A very important and influential aspect of business is the way in which various enterprises execute their moral beliefs and incorporate them into their specific industry. The philosophical reflection upon this particular aspect of business is known as ethics, which has become an increasingly integral focus of society due to its recently discovered value. Since business is a commercial or industrial enterprise engaged in as a means of livelihood, strong ethics is especially vital because it is the conscious reflection on the integrity, credibility, and trustworthiness of that which is being assessed. Due to the highly competitive nature of today’s market, companies must maintain high moral integrity in order to survive especially since strength in ethical values have such a drastic effect on consumer ratings, which will inevitably effect reputation and business. In order for a company to remain successful, it must recognize its faults and improve on them constantly. When contemplating ethics in business, focus is placed upon; key issues that arise which must be recognized in business, the benefits of strong ethics compared to the consequences of ethical misdeeds, and perspectives of ethics in business in the form of benchmark figures.
The major concerns that arise in business are related to the effectiveness of compliance policies and the influence of the management, the ultimate focus of the company and its relation to ethics, and the relationship of employee loyalty and ethics. Compliance policies refers to the established standard of ethical conduct that employees within a company must always follow. Effective compliance policies maintain a level of ethicality that employees must meet in all aspects of their business, and the reason why these compliance policies are effective is due to their enforcement and the importance placed upon them by the management (Institute of Business Ethics 4). The influence of the management on the employees is like that of a parent on a child; both must foster strong ethical values and serve as role models for the subordinate whether an employee or a child. This will encourage and influence the employees to follow the same ideal which will most likely create a more responsive staff. The focus of the company is always demonstrated during employee training; if the employer is only focused with sales and revenues and does not address ethics then the employee will develop a disregard for conduct use any means necessary to meet their superior’s goals. However, if the employer focuses on incorporating strong ethics into everyday business, then the employee will follow suit and do the same. Lastly, its is proven that the loyalty of an employee to their company is directly related to their company’s strength in ethics (Kuttner 27). Statistically, forty percent of employees who say their superiors are persons of high moral integrity are also truly dedicated to their company. Though this may seem low, it is considerably higher than the insubstantial six percent who are loyal to superiors with low moral integrity (Center for Business Ethics 1). These major issues in business ethics have been the ultimate success or the ultimate downfall of even the most powerful corporations and must not go unheeded.
There are numerous benefits of the utmost importance that a company can gain through strength in ethics and are essential in today’s volatile market. Organizations that place a considerably high importance on ethical conduct are statistically more successful than companies who do not when comparing companies of the same trade (Acton 23). Since the majority of potential customers believe that strong ethics are a necessity, these people obviously do not wish to associate themselves with persons of low moral integrity. Therefore, if a company places high importance on strong ethics and executes its compliance policies correctly, then its employees will be persons of high moral integrity and thus attract more business. The consequences of ethical misdeeds range drastically in severity depending upon the particular misconduct and who it effects. Companies cited for ethical misdeeds have suffered everything from damaged reputations and loss of business to decreased market values and demoralized employees (Kuttner 24). It is these devastating consequences that have resulted in business failure most often through bankruptcy which could quite possibly lead to criminal charges.
Perspectives of particular businesses on their ethical integrity are most commonly provided by unbiased benchmark studies, whose ratings are based upon employee and customer responses. Benchmark studies provide information on many aspects of business, and one of the many topics under question is the ethical conduct of a company. These studies are the results of various surveys given by multiple organizations and include perspectives on senior officers, ethical violations, and integrity of the workforce to name a few (Acton 36). These studies provide the general public with an ethics reference based on national averages to consult when dealing with any aspect of business and can have positive or negative effects on the industries in question depending upon their results.
Strength in ethics is obviously an extremely valuable asset to a successful company in any industry because its largest consequence is an overall increase in business, which is the true livelihood of any company. Companies must maintain a high level of moral conduct in today’s unpredictable market because a superior reputation is one of the few things that can be created and maintained without effect by the uncontrollable. With able competition at its highest, a seemingly small aspect of business such as ethics is very often the deciding factor when considering multiple companies of strong bearing. The unforgiving effects of ethical integrity will overthrow companies with a disregard for morality, and thus effective standards of ethical conduct are inevitably the future of all successful companies in modern business.
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