Business ethics is important in today's business environment in that global consumers take a great interest in the activities and behaviours of corporations. This article looks briefly at what business ethics is, as well as some sources of business ethics articles which might be of interest.
What is business?
A business is an organisation engaged in a trade of goods or services to consumers.
There are many varieties of business, from small local enterprises to huge multinational corporations. What is ethics?
Ethics refers to behaviour, and is an umbrella term for “right and wrong” behaviour. "Ethical” behaviour has been described as “doing the right thing even when no one is watching…” and is synonymous with ideas such as morality, conscience and respect for others. What is business ethics?
Business ethics is the concept of right and wrong behaviour at a corporate level.
It is the idea that businesses themselves should consider policies and strategies in terms of whether they are ethical or not.
“Right and wrong” are subjective terms and dependent on perspective, for example in a business takeover situation (particularly a hostile one), the boundaries between ethical and unethical behaviour can grow indistinct and ethics issues can arise. More recently, the company ethics of “News of the World” have been thrown into question regarding the questionable ethical business practices of phone hacking, no doubt to form business ethics case studies for years to come. However, due to the often prevailing subjectivity of situations, it is difficult to apply strict rules regarding ethics in the workplace and in the U.K., most businesses publish Ethical Guidelines to shape their behaviours rather than hard regulation (e.g. codes of conduct). Good business ethics is nonetheless becoming an important concern to consumers and so managing business ethics, and resolving business ethics issues, becomes an ever higher priority for the boards of companies.
Ethical guidelines and ethics articles
The CIMA code of ethics is an excellent example of an ethical policy and can be downloaded from Cimaglobal.com. CIMA provides good business ethics examples through its fundamental principles:
- Professional competence and due care,
- and professional behaviour. Additional business ethics articles can be found from Business Ethics Quarterly, the Journal of Business Ethics and another good source is Helleniccomserve.com(Archive business ethics) for an archive of many free business articles. Final word To conclude, ethics and ethical practices are important to businesses (not out of a sense of altruism, but in response to consumer interest in these issues) in the modern world and there is a plethora of literature and information available on business ethics on the web, in journals and even occasionally in the papers themselves.