Society needs ethics to ensure that people submit to some rules of conduct. This is not different when it comes to the business world. There is a need for ethics in business to ensure that the right decisions and outcomes are achieved. Throughout my ethical journey, I have learned the importance of business ethics, especially in the current global environmental and economic crises. Ethical journey helps in understanding the importance of business ethics on the business bottom line as well as on society in general.
Based on the original use of the term ethics, it is a branch of philosophy used in studying the ideal human behavior. Ethics is defined as the moral principles that govern human behavior (Salehi et al., 2012, p3). Ethics examines if the behavior is right or wrong. They help in solving moral dilemmas such as deciding what is good or bad. The word ethics has its roots on a Greek word ethos, which means moral nature. Some people use the word ethics as synonymous with the word morality. But, some argue that ethics are more professional in nature while morality goes beyond cultural codes representing individual beliefs and values. They argue that morals are more specific and they derived from ethics.
Business ethics refers to the right actions taken by a business firm. It is the ethical path that a business should adopt (Salehi et al., 2012, p3). When business ethics are applied, several things happen. First, the least harm is inflicted on humans and on the environment. Second, the greatest benefit for the business and for the society is achieved. Third, all dealings are fair. In short, business ethics is about fairness, respect, honesty, and humaneness in all business dealings.
My ethical journey
My ethical journey started way back when I was a child. My parents introduced me to moral concepts early enough. When I was five years old, I loved ice cream. But, my mum came up with a rule forbidding the eating of ice cream. Then, one day we got out shopping with my grandmother. I asked grandma to buy me some. She said mum was against it. I lied to her and said mum is ok as she had even brought some for me. When enjoying my ice cream, mum appeared from nowhere. She was angry that I lied to my grandma. I had lied several other times and every time she was angry. I could not understand why I shouldn’t lie. Fortunately, my parents started teaching me ethics by telling me what is right and what is wrong (Illes and Vogell, 2018, p351). This learning would later enrich my ethical baggage in life.
My ethical journey continued. In my mid-twenties, I needed a part-time job. A certain organization was hiring. Several people had shown up for the interview. I was shortlisted among 5 other candidates. The company needed five people. Four of the 6 were selected automatically. Then, the company had to choose one of the last two candidates. Unfortunately, I was among these two. One committee member said, ‘maybe we should base our decision on gender’. And from this remark, I lost the job opportunity to my colleague. I was so angry. This was gender discrimination. It was ethically wrong. The organization had a responsibility to do what is ethical (Duska, 2000, p111). Their act was ethically wrong and inhumane. They should have considered a better approach to make a fair decision. Any form of discrimination in business dealings crosses the ethical line. Fortunately, I have not experienced such negative experiences again.
I had an opportunity to work in an organization whose priority was creating an ethical working environment. The organization had identified several values that were to serve as guiding principles encouraging people in this organization to make decisions that are based on the stated beliefs (Illes and Vogell, 2018, p351). The values were displayed all over the organization guiding every stakeholder on how to make an appropriate business decision. For new employees, the manager took the time to explain to us the values of the company and the importance of living by them to create an ethical workplace. This continued to enrich my ethical journey. I found it exciting to work in a company that valued business ethics in a world where businesses are being accused of making moral mistakes.
My ethical journey continued after joining a non-governmental organization investing in corporate social responsibility. Corporate social responsibility is a practice that incorporates sustainable development into a business model (Scheyvens, 2016, p371). Through this practice, a business is able to act ethically towards society by reducing destruction and increasing the preservation of resources for future generations. This organization focused on the triple bottom line, that is, people, planet, and revenue. After gaining increased profit, the organization has established the CSR program which focused on giving back. The company gives donations to support communities across the world during crises. There are donations for building schools and facilitating access to clean drinking water in developing countries. The company has also established a program that encourages employees to participate in giving back.
In terms of sustainable development, this organization donates money for maintaining green parks. The green spaces give people a noteworthy opportunity to take pleasure during outdoor recreation. These spaces also help in the regulation of climate and improving the quality of air. I was so excited about being part of an organization that is making the environment better. The company satisfies the needs of the current consumers without endangering the ability of future consumers to satisfy their needs (Scheyvens, 2016, p371). From this experience, I discovered the strength of CSR and sustainable development. Through these practices, businesses improve the wellbeing of everyone regardless of where they are. These experiences have continued enriching my ethical baggage in life.
My ethical journey started when I was a kid and clearly, it is not ending soon. During the first years of my life, I learned general ethics. I learned how to differentiate between a right and a wrong idea. After joining the world of business, I discovered more about ethics. I was introduced to business ethics. I learned that businesses have a responsibility to act ethically. As the journey continues, I learned about more dimensions of ethics, corporate social responsibility, and sustainable development. I learn that through these practices, businesses are not just benefiting society. They are also creating a good image that can impact the bottom line positively. Clearly, there is a lot to experience when it comes to ethics and business ethics. I expect to continue with my ethical journey and hopefully become more knowledgeable in matters of business ethics.
Duska, R (2000). Business Ethics: Oxymoron or Good Business? Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 1, Globalization and the Ethics of Business (January 2000), pp. 111-129.
Illes, K. and Vogell, C., (2018). Corporate values from a personal perspective. Social Responsibility Journal, 14(2), pp.351-367.
Salehi, M., Saeidinia, M. & Aghaei, M. (2012). Business Ethics. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, 2 (1), 1-5.
Scheyvens, R., Banks, G. and Hughes, E., (2016). The private sector and the SDGs: The need to move beyond ‘business as usual’. Sustainable Development, 24(6), pp.371-382.