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ebbf Sarajevo event brings out the essence of what an ethical company actually looks like

We share with you an example of the kinds of local ebbf events, that bring to various parts of the world the learning and exploration of new ideas through ebbf’s meaningful conversations.

This time it is the ebbf Sarajevo team who shares the learning from on of their series of local ebbf events where these five questions were covered:

. What are the differences between ethical and non-ethical businesses? . In what ways can a company create a good reputation? . Why is multiculturalism beneficial for an organization? . Why is it important for people to know the purpose of an organization and their role in it? . What are the benefits to companies for providing a service to the community?

“Our discussions on the topics covered:

Topic 1. What are the differences between ethical and non-ethical businesses? We discussed how both ethical and unethical businesses exist in almost every country. Different economic situations can impact the number of one type or the other. The traits of ethical businesses that we identified were that they had respect for their product, had respect for the rights of their employees, clients, suppliers etc., created positive energy in the community, and maintained a good reputation. Bosnia and Hercegovina is a country that has moved from a socialist system where the state organizes everything, to a capitalist one where individuals must pursue their own goals. There is still a lot of trauma left over from the war. Due to the trauma experienced during this sudden shift, many people feel they cannot adapt effectively or lead meaningful lives, so they don’t even try. Some companies try to profit from exploiting this mind-set, whilst others try to put effort into healing the country and creating progress.


Topic 2. How does a company create a good reputation? We explored the theme of Corporate Social Responsibility. Companies should invest a percentage of what they earn back into the community. This stimulates growth and can open potential opportunities for that company in the future. Integrity in respecting appointments, agreements and the schedules of your employees and clients is essential. Employee satisfaction, which often translates into customer satisfaction, should be a priority. Action, instead of words and promises, should be the results of the efforts of the company.


Topic 3. Why is multiculturalism beneficial to an organization? We started off this discussion with the question of whether multiculturalism is more beneficial. In companies that follow a strict sense of order or discipline, there might not be enough flexibility to support the needs of a diverse community. Personal prejudice might also influence opinions and attitudes and might threaten to lower productivity. On the other hand, a diverse group with different backgrounds can bring a lot more creativity to an organization. New types of ideas can flourish, and a wider range of clients can be reached. If the company has the space for such ideas, and if it has not just tolerance, but acceptance of their value, they can be a very powerful resource. The most difficult step is usually to make this transition, as a lot of companies might rely on their traditions and strict order to ‘maintain’ their productivity.


Topic 4. Why is it important for people to know the purpose of an organization and their role in it? In the information age, people expect to know the specific details of things they are interested in. In terms of business, this can be clients who want to purchase a product or the employees making it. Each wants to know if it is worthwhile for their needs. For the employee specifically, they are interested in not only their salary, but the impact the company has on the community, what the employee does for the company, and how much the company values their work. If a person feels that a company is harming their community or environment, they may be demoralised if they are working in it or otherwise supporting it. However, even when the company benefits both the community and environment, if an employee is not sure how they contribute, or feel that what they do is not valued, they may become dissatisfied with their own work.


Topic 5. What are the benefits to companies for providing a service to the community? Not only profit, but the opportunity to create sustainable growth for both the community and company. With the focus on providing more than just a product, and by examining and reacting to what a community needs, companies can create a service that addresses those needs and still provides enough to the company to allow it to grow. Companies can also invest into communities without a direct profit and still benefit. An IT company investing into providing programming courses to a community not only empowers the community with additional skills, but creates opportunities for itself to hire more specialized employees a few years down the line


Closing Discussion: We ended with a group discussion where we highlighted the key points of each topic, and how these changes might happen in a country such as Bosnia & Hercegovina. Some participants were sceptical, stating that ethics is not a priority for local business leaders, and that many of these are former war-profiteers with no interest in helping the community. They stated that many individuals are not likely to help someone else without having something in return, or that they simply do not have the resources or financial means to help out. A counter-argument was made that during the war, when there were very limited resources, people banded together in neighbourhoods and communities and shared what they had, helping each other when possible. We realized that such acts of selflessness and generosity that allow a community to survive during its worst period, should also be of benefit and be attempted when the community is more prosperous.

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