Businesses have power through their ability to spend vast amounts of money. They have the ability to enhance or change situations that the common individual does not. As organisations affect many people, they have obligations to their employees, consumers, community and the world. They have a responsibility to conduct business in a way that is not harmful and which positively benefits as many people as possible and themselves. Although this sounds simple, it is easier said than done! as there will always be a conflict of interest between various groups of people. Any decisions made by businesses need to be made with an informed awareness of the specific situation and then act according to some sort of system of principals which is Business Ethics.
What is Business Ethics?
Business ethics is exactly the same as normal ethics, and that is knowing what is right or wrong, and learning what is right and what is wrong in a business environment. Then doing the right thing, but the right thing is not as straightforward as explained in many business ethics books. Most ethical dilemmas in the workplace are not simply a matter of Should she steal from him? or Should he lie to his boss? Businesses cannot function without ethics, why? Society dictates a set of rules and conformities and seeing as all businesses strive after common goals it means that these goals can only be achieved on the basis of standards, values and morals in society. It can be assumed that business life has to be called 'moral' as well. As in society, standards and values are spontaneously formed once people come together and start 'behaving', likewise, business life becomes exactly the same and that's when morals come into effect, and when businesses decide on implicit or explicit ways to achieve certain goals and then are agreed on. Businesses in general are working on the basis of an ethics that settles different interests. The standards and values within companies can be characterised as mutual respect. In this respect it is in everyone's interest, and is considering people as an end in themselves, not as a means, reciprocity and fairness. This ethics is passed down and filtered to a group of stakeholders who have an interest in the company. These parties usually are: personnel, customers, suppliers, subcontractors, shareholders, society and those who speak on behalf of the environment and future generations Many ethicists say there's always a right thing to do based on moral principle, and others believe the right thing to do depends on the situation, ultimately it's up to the individual on what they do and on what they believe to be the right thing is. Sometimes the right thing is not necessarily the best thing to do. Many philosophers consider ethics to be the science of conduct. Twin Cities consultants Doug Wallace and John Pekel (of the Twin Cities-based Fulcrum Group) explain that ethics includes the fundamental ground rules by which we live our lives. Many professionals in ethics say that new ethical beliefs are state of the art legal matters, and that what becomes an ethical issue of today is then later made into a law. Values that say how we should behave are said to be moral values, values such as respect, honesty, fairness, responsibility, etc. Statements about how these values should be implemented are sometimes called moral or ethical principles. The concept of business ethics has been seen to mean various things to different people, but usually it's knowing what is right or wrong in the workplace and doing what's right in regard to effects of products, services and relationships with stakeholders. Wallace and Pekel say that attention to business ethics is critical during times of fundamental change, times much like those faced now by businesses, both non-profit and for-profit. In times of fundamental change, values that were previously taken for granted are now strongly questioned. Many of these values are no longer followed.
Therefore, there are no clear morals to guide today's leaders through difficult problems about what is right or wrong, just vague perceptions of what should and has already been done. A focal point on ethics in the workplace shows and alerts leaders and staff on how they should act. An attention to ethics in the workplaces helps ensure that when leaders and managers are struggling in times of crises and confusion, they retain a strong moral focus. However, attention to business ethics provides numerous other benefits, as well. Note that many people believe that business ethics, with its continuing focus on doing the right thing, only asserts the obvious be good, don't lie,, and so these people don't take business ethics seriously. For many people, these principles can go right out the door during times of stress. Business ethics can be a strong preventative medicine.