What is Business Ethics?

We are living in the world which is surrounded by advertisement, global connectivity via different modes of communication and cut throat competition. In the increasingly conscience-focused marketplaces of the 21st century, the demand for more ethical business processes and actions (known as ethicism) is increasing. The business houses, industries and markets started regarding customer as the king. Simultaneously, pressure is applied on industry to improve business ethics through new public initiatives and laws (e.g. higher UK road tax for higher- emission vehicles). Businesses can often attain short-term gains by acting in an unethical fashion; however, such behaviour tend to undermine the economy over time. The study of all these kinds of relationship constitutes the subject matter of Business Ethics.

Business ethics is a form of applied ethics that examines ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that arise in a business environment. It applies to all aspects of business conduct and is relevant to the conduct of individuals and business organizations as a whole. Applied ethics is a field of ethics that deals with ethical questions in many fields such as medical, technical, legal and business ethics.

Business ethics can be both a normative and a descriptive discipline. As a corporate practice and a career specialization, the field is primarily normative. In the field of academics descriptive approaches are also taken. The range and quantity of business ethical issues reflects the degree to which business is perceived to be at odds with non-economic social values.

Historically, interest in business ethics accelerated dramatically during the 1980s and 1990s, both within major corporations and within academia. For example, today most major corporate websites lay emphasis on commitment to promoting non- economic social values under a variety of headings (e.g. ethics codes, social responsibility charters). In some cases, corporations have redefined their core values in the light of business ethical considerations (e.g. BP’s “Beyond Petroleum” environmental tilt).

But the scenario today is different. Business is done from the point of view of making money and not from the point of the customers. The role of advertisements has also changed. In the past the role of advertisement was to convey the truth about the product to the customer but in today’s world business is based on advertisement which to a great extent is misguiding. There are cases where the product does not serve the purpose from the consumer point of view. Besides advertisement there are social workers, trade unions and consumer guidance society who play an important role in business ethics and who have some control on the advertising world.

Business life is becoming very complex today and that is why there has to be some kind of code that the business practises are ethical. There are certain purposes like:-

  1. To increase public confidence so that one can get rid off wrong advertisements.
  2. to have certain ethical standards so that unfair competitions are limited.
  3. to expose fraud businessman.

But inspite of all these unethical practice have become common with the desire to make more money eg Mixing water to milk, misbranding, misrepresentation of goods, mishandling information, overcharging, selling the product after the expiry date, bottles that look large but contain less amount of product etc.

The businessman are supposed to pay to workers properly which could be for long hours and must be in hygienic conditions but unfortunately even this is not taken care of. That is the reason why the goal of business should not be profit alone but a social outlook with emphasis of service too is important which unfortunately is forgotten today.

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