Strong ethics are a virtuous goal. However, companies often have a tough time living out their values. Telling the truth can be hard, and clients don’t always appreciate it. That’s why calling yourself ethical is easy, while acting ethically is difficult. At Quartet, we practice what we preach. We aren’t perfect, but we will fall on our sword if we make a mistake, and we will always speak in truth and candour.
Several years ago, a client of ours came to us proposing we take on a much larger piece of their IT. Their new proposal would have nearly tripled the size of our contract and rapidly expanded our business. However, we declined the opportunity.
This might seem a strange move. Nonetheless, we decided to walk away from the contract because we didn’t believe we were the right company for the job. We weren’t large enough to handle the additional work, and didn’t feel like we would be able to complete it to our high standards.
We shared our reasoning with the client, along with discussing our capabilities and limitations. Fortunately for us, they understood and respected us for speaking frankly. As a result of this, the relationship has continued to grow steadily, and without the risk associated with a rapid expansion.
We could have gone ahead with the work, but we knew that our relationship with the client would have ultimately suffered. They would have been unhappy with our efforts, and may have even taken their business elsewhere.
Our clients recognize that speaking in candour is partly what makes Quartet unique. It makes us a great company to work for, and a better company to do business with. While it may cost us in the short term, our clients have come to respect our ethical behaviour. They have rewarded our honesty with more business, demonstrating that acting ethically is both an effective business strategy and a successful way to run a company.