The Fine Art of Business Ethics

Business ethics in its most basic form is the evaluation of business decisions according to judgments and moral concepts. Business ethics can be rated in a narrow field, such as how honest a particular company should be with their customers. Do they tell customers that the $150.00 dollar toy only cost $1.00 to produce? There is also a wider study about the ethics of a business, such as employee rights. Do they tell their employee to take their fifteen minute break every four hours no matter what, when in the past 20 years no one has ever taken a break and the employees do not know they are legally entitled to them? In addition, there is an even wider study regarding the ethics of a business and the environment. Do they buy the land they desire and build regardless if it will displace 3000 people, or ruin a natural animal habitat?

Most business conflicts between the company and its community, customers or employees are typically conflicts that have emerged from ethical issues. Tough issues in relation to ethical practices create an ultra-thin line for CEO, presidents and high ranking management to walk, as they balance the practical against the ideal. The business needs to make some sort of reasonable profit, the world wants to save the trees, the consumers do not want to be cheated and the employees want a safe job. Adding to the complicated thin line are the global environmental issues as well as the government’s involvement regarding potential criminal behaviors. Quite possibly the hardest area to clear up business related ethical problems is for the multi-national companies, with corporate headquarters in multiple nations with very different operating, legal and moral standards. Does the company maintain a constant standard of ethical practices or conduct business under the “when in Rome” theory?

When it comes to learning business ethics, or teaching the leaders of tomorrow the fine art of ethics, some of it is still unchartered territory. With the thoughts of some that, conduct and morals are taught in the home to young children and cannot be undone; it creates a vast field of uneasiness when it turns into business. With the fact that most businesses are somewhat concerned about their public image and always concerned with losing profits, the basic areas of business ethics are commonly practiced in some form.

Typically, to run a business with some ethical practices they will eliminate any actions that reflects badly on the reputation of the company, avoid practicing business in ways that have the potential of civil law suits and verify all business-related functions stay on the legal side of criminal acts. In addition, while this may not cover every ethical issue in business it is a good starting point.