Importance of Professional Values and Ethics in Business or Career

There are some people, particularly among businessmen, who say that personal principles, values and ethics should not be meddled with in business dealings. There is a saying in Tamil to support this line of argument which suggests “money got by selling a dog doesn't bark and the money got by selling fish doesn't stink”. But in the long run, if a businessman or an executive wants real peace of mind, stability in business/ career and a sense of self-fulfilment in career or life, he cannot afford to divorce ethics from business.

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In a highly competitive business environment, business interests and professional ethics may cross the path of each other quite frequently. Temptations to “somehow” clinch a golden business opportunity by sidelining ethics and principles may come at several occasions in business life. Paying bribe, receiving bribe, supplying sub-standard quality, creating artificial scarcity, making false promises about delivery, doing adulteration of materials, tax evasion - there are umpteen possibilities in business to sideline ethics so as to make a quick buck in the short run.

It is quite possible to make filthy profits in the short run through filthy business practices. As long as the unethical business practices go on stealthily, one can happily indulge in such practices, but if the transactions get exposed, the business may get blacklisted by the buyers. Some unethical practices like adulteration, cheating in quantity of supply, weight etc, if caught red handed, can even put the business owner behind the bars. Any bad name obtained by a business house takes quite a long time to repair and it is not easy to regain customer confidence.

On the other hand, good principles and values followed in the business may even impact adversely on profitability in the short run. But short-sightedness in business can never bring respectability and prestige to the business owners or to the business professionals in society.

Another important practical reality any executive must be aware of is the attitude of business owners, who mostly sit on the fence when it comes to professional values and ethics. An over-smart business executive may happily indulge in business practices aimed at maximizing profits for the company by neglecting ethics and principles. As long as things go on smoothly without any hiccup, the business owners will turn a blind eye to the executive's questionable practices; the executive may even get quick promotions and financial rewards in appreciation of his contribution.

The easiest way is to discharge the factory's effluents into the nearby river. But is it not outright unethical?
The easiest way is to discharge the factory's effluents into the nearby river. But is it not outright unethical? | Source

But should something go wrong and the organization ends up in an a difficult position (a business scam, an journalistic exposure about high level corruption, unfair and antisocial trade practices etc) the owners or the top management will make the same executive, whom they have been nurturing all along, a scape goat. From floating in the cloud nine, the executive's career may take a nose dive and crash into troubled waters. Short term successes cannot guarantee a steady career, if professional ethics and values are sidelined.

It is an obvious conclusion - whether one is a businessman or an executive concerned about his career in the organization, professional values and ethics are must for success in the long run.

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