Business Ethics

2108 Words Jun 22nd, 2009 9 Pages
Business Ethics
"Like Nailing Jell-O to the Wall"

What are ethics?

A simple definition for "ethics" is those standards or morals a person sets for himself or herself regarding what is good and bad and right and wrong. If something is "ethical", it does not necessarily mean that it is legal, and vice-versa. This is partially because ethics are "subjective" – that is, each person's ethics are unique to that individual. For example, Sally, who works at Becker's, may give a carton of milk to a young mother with a baby who has no money for food. Though Sally believes this action is ethical, it is not legal. Another employee may not see Sally's action as ethical.

Where do ethics come from?

The most common factors that form a person's
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Arguments Against Business Ethics

Ultimately, businesses exist to make a profit for their owners and shareholders. In most cases, ethical behaviour adds expenses to the business, reducing profits. Profits are a good thing – they ensure that people have jobs. The smaller the profits, the fewer income tax dollars are paid, which would hurt government programs.

The government takes care of ensuring that businesses do things in an ethical way. No other forms of business ethics are required.

Arguments for business ethics

Business, like government, is a system that affects not only its managers and employees, but all members of the community. Many business decisions affect the lives of people in important ways. If businesses operate in unethical ways, this can contribute to people getting sick (as a result of pollution or defective products); or consumers could get taken advantage of (through false advertising).

The Harvard Business Review suggests that well over three-quarters of businesses are trying to build ethics into their organizations. Many business managers believe that, though more costly in the short run, ethical behaviour is profitable in the long run as customers and government regulators will appreciate it. This will ultimately result in higher profits.

Businesses earn huge profits from members of the community – they owe it to the communities to put something back through
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