Ethics refer to social system behavior. Every society has standards or codes that individuals are expected to follow. Individuals who follow the code are said to be ethical. Consequently, due to diverse ethical codes conflicts are inevitable because the parties have different moral rules. Ethical issues are diverse in a business environment. For example, they involve how the business treats its customers, employees, suppliers, and its social responsibility in society (Ethical Issues in Business, n.d.). The recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico raised the issue of ethics in business as the leakage affected many people profoundly. On the other hand, morals refer to personal character. Morals are based on right or wrong and vary from one society to another. Morals are personal and individuals learn them from various sources such as religion, society, or parents. For example, abortion and gay sexual orientation may be morally wrong to some people, and to others the practices are acceptable.
Personal ethics refer to an individual’s code of behavior, their perception of what is wrong and right, and each person has their own personal ethics code. Personal ethics guide a person in decision-making, especially in a business environment. Sometimes an individual will find that some decisions conflict with their personal beliefs. In this case, an individual has to use ethical reasoning to make a decision. Many people have walked away from their jobs because they felt that their personal ethics could not allow them to work in an environment that engages in unethical behavior while others have lost jobs because they failed to behave properly and may be engaged in behaviors such as bribery or theft. The common ethical issues in the business environment for individuals are personal use of organizational supplies, faking or prolonged leaves, using office phones for private calls, or spending time on social networks during office hours. These practices may lead the company to incur losses.
On the other hand, business ethics concern the behavior of the management in terms of rightness or wrongness (Buchholtz & Carroll, 2008). These are the expected business practices that an organization emphasizes. Business ethics can either be written down or unwritten because each organization is unique and thus can formulate its own code of ethics. A business has to make decisions that are ethical because they have far-reaching ramifications. Business ethics can be looked at from two perspectives- shareholders in whom the business focuses on making profits for investors or the stakeholders. From the stakeholders’ perspective, a business has to ensure that its business ethics are in line with the expectations of the stakeholders. Examples of stakeholders are financiers, suppliers, government, community, and so forth. It is also important to note that companies that comply with the expected behavior of the stakeholders usually do well in business than those that only care about the welfare of the shareholders. Businesses achieve success by making ethical decisions that earn the trust of the stakeholders which leads to increased sales especially from customers (Ferell, O, Fraedrich & Ferell, L, 2006).
Business ethics are important as they help in running businesses effectively. Business behavior affects more than just the business thus the standards of people at work are important. This is because they affect one’s or the company’s reputation and may affect the society’s or national reputation as well. For example, Chinese reputation has been affected negatively because some of its export goods such as toys and formula milk have been found to contain harmful toxins. The behavior of the people within those organizations has affected the way China as a country is viewed thus a corporate’s behavior may make the whole country suffer. This is because due to globalization and increased transparency in business, such scandals are made known and people may shun products from an unethical organization or the entire country as well.
Buchholtz, A.K., & Carroll, A.B., (2008). Business and Society: Ethics and Stakeholder Management. Connecticut: Cengage Learning.
Ethical issues in business.(n.d.).
Ferell, O., Fraedrich, J., & Ferell, L., (2006). Business ethics: ethical decision making and cases. Connecticut: Cengage Learning.