Business ethics is an extensive study of suitable business policies and practices. In other words, it is a set of rules, principles, beliefs. They allow an organization to engage in the business in a morally correct manner. Ethics in business includes multiple key aspects: corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, bribery, etc. These ethics set the standard for a company. It helps to understand what is right or wrong in their conduct and decision-making process. Corporate ethics usually goes hand in hand with the internal values of the organization. Modern organizations need to clearly understand “what are the benefits of business ethics” towards organizational success.
Ethical Principles in business
Business ethics is a diverse area of study. Every organization should strive to implement ethical behaviors in the workplace in the pursuit of success.
Trustworthiness is one of the key ethical principles that every business should practice.
This involves being transparent and honest in operations, actions, and communications.
Building this ethic will benefit the company in multiple ways. Customers will build confidence in ethical business. They will start to appreciate their openness.
Customers will be able to understand how the company operates and to what extent it practices corporate ethics. Moreover, employees will also tend to build confidence and trust in the organization they work for.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate social responsibility is the role of business towards the well-being of the wider community and society.
In other words, modern companies should not only think of profit maximization and product development. They should see how to leverage values to enhance social and economic impacts on society. Also, they need to reduce the negative impact on the environment.
Being a socially responsible company helps to enhance the company image by building the brand name. Social responsibility will allow the company employees to leverage resources.
Furthermore, effective corporate social responsibility initiatives will drive employee morale whilst leading to higher productivity.
Coca-cola company is one of the top companies to implement effective corporate social responsibility programs. The 5×20 program aims to employ five million women in developing countries by 2020.
It targets women from both the bottling and distribution sectors. The objective of this CSR program is to reduce female unemployment. They also focus on providing benefits to women in the wider community.
Showing respect to the employees, customers, and key stakeholders is the basis of the respect factor. The company should be willing to provide compensation and apologies for any drawbacks.
Failing to show respect will dissatisfy customers as well as employees. This will lead to a lower business reputation and a decline in engagement with the business. Furthermore, it will reduce employee motivation and morale whilst increasing employee turnover.
- Integrity and fairness
Integrity and fairness are key characteristics of proper ethical standards. This mainly refers to adhering to laws and regulations at the local, state, federal levels.
An organization following integrity will treat its employees and customers fairly. Moreover, they will be transparent and communicate openly.
Furthermore, the organization can showcase fair dealings with external stakeholders like suppliers, distributors, etc. Fairness establishes the moral standards that allow the organization to make decisions that affect others.
When an organization is engaged in business, it deals with a large number of human beings. Any organization needs to be flexible to understand both customer’s and employees’ issues and struggles.
The company needs to show empathy towards its stakeholders. They should also help them find solutions to their issues.
Showing a sense of caring will motivate employees to contribute better to the organization. It will positively affect how internal and external stakeholders see the business as well.
Compliance is the company’s ability to conform to rules and regulations set by the government. Ethical compliance supports organizations to build a conducive working environment that abides by laws and regulations. This ethical business practice will help the organization to minimize costs associated with lawsuits and fines.
Ethical issues in business
Ethical issues in business consist of a range of aspects embedded in the ethical framework of the organization. Basic ethical issues in a business can be as follows.
- Harassment and discrimination
Sexual harassment is one of the key ethical issues. Moreover, discrimination based on race, ethnicity, cultural orientation, unequal pay are common practices in businesses.
In the United States, these types of discrimination are strictly prohibited under federal and state laws.
This is evident in the research done by the National Conference for Community and Justice. It showed that more than 70% of Americans admit harassment and discrimination in their workplaces.
- Health and Safety
As stated in research, every employee has the right to work in a safe working environment. There are a large number of incidents reported on this ethical issue.
Most are due to the complete negligence of employers on the health and safety measures of employees. Some of the most violated measures in the U.S were as follows.
- Fall protection where there were prominent sides and edges which were unprotected.
- Hazard communication due to unclassified poisonous chemicals to humans
- Lack of proper respiratory protection measures for employees
- Accounting Practices
Any business should adhere to accurate and truthful accounting practices. One of the most common issues is inaccurate bookkeeping practices in organizations. A well-known example is the Enron corporate scandal.
This case drew attention due to inaccurate reporting of the company’s financial statements for many years. This violation of ethics severely affected stockholder prices. Moreover, public shareholders also lost more than $25 billion.
