A business person is faced with constant decisions that are scrutinized for morality. Morals have to do with social definitions of what is right and what is wrong, and in the business world, it is imperative that leaders and decision makers consider whether their decisions are moral or not. Morals play a large part in a company's success. Fairness, ethics, integrity and rights are some moral buzz words thrown around in business environments that impact how companies operate internally and externally.
Code of Ethics
Many companies develop codes of ethics as a means of ensuring that business decisions, employee practices and other behaviors are moral and ethical. A code of ethics outlines what it means to be moral or immoral, ethical and unethical, so employees and administrators have a clear understanding of what types of actions are acceptable or not tolerated by the organization. Some examples of moral and ethical issues that are found in codes of ethics include not accepting bribes, not discriminating against employees or customers, not partaking in child labor and not participating in acts that are harmful to the environment.
Issues of morality pop up in most decisions that business people are forced to make. Business decisions require black and white answers. For every decision that a businessman agrees to, he causes another rolling affect to take place. Saying "yes" to one thing means saying "no" to something else. Many decision makers have to ask themselves whether something is the right thing to do. And the issue of what is right is a gray area. What is right for one person may not be right for another; however, a good rule of thumb is for decision makers to look at what the most mainstream belief is to determine whether something is moral or not. That is, if the majority of people believe that cutting down a rain forest is a bad thing to do, then the moral decision would be to find an alternative way to get the same job done.
Business leaders and decision makers cannot please everybody in the world. And there are times when companies have to make decisions that are based in self-interest and profitability, and not on what mainstream morals dictate. These are tough decisions for businesspeople to make, and they often realize that particular consequences will come as a result. Such consequences are weighed in during the decision-making process, but it becomes a matter of which consequence is the worst.
The relationship a company has with customers, clients, contractors, vendors and other businesses depends on the moral construct of the organization. Companies that operate immorally or unethically risk burning bridges and damaging their good standing in the eyes of the public, as well as with those who work for the company. Employees who witness immoral decision-making and unethical practices within their organizations may opt to leave their jobs out of sheer disrespect for the company. When immoral and unethical business practices are exposed or leak out, a company develops a poor public image that impacts its profitability. Consumers have the right to choose where they do business, and in the end, the companies that act immorally may lose clients and customers to their industry competitors.
- Santa Clara University; Thinking Ethically: A Framework for Moral Decision Making; M. Velasquez et al.
- "Inc." Magazine; How to Write a Code of Ethics for Business; Josh Spiro; February 24, 2010
- Harvard Business School: Working Knowledge; Where Morals and Profits Meet; The Corporate Value Shift; Carla Tishler; November 18, 2002
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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