As each corporate gift-giving season approaches, choosing what to give can be difficult when you’re trying to be mindful of the bounds of business gift giving ethics at the same time.
Ensuring ethical corporate gifts outside of the holiday seasons could be even more confusing, and thus require extra care and attention to details you would not otherwise have to worry about when giving gifts to friends and family.
There would be questions to be asked and checkboxes to be ticked whenever gifts of value change hands in the corporate world. Apart from the cultural sensitivities, deciding the appropriate gift items you can give, how expensive the gifts can be, and when you should give them are ethical matters in corporate gifting worth considering for the gifts not to be misconstrued as a form of bribery.
Consider The Expectation
The expectation when giving business gifts often plays a big part in determining if a gift is in fact just a gift.
Gifts exchanged in the spirit of reciprocity are generally acceptable. There is no doubt that the practice of giving and accepting gifts have an important role in fostering business relationships. The practice has existed since time immemorial.
Corporate gifting is an opportunity to express mutual appreciation for the years of hard work and support between companies. The gifting of edible corporate gifts during the Christmas holiday season aptly illustrates this.
It is in cases when a favor of some sort is expected in return that the gift is no longer considered a gift. Depending on the nature of the gift and the circumstances in which it’s given, it may not just be unethical it could even be unlawful.
Possible Limit to Value of Gifts
Gifting should be about expressing gratitude and not gaining profits. That is why the exchanges of edible gifts between companies work so well during the holiday seasons.
It is when lavish business gifts to specific individuals are involved that the situation could potentially become sticky.
The rules and laws that govern the value limit within which gifts qualify as gifts, or the tax-deductibility of gifts, vary from country to country. The article is in no position to discuss the various rules and limitations that exist. But it’s something to be mindful of and the appropriate professionals should be consulted in such matters.
Sometimes giving something else other than gift items can be a good option. There are various alternative corporate gifts that are activity-based which you can consider to switch things up a little!
Consider The Appropriate Types of Gift
Whether you want to celebrate a festivity or show generosity for the upcoming holidays, corporate gifting to businesses can be very sensitive. As such it is best to remain ethical by sticking to the customs and norms of your industry in your locality.
You’d want your gifts to be creative and relevant to the occasion at the same time. But any gift that’s too personal that may be misconstrued as a bribe is best avoided.
Commemorative pens, flowers stand, a box of mooncakes, or packets of artisanal teas – these are generally acceptable and they make great corporate gifts for the occasion!
Gifting At The Right Time
As there is a fine line between gifts given as a token of appreciation and one that could be perceived as a bribe, the timing then becomes critical.
Although this linked article has delved into the importance of corporate gifting, one cannot ignore that certain timings of giving gifts can seem highly inappropriate.
The gifting of food items in the run-up to the Christmas holiday would be fine, but an expensive gift to personnel in a position of influence before a contract tender will be highly suspect!
When considering giving gifts, stick to the holiday seasons or corporate event celebrations, not to mention the delicious treats, and you should do just fine.
Ethical Corporate Gifts For The Holidays
Although the holiday seasons may vary from country to country and are largely dependent on their cultural settings, the end-of-year Christmas and New Year festivity are pretty much universally celebrated.
As such, it is the perfect time to send corporate gifts for the holiday and show your corporate partners how much they are appreciated. Given that the considerations discussed above still apply, the giving of gifts between companies is widely practiced and generally expected.
Gifts such as drinks and edible corporate gifts are commonly the safest choices you can rely on and your best bet that they will be well-liked by the recipients.
In Asian countries, for example, the Lunar New Year and Mid-Autumn Festivals are two other popular festivities when corporate gifting is commonly practiced. It is a time when creative and unique gifts are put together in order to stand out from the competition.
Aside from drinks and edible business gifts, there are many other creative corporate gift ideas that you can put together for your clients.
Establish Clear Gift Policies
Companies and businesses can help make the distinctions clear for their employees and executives by establishing clear policies for giving and receiving gifts. This is an important step that could help steer the business gifting activities clear from risky territories.
It is not uncommon to find government-related entities having a strictly no-gift policy for obvious reasons considering their roles and obligations. Such a “zero tolerance” approach protects from the appearance of impropriety and actually makes dealings relatively straightforward.
With properly communicated limits and boundaries, employees can carry out their duties in more professional conduct. This also sets the tone for healthier working relationships.
Discretion Is The Better Part Of Valor
It is always better to avoid compromising situations than to confront one. Whenever in doubt, always consult with your CPA or lawyer to stay on the safe side.