Ethics Across Fields The purpose of this paper is to determine the consistency of the moral and ethical value systems that guide the practices of organizations that make up the economic fabric of the nation. As scientific advancements and new technologies become readily accessible society experiences the consequences as well as the benefits. Are the decisions of individuals charged with fiscal soundness ethically neutral? What is the impact to society if ethical considerations fail to keep pace with rapid scientific and technological growth? Ultimately, who is responsible?
Why Bother With Ethics? Because the society we live in is fundamentally based upon performance and profit, it is necessary to impart a sense of corporate social responsibility in regard to modern commerce. Purpose, principle and consequence are the vehicles of ethics in business. They are fundamental components of any organization s social performance. Utilizing these components involves incorporating the interests of ethics and morality into the corporate structure. These are essential concepts that may be absent from a managerial standpoint.
Corporate social responsibility should exist within every company’s infrastructure. (1) However, social integrity is not necessarily something that is at the forefront of modern day business dealings. Ethics, business and society must work together or there is no purpose for any of its existence. Unethical practices are what create a climate of contempt and distrust, leading to consumers who harbor animosity. This is no way to run a business. Ethics are a necessary and critical ingredient in any successful enterprise.
Establishing such ethical fortitude is not difficult if a moral and conscientious outlook is maintained. Ethical concerns run rampant among various entities, posing questions along the way as to whether a particular practice is considered morally acceptable. Ethics sometimes get in the way of resolving questions like: What is the ethical concern? Am I being true to myself? Why is this bothering me? Is it my problem? What do others think? Who else matters? (2) Establishing reasonable ethical guidelines and their ensuing orporate social responsibility must come from a management perspective, which is the primary location where policy is derived.
Ethical perspectives include purpose, principle and consequence, and myriad ethical considerations in the daily world of business. Each concern presents yet another moral dilemma: Should the decision be made for company or personal gain? What if the company benefits at the expense of society? How many will reap the benefit of individualized attention at the expense of all others? Is there a time when an individual’s interests supercede those of the masses?
These are ethical questions posed each and everyday throughout the global business and social worlds. Whether or not the right answers are acted upon is another matter entirely. Ethical problems of personal and public decision making are not new. The need to undertake ethical reflection is a central part of what it means to be human. (3) Ethical decision-making goes hand in hand with sound business judgment, yet this is not a concept always followed. The very purpose behind ethical behavior has some people stumped as to its true intention.
While some believe it s the cornerstone in the foundation of good business, others contend that it brings out nothing more than “an absolutist, rigid set of constraints that violate one’s sense of independent judgment. ” (4) Profiting From Ethical Behavior In truth, ethics represent moral perspective that, while having a universal theme, is still open to interpretation. In spite of the fact that each person reserves his or her own value system with respect to ethical behavior there still remains a significant void between what some consider to be morally acceptable and what others believe to be wrong.
All people have built-in ethical responses. Certain actions are identified as wrong, others as morally praiseworthy. The values of honesty, promise- keeping, truth-telling, benevolence and justice, endure because they are essential to the social fabric of human existence. Without certain fundamental principles of fair dealing and mutual respect, business would be impossible. (5) Establishing and maintaining corporate ethics is indeed center to continued success, on both a personal and professional level.
Constant nurturing of moral judgment and a specific code of ethics is in order as a means of upholding the positive image necessary to perpetuate corporate policy. The primary elements of such nurturing include having a clear and concise sense of honesty that is validated by society; appropriate and applicable conventions when confronted with difficult situations; managerial involvement in and awareness of ethical issues; a supportive ethics program that is wholeheartedly supported by top management; and staff involvement. (6) Defining Ethics – Not a Case of Black and White
These concepts represent a complete quest toward ethical decision-making. No one element can create or sustain ethical management and weakness in one element could undermine the whole effort. It can be easily argued that diversity is truly key to corporate social responsibility. However, not all businesses are managed in such a manner. (7) With the ever-changing workforce, it is imperative that companies open themselves up to reorganization that previously had not existed. Such modifications include the continued application of ethical and moral decision-making processes.
These changes are not only representative of on-going change they are also indicative of a more compassionate view towards all components of the business world. Distinguishing these moral and ethical actions requires that a determination if the actions are right or wrong is based solely upon existing social norms. So then what denotes right and wrong? Unlike other social circles where ethical behavior is dependent upon the social customs imbedded in actions, there exists no clear path of morality to follow when it comes to the corporate world. 8) Ignoring such a path would reap severe consequences upon the business that saw itself as beyond the established ethical norm.
The moral argument that helps managers choose among competing duties based upon the best consequences inevitably obliges managers to do what they see as best. Vision, however, is obscured by discussions about stock price movements, instrumental ethics, and shareholder wealth easily obscures the true moral argument. (9) Determining what constitutes morals or values is the fundamental purpose of corporate social responsibility.
Given the fact that all of humanity must coexist on the same planet, there has to be a modicum of consideration with regard to business values. If not, there would be no sense of tolerance or respect for individual life. People have to abide by an ethical code to ensure proper behavior among the world s population. Yet, who is to determine what this corporate ethical code will represent, and who is to say that all commerce must follow it? Clearly, defining ethics is to define man s values and interests. This is a concept that must exist within the framework of all business infrastructures.
Business today involves areas of profitability that didn t exist as little as twenty years ago. Technologies appear in society increasing in kind and speed. These new methods and sciences are accompanied by assumptions about their inherent benefit to mankind. But shortly after they appear questions often arise due to unintended and unforeseen consequences or unclear implications for established moral values. For example, the following three instances of technology created social problems. Each involves issues that cannot be resolved based simply on the scientific or technical value, but demand reflection on moral principles.