3.1 Ethical and Legal Issues in Entrepreneurship
The first section of this chapter explores the relationship between entrepreneurship, ethics, social responsibility, and the law. At times, ethical conduct and legal conduct may seem intertwined; in other circumstances, they are quite different. This section discusses how ethical considerations can provide a moral compass for entrepreneurs seeking to find a balance between making money and doing the right thing. Keep in mind, however, that unlike legal mandates, following ethical business practices is more often a voluntary matter for business owners and operators. On the other hand, laws are important to follow, or you and your business might well be held legally liable (civilly or criminally). Sometimes, making a mistake is only an ethical lapse; other times, the mistake also constitutes a violation of the law (e.g., the Equifax case discussed).
3.2 Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship
This section explored examples of entrepreneurship in which social responsibility plays a key role in the organization. Causes such as sustainability/environmental awareness are often important to an entrepreneur and his/her workforce. Most startup businesses want to make money, and in fact, as this section demonstrates, it’s quite possible to make money and carry out a social responsibility goal simultaneously. Some social entrepreneurship companies go the extra mile and become certified B-corporations, as opposed to C-corps or S-corps, which are tax distinctions. If an entrepreneur elects to become a B-corporation, it means that it has satisfied an outside organization’s audit, proving that he/she truly acts in a socially responsible manner.
3.3 Developing a Workplace Culture of Ethical Excellence and Accountability
This section of the chapter covers the area of employment. We explored how entrepreneurs can make their company one for which people want to work: where being ethical is a highly regarded trait. This type of approach to employment includes both ethical and legal considerations, such as no discrimination, fair pay, encouraging/rewarding ethical behavior, and creating an atmosphere of collegial teamwork. This approach to creating a socially responsible workplace requires a long-term commitment to being an ethical employer, which is not always easy. For example, it may mean, even though you are the boss or owner, admitting you made a mistake, accepting responsibility for it, and correcting it. You do not want to be the type of boss who can never say I got that wrong, and I’ll do better next time.