Ethical Issues In Business usually generate from human decisions or actions that are capable of producing some benefits or harm for people in society. Often, ethical issues are presented in situations in which specifiable individuals or people need to make a choice among alternative actions. It is the implications of such choices in terms of the benefits or harm that are produced by them that determine their moral value.
Many ethical issues in business arise from a conflict between the personal interest of business managers and those of business; between the interests of employees and those of business owners; between the interest of business and society at large; between the interest of business and their customers.
Others may be generated from a tension between the ethical values and beliefs of business owners on one hand and their employees, customers or society in general on the other hand. For example, the fact that people operate some ethical values and principles in their personal life that may be incompatible with those that hold sway in business may generate some ethical issues.
In this regard, a conflict of interest would arise when an employee is under pressure to choose between his or her own personal ethical values and those of the business organisation he or she works for.
A typical example may be with regards to whether or not a business should offer a bribe or any other form of gratification to a government official in an attempt to influence a legislation in favour of the business.
Another example may be related to a decision to advertise a product in a way that is considered to be quite effective by a business but which an employee or perhaps some members of the public consider to be deceptive.
Key Areas Of Business Where Ethical Issues Arises:
1. Organisational Relationships:
Organisational relationship consists of how members of a business organisation relate with one another on one hand, and with stakeholders on the other. Stakeholders include customers or clients, suppliers and members of the general public that may be affected by or affect the operations of the business entity.
Within business organisations, employees are morally required to maintain the confidence of their employers, fulfil their obligations and responsibilities, and avoid putting undue pressure on others in ways that might encourage them to behave unethically.
Between business entities, ethical issues may relate to piracy and patent rights. These relate to the right that specific businesses have to produce and sell certain products for a given period of time.
2. Honesty and Fairness:
Honesty refers to the moral virtue of being truthful and trustworthy. An honest person may also be described as a person of integrity. Fairness is the moral virtue of being just, impartial and equitable in dealings with others in society.
Decision makers in diverse domains of life, including business are expected to be honest and fair in their business decision making and activities.
At the very least, business organisations and managers are required to abide by relevant laws and regulations. They are expected to refrain from any decision or action that would be harmful to their employees, customers, clients, the general public, and even their competitors.
All business dealings are expected to be based on and should also aim to enhance the moral virtues fairness, justice and trust. It is in this regard that they are expected to avoid any form of misrepresentation, deception or coercion.
Without these moral virtues, business would lack the environment required for it to thrive and make profit in a sustainable way.
Communication refers to the transmission of information and the sharing of meaning. A prominent way communication can generate ethical issues relates to the content of the information about a product or service as well as the means of transmitting such information to prospective or actual customers or clients.
The relevant information may be about the safety of a product, its efficacy, the condition under which it is produced or the means of its production. False or deceptive communication through advertisement is an important ethical issue in business.
It may constitute a significant ethical problem that can make or mar a business. This is because it destroys the trust that customers or clients have in a business organisation.
False or deceptive communication in business includes exaggerated claims, concealment of relevant and important information, and outright lying.
For instance, the substantiated claim that your brand of a product, for example, a car, is superior to its competitors may be mere exaggeration. Matters of labelling can also produce ethical issues.
For example, products’ sizes may be labelled as small, medium or large in a way that buyers are deceived about their actual sizes and the significant variation in sizes.
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