Business ethics – an organizational ”must-have”

Nowadays, the economic responsibility of business stands for a consistent challenge and pressure due to global competitiveness. Still, when fulfilling their economic responsibilities, businesses should consider simultaneously ethical responsibilities. These responsibilities consist of practices, behaviors, activities, policies that are not codified into laws, but are expected (in a positive sense) or prohibited (in a negative sense) by societal members. Also, ethical responsibilities cover a series of standards or expectations of behavior that reveal a constructive interest for what clients, employees, shareholders, the community, and other stakeholders perceive as right or fair.

At this level, consultant John Dalla Costa (cited in Carroll, 2000, p. 36) underlined in his work The Ethical Imperative that ethics is becoming step by step the central business issue of our time, afflicting corporate profits and credibility, as well as personal security and the sustainability of a global economy. A business manager has responsibilities for their workers, their customers, their shareholders, their competitors, laws, society and environment. In order to perform these duties, business people must make decisions within a moral framework and consequently the core of business ethics is to establish what one ought to be doing, when one is doing business.

An interesting consideration in this respect is brought to light by Solomon (1993, p. 36) who states that ethics in business practice does not necessarily come from the business schools that managers attend, but from some character traits – “virtues” that are acquired through socialization, but also due to the environment and culture organization in which the individual is formed as manager. The author mocks economics school graduates that become Wall Street financial officers whose activity is defined as “making money”. Once employed, young people will practice all the tricks learned in school and they will work to impress a manager, taking behavioral patterns valued in the company and then climb the ladder of the organization upon receipt of increasing salaries or bonuses. The author calls this phenomenon “abstract greed”. It is centered on money, around the desire to simply get rich, not to get anything related to it or to prove that you possess expertise, but just for the sake of being rich. It is the most important good feeling, more important than personal dignity or happiness.

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