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Monday, 24 December 2012


What are business ethics?

Ethics are moral guidelines which govern good behaviour

Two quotes on business ethics

So behaving ethically is doing what is morally right

Behaving ethically in business is widely regarded as good business practice.  To provide you with a couple of quotes:
Ethical principles and standards in business:
  • Define acceptable conduct in business
  • Should underpin how management make decisions
An important distinction to remember is that behaving ethically is not quite the same thing as behaving lawfully:
  • Ethics are about what is right and what is wrong
  • Law is about what is lawful and what is unlawful
An ethical decision is one that is both legal and meets the shared ethical standards of the community

Businesses face ethical issues and decisions almost every day – in some industries the issues are very significant.  For example:
Should businesses profit from problem gambling?
Should supermarkets sell lager cheaper than bottled water?
Is ethical shopping a luxury we can’t afford?
You will probably note the link between business ethics and corporate social responsibility (CSR).  The two concepts are closely linked:
  • A socially responsible firm should be an ethical firm
  • An ethical firm should be socially responsible
However there is also a distinction between the two:
  • CSR is about responsibility to all stakeholders and not just shareholders
  • Ethics is about morally correct behaviour
How do businesses ensure that its directors, managers and employees act ethically?

A common approach is to implement a code of practice. Ethical codes are increasingly popular – particularly with larger businesses and cover areas such as:
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Dealings with customers and supply chain
  • Environmental policy & actions
  • Rules for personal and corporate integrity

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