In the past decade, concern with the ethical accountability of companies has continued to grow. Consumers increasingly look to support and buy from companies that make ethical decisions. The government has also created new legislation that requires a certain level of ethics and creates encouragement for companies to go as far as to create ethics programs. The idea of “business ethics” is not new, but there is more pressure now than ever before on companies to prove they are making an honest effort to be ethical. This additional pressure on companies can be largely attributed to a change in the neoclassical view of a company as only needing to take care of stockholder interests by creating profits (Wines & Hamilton III, 2009). Today, people view the organization as a complex unit made of up many different groups that must be considered. This new definition of an “ethical corporation” requires not only compliance with the law, but also consideration of the ethical implications of all actions (Epstein & Hanson, 2006; Thornton, 2009). “Ethics are a system of moral principles and behavioral norms intended to express and support an underlying set of values” (Post, Lee, & Sachs, 2002). Following the meanings given by several professional sources, business ethics is defined as the study of moral standards in the context of all business situations (Columbia University, 2008; Knapp, 2001; Crane & Matten, 2007). Because of this change in consumer and regulator concerns, a corporation cannot survive unless it takes care of and strives to respect the interests of all of its stakeholders by applying ethical standards to actions (Post, Lee, & Sachs, 2002).
To do this, a corporation must be accountable beyond basic “guidelines a...
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The Botwinick Prize in Ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2010, from The Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics at Columbia Business School: http://www4.gsb.columbia.edu/leadership/speakerseries/botwinick
Thornton, L. F. (2009, September). Leadership Ethics Training: Why Is Why Is It So Hard to Get It Right? Trainging + Development , 60-61.
Vallabhaneni, S. R. (2008). Corporate Management, Governance, and Ethics Best Practices . Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley.
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