Business ethics can be seen as principles that guide our behavior toward making the best decisions that have the best interest for the common good. Ethics is what guides us to tell the truth, keep our promises, or help someone in need. There is a framework to follow ethics, and that framework is what guides us toward living a just life and steering away from making unjust decisions.
While ethics is important in one’s personal life, it is just as important in the business world. It is crucial that ethics is in the business world because of the framework it provides. Think of it like this; if there were to be an ethical framework in every single business in the world, there wouldn’t be corrupt companies or scandals because the companies would be more concerned about the well-being of their customers and the environment, along with being transparent about their company. Ethics helps guide us in making the world a better place through the choices we make. That is why ethics must be applied in the business world, it will create ethical companies and fix companies that are lacking an ethical framework.
Framework of Ethics
The five principles of ethics are: transparency, integrity, trustworthiness, equality, and responsibility. While these principles are not the certified five standards, they are an introduction as to what an ethical framework should consist of.
Transparency involves telling the truth in its entirety and communicating clearly about everything a company does and speaks. It accurately represents the facts and builds a strong relationship with customers which will directly impact the company. The more open and honest a company can be, the more likely the public and customers will trust its services, products or mission.
When a company has a strong integrity, it shows that the company is willing to stick with a decision, especially if they are pressured to do otherwise. This shows great courage and honor from a company because they are willing to sacrifice their profit rather than their morals and values. When a company is able to do what they believe is morally right based on equality and fairness, it demonstrates strength and nobility.
Trustworthiness is a key component to success in business because not only do people typically prefer to work with and buy from companies, they believe are dependable, but a trustworthy company provides loyalty. When a company keeps their promises and fulfill commitments to their employees, business, and partners, this displays the company is committed to business ethics.
Equality is critical in the business world; it creates a more open and fairer environment for the employees. Companies should strive to act fairly in order to act justly. By companies acting justly, it allows for a more fair and equal hiring practice, marketing tactics, business partnerships and competing within the market for new consumers and clients. This shows that the company values advancements of their employees and business, over the owner’s personal gain.
Companies that possess high ethical standards recognize their responsibilities to their employees and customers and understand that how they conduct their business affects their image and ethical standards. Companies have a responsibility to lead with the values and mission of their company to make decisions that will benefit everyone; thus, making decisions for the greater good. Company leaders have the responsibility to implement and uphold ethical standards and model them to others by exercising the standards themselves.
How to apply ethics in the workplace and personal life
By implementing ethical standards into the workplace, it allows for the company’s culture to be remodeled or created on an ethical foundation. When a company builds its mission and company around an ethical framework, it creates opportunities for the company to succeed legally and on good conscience. When a company designs its code of ethics, they enforce a set of rules and regulations with the intent of the company operating within the law, protecting its leaders, employees and customers. These codes of ethics can also include ethical standards such as transparency, loyalty, lawfulness, equality and accountability.
When applying ethics into the workplace, one can exercise ethics by modeling them. For instance, if someone notices their coworker stealing, they can exercise their honest ethical standard and report them. One can show trustworthiness by listening to a coworker and promising to not share their hardships with others. A leader or boss in the workplace can model ethics by showing respect to their employees and understand if they are struggling with an assignment, they offer help rather than scold the employee. When ethics are applied in the workplace, it provides a safe and peaceful environment and a respectful workplace.
When implementing ethics into one’s personal life, this can be seen by encapsulating the five principles and then some. To start, one can remind themselves to think “Am I doing the right thing?”, before they make a decision or act on that decision. To be a morally good person, one can view it as being a virtuous human, treating others with respect and kindness, loving those around them, not assuming or judging others, and gossiping. Showing compassion to others will allow others to know they can come and talk when they are vulnerable and dealing with hardships. Listening and being a genuine person are monumental for personal ethics, they provide one with the capacity to understand others and become a key person in other’s lives. When a company hires people, who have the same ethical standards, it helps the company thrive. After all, employees are what keep a business running.
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Ethics from a Christian standpoint
From a Christian standpoint, the study of ethics can help individuals understand which actions, thoughts and attitudes please God. The study can also assist individuals in identifying the “good works” on what is morally right and what is morally wrong. As Christians, we are supposed to live in a way that we are always representing God and the gospel to others. Therefore, if we allow one coworker to get away with stealing or harassing another coworker, we lose our sense of faith and loyalty to God.
Ethics from a Christian standpoint also helps us understand and determine what is morally right and morally wrong. God uses our conscience to speak to us to determine our Christian moral duty. The framework for business ethics from a Christian perspective, allows us to use God’s word, aka the Bible, to guide us and reveal our Christian moral duty.
Classes to take
Thankfully here at Concordia, all students are required to take religion classes and a service-learning course. These courses will better equip students to live a moral and ethical life; to serve, lead, encourage and succeed in their personal lives, and in the workplace.
Business Ethics 400: This course introduces the meaning of ethics and how students can serve their communities and those around them. It requires service-learning hours which translates to volunteer hours and possibly serving a meal at a soup kitchen.
Theo 210 Faith and Life: This course will provide you with a Christian understanding of both a personal life and at the corporate level. This course emphasis the application of the Bible to real life, it will help emphasize the distinction with the Law and the Gospel, stewardship, and ethics.