Cosmetology’s Ethical Dilemma

According to ML Corbett who is the author of “What Weaknesses Does a Salon Business Have?”.  It seems that this industry struggles with ethical situations.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

A software developer for a technology firm could not quit his job without notice, walk away with that firm’s proprietary information and take a job with its competitor all in the same day. This happens all the time in the salon industry. Stylists routinely take confidential client information and claim the clients as their own. Although some salon owners require employees to sign noncompete contracts, these agreements are difficult and costly to enforce. Ethics problems also arise when employees steal salon products and perform additional services for free and underreport tips.”

In the accounting profession, Certified Public Accountants, are required to take classes in Ethics every year.  This is to ensure that we understand our responsibility to the profession as well as society.  Recently, I took an Ethics course through the State of North Carolina which was presented by Dr. Cal Christian, CPA, PhD.  In the course work he discussed John Maxwell’s 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth and the Law of the Ladder is one that I wanted to expand on.

The Law of the Ladder, states that we must first have a good foundation in which to ensure that as we climb the ladder we don’t topple over.  That may seem simple enough but ethics is more than just right and wrong.  Dr. Christian states, “the issue isn’t about knowing more, but doing more with what we know”.  I found this thought provoking because when it comes to ethics there can be a lot of grey area.  Most often when we talk about ethics in business we think about the cashier that is taking money from the register, or the accountant that is being creative with the financial statements.  These are the black and white issues.  What I am concerned with are those grey areas, particularly the grey areas that salon owners struggle with.

Years ago, I was in a precarious situation.  One of my co-workers, that handled the payroll, was sharing privacy information with the other employees.  I could have ignored the situation, but I took it to our supervisor because I knew it could cost him his job if this got out of hand.  The next day, he was packing up his belongings because in his attempt to fix the situation he was asked to resign.  He did so voluntarily and based on his example, I also resigned.

According to Dr. Christian, our supervisor displayed “Ethical Courage” because he was willing to pay the price for taking an ethical stand.  He provided me with “Ethical Leadership” and demonstrated that when you believe something inappropriate is taking place, you must try to do something about it, regardless of the personal cost.

This grey area is the place where most people get in trouble.  As a salon owner, review ethical topics with your employees on a regular basis, discuss how you would like certain issues handled and let the employees do some role playing on these topics.  This is a fun way to get employees involved and help them understand how you want them to respond in different situations.  Create a “Code of Ethics” manual, provide copies to all employees and have them sign a document that they have read it.  Making this a part of the evaluation system will also reinforce the importance you are placing on ethical decisions.  Remind them that one day they might own a salon and then they will be in the same position.  It’s all about charma!

Categories: Life Discussion

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