IS ETHICAL A BUZZ WORD NOW?
Ethical is not a new word or a new concept .
Ethical comes from the Greek, ethos “moral character” and describes a person or behaviour as right in the moral sense – truthful, fair, and honest.
Now, there is more emphasis on the concept of an ethical way of living and a focus on companies operating their business according to ethical standards.
The idea of ethics in business can be traced back to the earliest forms of bartering, based on the principle of equal exchange. Countless philosophers and economists have examined the topic, from Aristotle and his concept of justice to Karl Marx’s attack on capitalism.
In the 1960s the concept of business ethics was very popular corporations became more aware of a rising consumer-based society that showed concerns regarding the environment, social causes, and corporate responsibility. The increased focus on so-called social issues was a hallmark of the decade.
There have been many different areas where ethical standards have been implemented . In 1978 the release of the Belmont report written by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioural Research. It identified three basic principles, among those generally accepted in our cultural tradition, are particularly relevant to the ethics of research involving human subjects: the principles of respect of persons, beneficence and justice.
The study of Ethics in Business was elevated to an academic discipline by Clarence Walton, considered the Father of Business Ethics, who was a trend setting leader in the promotion of business ethics. He was one of the first individuals in the USA to do serious research and publish papers on the subject of business ethics. During his illustrious career, Walton worked as a consultant on social and political sciences to large corporations. He was responsible for making business ethics an integral part of executive training courses at General Electric, IBM, U.S. Steel, Prudential, Alcoa, USX and other major corporations.
According to Dr. Jill Young, an instructor in South University’s College of Business, integrity is the most important ethical concept because it covers such a broad area. “If you act with integrity, ethical behaviour is just a natural progression,” she says. “Those who have integrity are guided by a set of core principles that influences their decisions and behaviours.”
While businesses have to meet economic expectations, they also have ethical responsibilities. Everyone, from the bottom to the top of the organizational chart, must take care to meet these responsibilities.
Six Pillars of Character
Josephson Institute, a non-profit organization that develops and delivers services and materials to increase ethical commitment has identified the six pillars of character.
Whether you work for a small business or a major corporation, following ethical principles matters.
People with integrity value other principles, including honesty, respect, personal responsibility, compassion, and dependability.
These qualities are integrated into the Six Pillars of Character, which are.
Alongside the Six Pillars, The JOSEPHSON Institute also identified the 12 ethical principles for business executives.
1. HONESTY. Ethical executives are honest and truthful in all their dealings
2. INTEGRITY. Ethical executives demonstrate personal integrity and the courage of their convictions by doing what they think is right even when there is great pressure to do otherwise.
3. TRUSTWORTHINESS. Ethical executives are worthy of trust.
4. LOYALTY. Ethical executives are worthy of trust, They safeguard the ability to make independent professional judgments by scrupulously avoiding undue influences and conflicts of interest.
5. FAIRNESS. Ethical executives and fair and just in all dealings; they do not exercise power arbitrarily, and they are open-minded; they are willing to admit they are wrong and, where appropriate, change their positions and beliefs.
6. CONCERN FOR OTHERS. Ethical executives are caring, compassionate, benevolent and seek to accomplish their business objectives in a manner that causes the least harm and the greatest positive good.
7. RESPECT FOR OTHERS. Ethical executives demonstrate respect for the human dignity, autonomy, privacy, rights, and interests of all those who have a stake in their decisions; they are courteous and treat all people with equal respect and dignity regardless of sex, race or national origin.
8. LAW ABIDING. Ethical executives abide by laws, rules and regulations relating to their business activities.
9. COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE. Ethical executives pursue excellence in performing their duties, are well informed and prepared, and constantly endeavour to increase their proficiency in all areas of responsibility.
10. LEADERSHIP. Ethical executives are conscious of the responsibilities and opportunities of their position of leadership and seek to be positive ethical role models by their own conduct
11. REPUTATION AND MORALE. Ethical executives seek to protect and build the company’s good reputation and the morale of its employees
12. ACCOUNTABILITY. Ethical executives acknowledge and accept personal accountability for the ethical quality of their decisions and omissions to themselves, their colleagues, their companies, and their communities.”
There are major ethical dilemmas faced by organisations and need to be addressed to create an ethical business . These could be categorised under the headings of
• Corruption, bribery and facilitation payments.
• Safety and security issues.
• Environmental impacts due to business functioning.
• Information security problems.
• Human rights issues.
• Supply chain management issues.
There are many opportunities for companies and organisations to learn ethical behaviour and to implement ethical business standards in their companies in UK through University courses, courses offered by Professional organisations, UK Government and Business organisations.
Ethical people are those who recognize the difference between right and wrong and consistently strive to set an example of good conduct. In a business setting
Ethical behaviour is behaviour that applies the principles of honesty and fairness to relationships with co-workers and customers.
Those who have others’ interests in mind when they make decisions are displaying ethical behaviour. In the workplace, there might be a standard for ethics set throughout the company.
The most important outcome when developing ethical standards is that research shows Consumers are willing to pay a premium for socially responsible products.