I believe that business ethics should demand that we consider what our employees need for pay, not just what others are paying for similar work. In saying this, I realize that I am walking into a mine-field and going against accepted business practice. However, as business owners and managers we should never view ourselves as being free from moral restrictions and demands. The phrase, “It’s just business,” should never be used to excuse behavior that we would not engage in with our family or friends. The added consideration of addressing what our employee needs is both difficult and potentially divisive, and I am not suggesting that the needs of the employee be a factor in how little we can pay, but rather in how much more we should pay than the standard. I am aware that if you don’t like this concept, you have the majority of business men and women on your side, but those who insist on strong moral ethics are seldom in the majority
My suggested pay practice will certainly not get the business owner rich, at least in the short-run. Nevertheless, pure self-interest should not be our primary motivator. My experience as a business owner in a position to watch many other businesses over a 35 year period tells me that paying employees both what they are worth and what they need will pay off in the long-term success of the business. But even if this were not true, we have an obligation to those we associate with to treat them with respect and dignity regardless of the effect on us. The appalling practices of many businesses regarding insufficient pay may make businesses look profitable today, but the long term demoralization of employees and its effect on dividing employers from employees will do great damage to the future of our country.