Corporate Ethics: Learn or Unlearn?

Dr. Purushothaman
December 12, 2013

Ethics is no doubt an important business subject for any entrepreneur to study, but it also has a wider application throughout organizations. One man's concept of what is ethical may be completely different from another man's concept, and so it's important to establish a collective set of ethics that represent the entire organization rather than just adopting a piecemeal approach. This can be installed through training, through creating certain policies, although it's important that there are also enforcement mechanisms within the organizations, and that ethics remain a forefront consideration in order to ensure a morally sound approach to doing business.

Ethics can be defined as the method designed for a code of conduct. It is a branch of philosophy that addresses the questions of morality through a set of behavioral guidelines. A workplace being the source of bread and butter for many also satisfies the self-actualization needs. It provides a reason as a standard of living. Hence, by that virtue, business ethics which sustain morality and helps evolution have to be followed at a workplace. Following these ethics in the workplace happen to be a personal choice, a choice that cannot be forced upon but only explained and expected. A workplace is a cluster of individuals, and hence an amalgamation of attitudes and imaginations, which often dilute the existence of ethics. It takes the zeal of an evangelist to imbibe ethics in the workplace force to grow the organization in a holistic way.
Honesty, loyalty and commitment are required to build a conducive work culture in an organization. It enhances the business literacy and helps addressing the problem in a much efficient manner. Although personal ethics differ, they matter in making of the ethical standards of the organization. Because of the difference, every employees needs to be put on one single ethical platform. Right or wrong, good or bad, black or white are the moral questions that only the power of perception of can decide, but they all demand evolution, which finds its root to the ethics in the workplace.

When we talk about business ethics, usually we're speaking about standards of behavior in the workplace as well as with customers and partners. Companies known for high ethical standards usually have an ethical code stating that they treat everyone with dignity, don't present misleading information, and scrupulously follow rules and regulations.
Having a moral compass leads to more effective business practices - whether in building sales, retaining employees, or reducing litigation and regulation costs. For example, people are usually willing to pay premium prices to feel good about the products they buy. Also, companies that follow certain moral codes attract better people - and these people often are willing to work harder with less compensation. It goes without saying that ethical companies are less likely to undergo the costly scrutiny of courts and regulators.
Moral behavior needs to be embedded in a supportive social infrastructure that promotes consistent behavior. For starters, company management can lead by example. A formal incentive structure for adhering to standards also goes a long way in establishing moral behavior. Communicating these standards with all stakeholders is critical, because an organization needs to show its stakeholders that moral behavior is a serious matter, further reinforcing these norms.
The best way to promote ethical behavior is by setting a good personal example. Teaching an employee ethics is not always effective. One can explain and define ethics to an adult, but understanding ethics does not necessarily result in behaving ethically. Personal values and ethical behavior is taught at an early age by parents and educators
Ethics are important not only in business but in all aspects of life because it is an essential part of the foundation on which a civilized society is build. A business or society that lacks ethical principles is bound to fail sooner or later.
To become successful, a business needs to be driven by strong ethical values. The mindset of a businessman creates a mindset for his/her company, which in turn sets the work culture of the business organization. For a business to prosper and maintain its wealth, it ought to be founded on certain ethical principles. A business that is based on ethics can run successfully for long years. Moneymakers who do not heed to ethical values can only earn a short-lived success. To last long in the market, business ethics is essential.
Experts in business management and researchers have endorsed the need for businessmen and company professionals to study ethics. They have asserted the importance of founding business on ethical values and following them. They have urged management professionals to adhere to ethics and accept it as a part of business.

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