It has been said that perceptions determine attitudes and attitudes determine behavior. Assuming this is true, then if I perceive that you are unethical, you are!
Perceptions are neither right nor wrong they just are, and yet they have a profound impact on our buying habits, personal/professional relationships, etc. For example, if you walk into a store and there’s merchandise on the floor and the place is dirty, might you take your business someplace else? Of course, you might. Or if you don’t like your doctor’s bedside manner, you look for another one and it goes on and on and on. All perceptions!
In business today, you can’t even give the perception that you not ethical, fair, honest, etc. Why? because peoples’ perceptions are their truth. It may not be THE truth, but it’s their truth and is their basis for their attitudes and behavior, rightly or wrongly.
Think about this. What’s your best advertising, word of mouth, right? Now what’s your worst advertising, word of mouth right? So how are you dealing with your customers’ perceptions of you and your business?
Therefore what is really possible with perceptions of ethics in business? The goal is to decrease the odds of any negative perceptions from occurring by: consistent, ongoing training; reinforcement of what’s acceptable and what is not, what is negotiable and what is not, and of course, do the right thing, at the right time for the right reason!