The term “business ethics” is used in many ways and the presentation of contemporary business ethics will differ depending on how one conceives of the object under the certain issue. The history will vary depending from the point of view of the historian.Ethics, generally speaking, studies systems, norms, values that differentiate things that are wrong and right. The field of business or corporate (the other name of it) ethics focuses on investigating and promoting policies within the framework of marketable project, at the private and at the organizational level.
Corporate ethics is a type of applied ethics where researchers use morals to solve business problems. So, a basic question of ethics in business is “How do companies decide what is suitable and right for any commercial task?” Corporate ethics covers all possible levels of organization’s activity, including the tasks and obligations of businesses to clients, workers, other companies, governments, and even the environment.
Some kinds of ethics refer to some types of business activities, state, local, and federal laws. Sometimes business ethics may refer to institutionalized business ethics, that include warranties, protection of the goods, contracts, pricing and so on.It should be mentioned that many principles and approaches to corporate ethics exist. Professionals discover the field of ethics in three usual ways: by studying the views of philosophers, by identifying main ethical issues of businesses and offering solutions to them, and by investigative case studies that show the dilemmas in a new light.
The conception of corporate ethics is comparatively new. It has become an official field of study in the 1970s. Although many factors have contributed to the enlarged interest in this type of ethics, the main influence was a change in public values that lie beneath the business system. The shift in values in the USA has been characterized by a retreat from common Judeo-Christian morals toward relativism and also self-fulfillment. The ultimate result was a reduced base of all ethical norms and a following interest in solving the conflict. Realization of the development of morality in the country is significant to the learning of business ethics.
Though it is hard to find the most appropriate definition of business ethics De George in the article “The status of business ethics: past and future” tried to define the field of corporate ethics. He came to the conclusion that there are 5 kinds of activities within business ethics:
1. the development and study of cases of immorality in business
2. the experimental study of business practices
3. understanding the main terms and finding ethical propositions in business
4. raising metaethical issues and sometimes revising ethical theory
5. untangling of surrounded problems eg. the role of multinationals.
The usage of business ethics and these 5 kinds of activities may help to solve the problem successfully. The area of corporate ethics is very complex and draws from different practical and academic fields of endeavour ranging from theology to business. So, trying to define the essence of business ethics is unenviable job. Ethical and moral issues need to deal with truth, and the morals that a person or company may have. All people sometimes deal with ethical issues at some point in our lives. Ethical matters often appear when having dealing with the business environment.
When dealing with morals in a business an organizations need to guideline in order to protect themselves.The main ethical concerns of organizations fell into 4 main categories: honesty, rights, equity and the exercise of corporate power. Equity includes the difference between executive salaries and worker salaries. The issue here is whether it is right to pay managers over thirty times more than other workers get. It should be noticed that fair pricing also falls into this group. Rights cover entitlements of employees, clients, communities, and other parties. Rights generally protect all these parties from activities by businesses that can restrict their safety.
Honesty refers to the frankness of businesses’ actions and policies. Moreover, questions of honesty relate to promoting content, financial procedures, gifts and fraud. Honesty also includes obligations of workers, such as keeping in secret confidential information of the company. The key issue about implement of corporate power is whether organizations ethically can fund political committees whose work may benefit their businesses and cause social damage. This group also covers worker, goods, and environmental safety matters and raises questions about responsibilities of executives about equipment that can cause traumas and goods that may harm clients or the environment.The activities of business ethics help organizations to define and eliminate these ethical problems which may cause harm to the company now or in the future.
De George, Richard T., “The Status of Business Ethics: Past and Future,” Journal of Business Ethics, 6. 1987. Web. 7 September 2011.