A pharmacy in the tiny Canadian village of Baddeck, Nova Scotia has big lessons in business ethics to share.

Pharmacist and owner of Stone's Pharmasave, Graham MacKenzie, recently decided to stop selling homeopathic remedies because he couldn't personally find any scientific evidence that these remedies worked, according to CBC News. He stopped selling 15-20 items, which he says does not affect his store's bottom line.

This is not the first time MacKenzie has made a business decision with his conscience. Back in 2014, he decided to stop selling sugary drinks like soda, juice and vitamin water in his pharmacy.

Whether or not you believe in the effectiveness of homeopathy or your thoughts on sugary drinks, you have to admire MacKenzie for doing what he believes is right for his customers. Too often, headlines about business ethics are negative. Rarely do we hear about a businessperson choosing to do what they believe is right rather than what is profitable.

I've had my own experience with dropping products due to lack of scientific evidence of their effectiveness. My company sells instant drug and general health testing kits and we get a lot of offers to sell various testing kits that make a lot of promises. We always do our due diligence in checking out the claims the manufacturers make.

If we can't find any concrete evidence backing the claims, we don't carry the product. Simple as that.

When making an ethical decision about whether you should drop a certain product from your inventory, ask yourself these three questions:

1. Will dropping this product put you out of business?

As a businessperson, you have to think about business first.

It's easy for a pharmacist to drop sugary drinks because those are peripheral products for that type of business. However, sugary drinks might be the lifeblood of a neighborhood convenience store, so that business would not be able to drop them in the name of customer health.

And it shouldn't. If dropping a product that is freely available everywhere would put you out of business, then you should keep selling it without guilt. Your business's survival has to be at the top of your priority list, especially when it comes to products that people could obtain virtually anywhere.

2. Is there evidence (or a lack thereof) to support your decision?

Choosing not to carry certain products theoretically should be based on some kind of logical reasoning. For MacKenzie, it was the numerous scientific studies that say people should cut as much processed sugar out of their diets as possible and the lack of scientific evidence for homeopathy being an effective medical practice.

If you're going to make a big decision that could affect your business's bottom line, do your research. Base the decision on solid evidence so that you can back up your decision to drop a product (or not drop it if there is a public outcry saying you should drop it).

You should be able to defend the decision you make, regardless of whether you're actually forced to do so.

3. Why are you really doing this?

Would you legitimately be doing something wrong if continued carrying this product? There's a difference between doing something because you really believe in it, because it would benefit your customers and community, because it doesn't fit with your corporate culture, and because you feel pressured to do it by outside forces.

MacKenzie dropped the products he did because he believed he was doing right by his customers. Many businesses in the U.S. have recently dropped sales of certain types of firearms or products related to them. While some of these businesses likely did it because they believed it was right, others may have caved to perceived pressure. In other words, they thought it'd be better for their companies's bottom lines to drop those products.

That's perfectly acceptable. There's really no wrong reason to drop a product that you don't want to keep selling. You should know why you're dropping it, and be able to justify your decision to yourself and anyone who inquires about it.

Published on: Jun 25, 2018
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