Ethical Behavior in Business

Ethics in business is not a new trend. In fact, it is already present for over four thousand years now. With the changing trends in the business world, the society is getting more concerned about the corporate responsibility of businesses. Debates have also been conducted focusing on the social issue of poverty among the workers and the corresponding responsibility of the employers about the issue. Even in the ancient times, issues on ethics in business can be observed just like in the teachings of Aristotle about the harmful effects of the gaps that exist between the economical utilization of goods and the profit making objective of many merchants. At present, the rise of the concept of corporate social responsibility among the business sector constitutes corporate initiatives of integrating several ethical aspects such as establishment of codes of conduct, environment management system measures, health and safety in the workplace, compliance to financial reporting standards, certifications schemes, company partnerships with community groups, and support for projects that are aimed for community development.

There are several factors for the demand of the society for business ethics as a corporate responsibility. Some of these include the changing social role of corporate entities, globalization, developments in technology, and moral authority democratization. In the past, the responsibility or regulating all aspects of social life rests in the hands of the government. However, with the evolution of time, some duties are being moved from the government to the other sectors of the society including the individuals, the social groups, and the business sector. With this trend, corporate entities are required to establish their own self-regulation policies especially that the government has recognized the fact that fully controlling the business sector is not always an efficient way of influencing corporate behavior. Increased pressure is put on the business sector about the possible consequences of their policies on the society.

Globalization is another driving factor for the society’s demand of business ethics among the business sector. Currently, many businesses enter the international market and corporations tend to invest worldwide since this gives them more opportunities to grow. However, with the trend of entering in different foreign markets, there are complex things to consider including ethics. Customs and traditions in foreign lands differ from each other and some business practices that may be acceptable to one nation may not be accepted in the same sense in another. Businesses are often expected to adapt with the customs and values of the foreign land that they are trying to penetrate. Pressure on company’s corporate social responsibility is high since there is still no firm and effective supervision governing the international business behavior.

Developments in technology seem to be a great source of questions of morality. Technology at the current time is considered advanced and it provides a way for people to experience things that are thought to be impossible before. Technological development brings convenience to the society and contributes to the establishment of a kind of life that is better than before. Ethics come to picture as the society examines the real consequences of technology to the way of life. The effect of technology to the world is complex and the government has not enough capacity to handle the issues accompanying it which makes it necessary for the business sector to take actions on whatever consequences their own technology may bring.

In the past, moral authority often rests among a few groups in the society including the Church, the government, and the theorists. At present, the opinions of the mentioned authorities are now considered as a regular opinion which can be aligned with the opinions of a regular entity. The power and control they once had over judging and handling ethical issues has faded and now there is a democratization of moral authority. This again puts pressure on the business sector to manage their ethical affairs seriously since everyone seem to have the authority to criticize their business practices are compliance to ethical standards. Businesses are compelled to open their policies to the public when questioned about their business ethics. Moreover, with the intrusion of media, the businesses are more exposed to public which makes them susceptible to any ethical criticism.

The relationship of a business to its stakeholders is the primary concern of business ethics. Stakeholders may include all the entities that have interest on a company or are influenced by the company such as the shareholders, the customers, the employees, suppliers, competitors, the government, and others. Seeking business strategies that will consider the interest of all the stakeholders is not an easy task for a company but an important mission of every manager and all the high ranking company officials.

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