Ethics and Partnerships – Ethics Issues and Potential Partners Part 1
When getting involved in a partnership, one of a number of issues you
will have to face relates to ethics and the choice of your partner.
Making sure any partner you choose to work with does not prompt ethics
queries or issues is a very important part of choosing the right
business or community group to work with.
A mistake in choosing your partner that does raise ethics issues can be
a very serious drawback for a community group or business, and can do
more harm than good when it comes to the reputation and standing of
Not only that, but it would also mean any partnership you have entered
into will only be a short-lived (and not very successful) one.
In reality, these sorts of ethical dilemmas are ones faced more often
by a community group looking to partner with a business than vice
versa. It is also often community groups we think of as having to
contend with "selling out" or compromising their ethics and beliefs in
the pursuit of support or exposure.
However, business partners can still have to grapple with ethics issues
in some circumstances, which means both community organisations and
businesses need to be aware of making the right decision on whom to
This two-part Help Sheet is not
designed to be a "cure-all" that addresses every single ethics issue.
It is meant as a guide to identifying potential and present issues that
could cause ethics problems and looking at some ways to avoid or reduce
the heartache they bring about.
Your Ethics And Choosing A Partner
The first thing you need to do is know your group's – or business' -
own ethics. That should be relatively easy – as it is most likely
heavily linked to what you stand for.
For example, if your group has an environmental focus, then it is
likely the group's set of ethics would centre on support for the
conservation, protection and enhancement of the natural environment
and, generally, a "greener" outlook. That therefore would also lead to
an opposition to things which are in conflict to these values.
It would also be reasonable to say most of those in the group would
share a large amount of "common ethical beliefs" through their
membership of the group.
Likewise a business can easily reflect the ethics of either its
owner/manager (especially if it is a small or medium-sized enterprise)
or staff. That may include opposition to certain types of businesses or
groups, or even to certain things in society (for example, the
prevalence of poker machines in society).
Once you know (or have clarified) your
ethics, it is time to make sure you choose the right types of potential
partners to pursue. If you don't, that's when ethical dilemmas can
Partnering someone whose core beliefs do not match with yours.
Forming a partnership with someone whose priorities and values
are in direct opposition to yours, or.
Working with someone that is not representative of the social
norms or positive messages you are trying to promote.
Ethics and Community Groups Looking for a Partner
Most of us would be able to think of a number of contentious ethics
issues off the top of our heads. However other ethics issues can arise
that don't have to be as contentious.
Some can be as simple as a potential business partner having
questionable attitudes, practices or philosophies in a field your group
feels strongly about, having associations that are in conflict with
your group's beliefs, or are behind products that contradict values
your group promotes.
Ethics and Businesses Looking for a Partner
It is important to remember that businesses can also have certain
ethics-related issues when they are looking for potential partners.
Like some challenges that face community groups when looking for a
partner, not all ethics issues for businesses have to involve highly
controversial topics. Some can relate back to an organisation's social
attitudes or associations with other businesses or individuals your
business does not agree with.