Many people consider corporations to be money-grabbing, blood-sucking machines. Many people assume that their primary focus is to make money, no matter the method in which they do it. Hence, we assume that these businesses can never be ethical socially responsible. However, this might not be true. Let us take a look at the role Business Ethics plays for business and how important it can be.
Business ethics is the study of appropriate business policies and practices regarding potentially controversial subjects. Moreover, it relates to businesses carrying out socially acceptable and responsible practices. These socially acceptable and responsible practices can be termed s ethical business practices. However, ethics in corporations can tend to be very subjective. Different people have different moral compasses, and may not agree on right and wrong. Hence, that is where the law comes in. Corporations need only follow the law in most cases to make sure their practices are ethical. However, the problem arises where the situation at hand is not defined by law. So, in that case, the organization must use their knowledge of ethics and morality to make decisions.
Business Ethics goes beyond the realms of right and wrong. it attempts to reconcile what companies must do legally versus maintaining a competitive advantage over other businesses. Hence, this means balancing their drive for profit with adhering laws and acting ethically.
Firms display business ethics in several ways. While most of it revolves around following the law, many firms go out of their way to make sure they practice ethics. The biggest consideration for ethics comes when advertising. Businesses have to keep in mind multi-cultural values and ethics when advertising. Moreover, they must consider the age-group that will be viewing their ads, since their advertisement might not be suitable for children. Moreover, if an organization IS targeting children for their ads, there are certain codes of ethics they must follow then as well. Let’s look at a few examples.
Some advertisements tend to show darker skin color in a negative light. These kinds of ads are offensive to people with darker skin. Hence, organizations must find other ways to deliver their messages. For example, a recent Pakistani clothing brand Sana Safinaz faced backlash for their use of Africans in their unrelated clothing ad. This ad was culturally offensive and was deemed racist by many viewers. Every advertisement is made with the end viewer in mind. If the ad is for children, it should avoid using any swear words or sexual content. Similarly, there are plenty of other ethical considerations to keep in mind while advertising, differing among cultures, genders, and age-groups. Hence, businesses must make sure they are outlaying ethical business practices, keeping in mind everyone’s interest.
The importance of business ethics can not be overlooked. Firstly, employees will always want to work for an ethical company. As soon as the company makes an employee feel their morality is being compromised, it may spell trouble. Moreover, employees make better decisions in less time with business ethics acting as a guide; this increases productivity and overall employee motivation. When employees complete work in a way that is based on honesty and integrity, the whole organization benefits.
The management team sets the tone for how the entire company runs on a day-to-day basis. When the prevailing management philosophy is based on ethical practices and behavior, leaders within an organization can direct employees by example and guide them in making decisions that are not only beneficial to them as individuals, but also to the organization as a whole.
Lastly, Ethical Businesses have a good reputation in the market. This makes it easier for them to attract customers. Moreover, suppliers and other businesses are more likely to do business with them since they know the business does not practice unethical behavior. This not only enhances brand image but also leads to higher profits.
Do you think businesses can be ethical? Let us know in the comments below!