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Staying Ethical in our Business Lives

Updated on April 26, 2013

What are Ethics?

Ethics are a set of moral principles that decide what actions you take. If you act ethically it means you act in ways that maintain certain values. As defined by Google, ethics are "moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior."

So why are ethics necessary in my business?

As we go through this article you'll understand why ethics are necessary for your business. Remaining ethical is key to maintaining customer relations and keeping customer trust. It will also help you sleep better at night knowing that your business is completely ethical and professional.

Universal Values

One important thing that pertains to being ethical that you'll learn to take note of is universal values. If you notice, throughout any culture, or society, people value certain things. Some examples of universal values are:

  • Friendship:
  • Helping Others
  • Success

Universal values are useful to nearly every culture or society because they promote what's needed for people to enjoy life, survive, and get along with their fellow humans. If you notice in most societies or cultures, people also value some things we call "common good". Things like obeying the law, or caring for your fellow human beings. But just like we have good things in most societies or cultures, we also have things that are generally considered bad. Such as stealing, blackmail, greed, being dishonest, etc.

Ethics in Business

If you happen to watch the news or follow some common incidents over the past few years, you've probably noticed some really terrible business-related incidents. A small example of something like this would be a company selling toys they knew contained lead-based paint, even though it's a health hazard, to make more profit. These things are seen as morally wrong, or unethical. Things like this have brought some recognition to business ethics.

Why should I practice business ethics?

It's the right thing to do. Remember the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Other than it being "right", there are a few practical reasons as to why you should practice business ethics.

  • An ethical workplace will motivate your employees. If you're an unfair and unethical employer, your employees won't be very motivated or confident working for you. If employees see you doing something unethical in the workplace, they may get frustrated and wonder as to what's going on. They will feel proud to work for a business that honors it's ethics and treats it's employees fairly and honestly.
  • Customers will likely feel better knowing that they're buying their products or services from an ethical company. Would you buy from a company that's been proven to not honor any ethics various times throughout their history, or a company that has a great track record? You'll likely choose the second company.
  • Staying ethical prevents legal issues. As you probably know, lawsuits are not only expensive, but they can also severely hurt a businesses reputation.

Creating a Code of Ethics for your business

Writing a code of ethics will describe your business's moral philosophy and give guidelines for what your business does. Writing a business code is a wise move on many different levels.

  • It makes you explain your values and principles:

Ask yourself; "what do I believe is important, in my business, and in my life?". Answer these questions and help yourself understand what you believe in. Write a very descriptive answer to all of your questions. You might value honesty very highly in your business, but what does it mean to you, the business owner and the person writing your business code?

  • Prevents future problems and issues

Say a question arises in your business about a common ethical issue. You can simply see how it compares to your code of ethics. If it's not clearly defined, you should consider adding it to your code of ethics after resolving the issues.

Although I'd love to, I cannot write your code of ethics for your business. It is something you should sit down and work on, perhaps with some of your employees to make sure you include everything.

Do you think being ethical is important?

Do you think being ethical is important?

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To summarize, you should try to maintain ethical in your business to not only prevent problems, but to increase employee confidence and customer confidence. If you happen to have any questions about staying ethical in your business, feel free to leave a comment below. If you enjoyed this article, feel free to leave a comment as well. I hope you enjoyed reading this article!


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    • Dennis AuBuchon profile image

      Dennis AuBuchon 4 years ago

      Thank you for writing on this important topic. I find having ethics as an individual and as a business is something individuals are looking for today. Having ethics as an individual can or does affect the ethics in a company. I voted up, useful, awesome and interesting along with liking, pinning and tweeting.