- Non-Disclosure and Corporate Espionage
This refers to unethical and illegal methods of obtaining important and confidential corporate information. This includes obtaining intellectual property without permission to use it to obtain a competitive advantage.
Other targets of corporate espionage are financial information, client data, trade secrets, confidential marketing information, etc.
Benefits of Business Ethics
Why are ethics important in the workplace? It is one of the most common questions we all have.
Business ethics is a crucial factor that directly affects the long-term and short-term profitability of the company. The reputation of the company is vital in deciding whether that company is worth investing in or not.
Modern organizations need to understand the significance of business ethics. This is because the field of ethical investments is growing at a fast pace. At present, investors are looking out for ethically operating organizations to invest in.
This has made modern organizations treat business ethics as a significant part of the company’s long-term strategy. Some of the key benefits of business ethics are as follows.
- Build customer loyalty
Customers are the most important stakeholder in any business. A loyal customer base is a key to the growth of the business.
Organizations need to align their corporate behaviors with good ethical practices.
This will help the organization to develop a better brand image. Furthermore, a strong brand image, in turn, will help to attract new customers whilst retaining loyal customers.
- Improves business reputation
Organizations well known to act ethically will definitely have a stronger reputation than ordinary companies. It is one of the key benefits of business ethics.
The organization will grow immensely when it is ethical in the way the business operates. Successful treatment of employees, customers, stakeholders will affect business growth. In addition, companies also need to focus on social media ethics to enhance their reputation.
- Retain employees
As per the research findings, it is understood that companies that practice unethical behaviors have high employee turnover rates.
When a company treats the employees fairly, the satisfaction levels and morale of employees will increase. Moreover, they will have trust and confidence in the company.
This is because they know that the company is doing the right thing the right way. High employee retention will help the organization to reduce costs whilst retaining the top talent.
- Establish a positive working environment
Good ethical practices allow employees to develop positive working relationships with their peers and subordinates.
Employees who follow the company’s ethical practices are better team players than individuals just out for themselves. Their immediate superiors can trust them with data and other confidential information.
Employees who fail to adhere to these ethics can lose the chances of career advancements. Moreover, they will lose the trust the company has kept in them as well.
Employee theft is one example of poor ethics. Furthermore, it is also important that the organization’s top management emulate ethical behavior in both their actions and words.
- Enhances the environmental wellbeing
The ethical behavior of an organization will positively impact the environment, community, and overall society.
Corporate social responsibility programs help organizations to operate sustainably. It will also promote long-term sustainable development.
Caring about the wider community and the environment will benefit society by building a better world for a living. This is one of the most important benefits of business ethics in an organization.
- Better team spirit
The employees of the organization need to be well aware of the company’s ethical values. It will build trust and a sense of unity within the organization. Moreover, it will also enhance the productivity and team spirit amongst the employees.
- Avoid legal issues
There can be instances where the management of the company tends to maximize profits through certain unethical behaviors.
The repercussions and penalties for being caught can be serious. It can range from severe fines and sanctions to tarnished brand image. Moreover, the resulting negative brand reputation can cause customer dissatisfaction and long-term damage to brand image.
- Attract more investments
Investors are more likely to invest in organizations with good corporate ethics and morals. They will feel safe to invest as they know that the organization will use it responsibly.
Importance of the code of ethics
A code of ethics is a set of principles developed to support employees of an organization. It will help to conduct business operations with integrity and honesty.
A proper code of ethics may sketch the mission and the core values of the organization. Moreover, it will clearly mention how employees need to resolve issues.
The key ethics based on the values and other standards to which the employee is held will also be clearly mentioned in this document.
Benefits of a code of ethics
A well-written code of ethics will foster a working environment of trust, integrity, and honesty. The organization will be better prepared to face challenges as they have a solid base to stand on. In addition, it will establish strong partnerships with multiple stakeholders inside and outside the industry.
Furthermore, the elimination of harassment and discrimination is a key use of an effective code of ethics. Finally, it will outline how the company can promote positive social change. Through that, the organization can contribute towards a sustainable future.
In summary, business ethics can bring significant benefits to an organization. Practicing good business ethics has become so more important in building a sustainable and profitable business. Some of the benefits of business ethics identified are building customer loyalty, reputation, retaining top talent, enhancing team spirit, etc. Finally, the implementation of good ethical practices will lead the organizations to greater levels of success.