Ethical and Moral Decisions in Business

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Ethical and Moral Decisions in Business

Ethics alone tend to be defined as a moral code of conduct that is

perceived to be the right thing to do. An ethical decision means doing

what is right, as apposed to assessing the most profitable course of


In the past, free market ideology was that corporations were kept

responsible to customers, shareholders, workers and society by

customer and investor behavior, seen in share price. Millions of

individual “voters” in the market place ensured they behaved. “Bad”

corporations were punished by selling. “Good” corporations were

rewarded by buying. “Market forces will sort it all out”. This

ideology weakened the idea of business ethics and accountability as

the most profitable and secure were the best for investment and how

they held and maintained this position wasn’t a consideration.

Today, the increasing involvement of the media in business affairs has

resulted in members of the public being more informed and less

tolerant of what they consider to be immoral behaviour. The amount of

information available to the general public has increased due to the

actions of pressure groups and easy access through evolving

technology. This trend has meant that businesses have been reluctant

to indulge in behaviour that may be considered unethical. Businesses

in vast numbers are joining the Institute of Business Ethics, which

encourages an ethical approach to wealth creation. One approach to

this has been through the introduction of ethical codes of practice.

An ethical code states the ways in which a business should behave when

faced with decisions that have a moral or ethical dimension. Comm...

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the attentions of the media and pressure groups might reveal the

superficial nature of their principles. This would be a public

relations nightmare, causing substantial damage to the business

reputation and profits.

So what is going to happen next in business ethics? How can

corporations use business ethics to restore confidence and protect

themselves against tomorrow’s headlines? What will be the new “Gold

Standard” for business ethics and corporate governance? How much

further than legal minimum requirements for business ethics should

corporations go to ensure sustainable success? Whatever happens it

will all just be the next image that is in-keeping with public

requirements and profit will always remain the driving force behind

business. Economies and society simply wouldn’t survive any other way.
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