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Essay: The Essence of Business Ethics


It is now customary to distinguish classical ethics, a philosophical science, the subject of which is morality, and applied ethics. Today, the latter is the subject of our study. In particular, we’ll discuss ethics related to business, which is one of the types of professional science. That still does not deny the integrity of ethics as science. Its basic principles lay the foundation for the analysis of specific situations.

Ethics of business is introduced by unwritten laws of the market. Not only does its regulation complements legal mechanisms but also serves as an effective tool for many economic and socio-psychological problems. Due to this science, an entrepreneur becomes professionally recognized, predictable in business communication, which determines security and stability.

An unworthy moral behavior of a businessman casts doubts on his or her decency and becomes the reason to interrupt or not to establish business relations at all. Expecting business cooperation options, entrepreneurs prefer long-term, reliable and competent partners, intending to provide them with a number of advantages.

Unethical behavior often causes losses, if not immediately, at the time of short-term profit from their actions, then after some time, taking into account the modern development of information environment and acquisition of the reputation of an unworthy partner. That is why it is so important to every entrepreneur to be responsible for the results of his or her own business and to assess risks and consequences of all actions.

Thus, business ethics is based on honesty, openness, fidelity to a given word, ability to act on the market in accordance with existing legislation and traditions.

Corporate Social Responsibility of Firms

Understanding and acceptance of social responsibility by firms leads to emergence of the term "corporate social responsibility", generally understood as ethical behavior of firms in relation to human society.

Responsibility is, firstly, the fulfillment of social obligations prescribed by law by firms, and their willingness to strictly bear corresponding mandatory costs. Secondly, it is the readiness to voluntarily incur unnecessary spending on social needs in excess of the limits established by tax, labor, environmental and other legislation, based on not legal requirements but on moral, ethical considerations. In general, responsibility suggests:

  • Production of products and services in sufficient quantities, the quality of which complies with all mandatory standards and is subject to all legal requirements for doing business;
  • Observance of workers' right to safe work with certain social guarantees, including creation of new workplaces;
  • Assistance in upgrading the skills of staff;
  • Protection of environment and conservation of irreplaceable resources;
  • Protection of cultural heritage;
  • Support of efforts of authorities in the development of the territory where an organization is located, assistance to local social institutions;
  • Assistance to low-income families, disabled people, orphans and lonely elderly;
  • Observance of generally accepted legislative and ethical norms of doing business.

Summarizing the above-mentioned, it is worth noting that the concept of responsibility is based on the concept of 3P, which implies that the head of a firm should pay equal attention to work on profit, to the care about personnel, clients and partners (people) and to the activities aimed at protecting environment (planet).

Responsibility is an indispensable component of corporate governance in all developed countries. But in some places, only large firms are gradually introducing this concept into their activities. Such tendency can be explained by a number of factors:

  • Leaders of the overwhelming majority of companies are familiar with the concept of responsibility, but for them, it is limited to the obligation to comply with laws;
  • The leadership of federal and regional authorities does not use the principle of responsibility in its interaction with business and trade unions, and their staff are largely unaware of what to do and how to do that in order to move from declarations and agreements to systematic day-to-day work on implementing corporate social responsibility principles;
  • In business organizations, authorities and trade unions, there is no systematic and coordinated management of social activities. Efforts to ensure quality, meet the social needs of personnel, protect labor and environment, interact with the local community and government bodies are not linked by a single social policy, are not determined by social goals and are not implemented on the basis of coordinated investment programs.

The above-mentioned factors can largely be derived from the lack of relatively simple, understandable and accessible documents for the implementation of the principles of corporate social responsibility.

Meanwhile, the main results of the company's correct social policy are:

  • Strengthening of trust on the part of foreign business partners who are more likely to build business relationships on a long-term basis with socially successful companies;
  • Ability to attract and retain skilled personnel in conditions of their acute shortages;
  • Formation of a social welfare zone around a firm.

Professional Ethics

We smoothly move to a new facet of this topic. Work activity is the main sphere of public life. The welfare of many people depends on their moral goals and content. At the same time, in professional activity, there is specific (common for the representatives of one profession) relationship of people to each other, to society, as well as to the moral norms that regulate these relationships.

Professional ethics means moral norms that regulate relationship of people in work activity and the attitude of an individual to their professional duties.

Subjects of professional ethics are:

  • Qualities of a specialist's personality necessary to fulfill a professional duty;
  • Moral relationships of specialists and objects/subjects of their activities (a doctor – a patient, a teacher – a student, etc.);
  • Relationship between the staff of a firm and society;
  • Relationship of people within the team and the norms that regulate them;
  • Goals and methods of vocational education and training;

The main content of professional ethics is the norms of behavior that prescribe a certain type of moral relations between people necessary to fulfill their professional duty, as well as the rational interpretation of codes, tasks and goals of a profession. At the same time, a substantiation of moral relations in the sphere of labor presupposes:

  • Definition of purposes and motives of labor activity;
  • Identification of standards and means to achieve the intended goal;
  • Evaluation of results of labor and their social significance.

Despite the existence of universal principles of business ethics, work ethics has a clear, professionally-oriented specification.

In the following articles, we will talk about the codes of professional ethics.

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