three new countries currently under way. We are also working on several co-branding and licensing arrangements in a range of complementary products that will help us to expand our brand.

Who are your most inspiring business women? Tell us in the comments!

October 21, 2013