Business courtesies are gifts, favors and other benefits given to or received from those with whom an organization does business. Exchanging business courtesies is a common way for organizations to build good relationships with business partners. However, the practice can have negative consequences for an organization and for business relationships if it is not handled correctly.
Organizations work to establish good reputations that are based on the merits of their products and services. They must ensure that any exchange of business courtesies is not an attempt to gain an unfair business advantage or otherwise improperly influence a business decision, and cannot be perceived as such. On top of raising ethical concerns, inappropriate business courtesies may also be illegal if they can be considered bribes or kickbacks.
Organizations must ensure that whenever their employees give or receive them, business courtesies are —
- Of nominal value;
- Offered to all who are similarly situated (e.g., all conference attendees or all employees on a team);
- Not tied to any expectations for reciprocal gifts or favors of any kind;
- Offered infrequently; and
- Not always offered to or by the same person or organization.
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