ICS Magazine

Ethical Behavior for Cleaning Professionals, Part 2

September 25, 2000
When jobs are at stake, most people will do whatever is necessary to survive! Only a few will have the courage to put the job at risk when dealing with ethical issues...

Why are ethics problems so common in the professional cleaning industry today? A couple of hours of research using the Internet search engine tools soon made it quite clear that ethics in business is a major issue in all businesses today, not just our industry.

Researching information for this article recently led me to participate in an on-line course titled “The Ethics Gap” by Frank C. Bucero of the Interactive Achievement Center as presented on www.SmartPlanet.com.

This course enlightened me and provided some real insight on the need for ethics training in every company, especially those providing services such as we do.

Why Your Company Must Consider Ethical Behaviors Training

Here is the ethics situation as I see it: 1. Our industry is made up of “mom-and-pop” businesses for the most part (meaning very small). 2. There is an on-going outcry by a vocal segment of these mom-and-pop businesses about bait-and-switchers and other “bad guys” who supposedly deliver poor service that the silent majorities willingly accept as truth. 3. These same mom-and-pops also deliver very questionable service quality:

a. They have sacrificed both quality and service to maintain unrealistically low pricing for one reason or another.

b. They accuse others of delivering questionable service when they do the same thing in a slightly different way.

My Observation

1. Small businesses in our industry cannot continue to accuse others of delivering questionable quality while doing the same thing themselves. 2. It takes more than loudly proclaiming ones excellence to do quality work. 3. Ethics training is long overdue and must start now or the future of mom-and-pops as viable businesses is in danger.


1. Every person has a different set of unique values and ethics. Every person’s life experience is unique. It’s this life experience that develops a person’s values and ethics. Each of us is molded by a combination of ethnic, religious and family values, and each makes something different of their experiences. 2. People will modify their values and ethics (positively or negatively) depending on the pressure of their needs! It’s a fact of human nature that while each individual is responsible for their own set of behaviors and are guided by their own set of values, most will change or modify these far easier than you might imagine.

Human behaviors change depending on the level of their needs. When jobs are at stake (even in today’s economy), most people will do whatever is necessary to survive! Only a few will have the courage to put the job at risk when dealing with ethical issues based on vague, seemingly unimportant principles.

Employees find it easier to blindly follow procedures that produce poor quality and customer service, as long as they have not been instructed in the way things should properly be done.

Like it or not, your company’s culture (ethics and values) are defined by what the top executive actually does or does not do. The employee who wishes to keep a job will subconsciously mold himself or herself after the “boss.”

So, what should you teach? Use what the Josephson Institute of Ethics refers to as the “Six Pillars of Character,” and you teach both by example and in a training session.

In the next “Training Corner,” we’ll review these “Pillars of Character” along with some other training resources you can use. By the way, did I mention that this is crucial to your survival as a business?

As always, comments are invited at the discussion board at www.icsmag.com or e-mail me at cleanlee@aol.com.