to Medium Enterprises
Business Conduct and the Small to Medium Enterprise
business should occupy in society" is a particularly
for the small to medium enterprise ("SME").
Each SME is unique, often taking on the character of its
owners and managers. There is surprisingly little research
into the social responsibility of the SME. Moreover, it
is difficult, at best, to generalize the SME experience
from country to country or even between regions within
a particular country.
SMEs in emerging market economies are pioneers; they are
plowing new ground as they contribute to developing a
market economy. In most economies, they provide the bulk
of jobs, especially new jobs, and contribute significantly
to the welfare of their communities because they are so
closely connected. On the other hand, SMEs often lack
the capital, staff, or time of large, complex enterprises
("LCEs") to address many business issues. For
example, tracking and meeting changing laws and regulations
are relatively more costly for the SME; they seldom have
the close relationships with government that LCEs have,
especially those recently privatized; and they are often
unable to defend themselves against unreasonable decrees,
laws, or regulations or advocate for changes that would
facilitate the change to a market economy.
of the best practices developed over the last two decades
reflect the experiences of LCEs, there are a number of
reasons why a SME might profit by adapting what they learned
to address the responsible business conduct issues before
process of developing standards, procedures, and expectations
is the same for all enterprises, the answers for each
enterprise will depend upon the size and complexity of
the enterprise itself. The goal for the SME is not to
duplicate the standards, procedures, infrastructure, practices,
and expectations of LCEs, but to learn from them-and to
improve them. Corporate Responsibility
SME Conversion table.
SMEs will find that they need not act alone in adapting
the world-class standards, procedures, infrastructure,
practices, and expectations described in these materials.
Chambers of commerce, business associations, colleges
and universities, other nongovernmental organizations
("NGOs"), and other trusted professional advisors
can use the Manual to help a SME find its way. Such advisors
can amortize the time required to master these materials
over service to a number of SMEs.
opportunities for the SME
SMEs have an
additional incentive to adopt the discipline of responsible
business conduct: to create a wider commercial network.
Where owners and managers embrace the global language
of responsible business through a Business Ethics Program,
a network of business enterprises and supportive NGOs
based on shared values is possible. Such a network allows
the individual SME to develop some of the synergies and
economies of scale that only larger enterprises can afford.
Considerations for the Small to Medium Enterprise
complex enterprises ("LCEs"), the average small
to medium ("SME") is closely identified with
its owners and managers, so they must be particularly
alert to designing a well-balanced Business Ethics Program.
Often, they will be tempted to work out the program on
their own and simply present it to employees and other
stakeholders because of limited resources and staff, and
because, after all, it is their enterprise. Though in
many cultures workers expect to be told what to do, even
what to think, a program is more apt to succeed where
workers are involved enough in its design to feel committed
to it and willing to use individual judgment to apply
its standards to the issues they face.
managers should resist this temptation and engage their
employees and other stakeholders as much as possible,
adapting the processes described in this Manual, as appropriate.
For example, owners and managers can use the program design
worksheets described in the balance of this Manual to
guide their thinking in designing the program and stimulate
dialogue with their employees and other stakeholders.