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Business Ethics definition

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In their simplest form, ethics are the moral standards you rely on when you make a decision. They define what’s right and wrong, and outline the kind of behavior that businesses should not engage in. For responsible decision making in a business environment, a good set of ethics is key. Building on this when you maintain a high set of ethics as you conduct your business it provides benefits to everyone. Ethics are not only a guide to making decisions, but also the criteria the public judge you on. In business, this is critical, because how people see you and your company is the basis of building trust. If you’re taking unethical actions, you lose credibility, and your business will suffer.

Personally, your ethics form as you are influenced by the people and the environment around you. There are ethical views that apply to people all around the world, while others are more personal, and apply only to you. Over time, your ethical views can change over time as you’re exposed to different situations and environments. The reasons for having high ethical standards include:

  • A higher moral within your employees and the organization
  • It helps to attract new customers
  • It builds higher customer loyalty
  • It reduces the risk of negative press or backlash caused by doing “the wrong” things
  • It helps to make a positive impact on the community

If you want to run a sustainable business having a high set of ethics is critical, and there can be serious consequences if poor ethical decisions are made. Regardless of whether you believe good business ethics contribute to profits or not, poor ethics will have a major impact on your bottom line. Without standards you have misinformed, misguided and bad decisions being made, which can cause financial loss or injury to other people, or the business. Many legal cases are raised because of people seeking compensation for their losses as a result of business people making unethical decisions.

You need to get every member of your organization committed to a set of high ethical standards. As a manager or the business owner, you need to clearly define and communicate to your employees the consequences of being unethical, and the set of standards you want them to adhere to. Huge organizations like Enron have been destroyed by unethical decisions, and others seriously damaged like Fannie Mae. Without a set of ethical standards combining ambition and the intelligence of senior executives is a recipe for disaster. Competitiveness, innovation and ambition are critical for a business to succeed, but they need to be kept in check with a strong moral compass, and business done in the right way.


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