Business ethics essay

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A sort of professional and applied ethics that critically and exhaustively investigates the ethical difficulties and essential ethical principles which are experienced in the different section of business environment is known as corporate ethics, business ethics, or ethics in business (Burg, 2009). Business ethics deals with issues that either directly or indirectly influence business behaviour in addition to professionals and the human resource as a whole in the corporate sector. Business ethics have their roots in legislative frameworks, people, stakeholder groups, company statements, and even separate entities like business organizations. Therefore, the actions and behavior, as well as the personality of individuals, are founded and thereby regulated by the business ethics, whose integrity is directly dependent on the organizations’ moral uprightness, sets of values and the organizational standards of operation. Both descriptive and normative dimensions are phenomenal to business ethics. Nevertheless, the discipline of business ethics is centrally normative, considering the professionalism and the aspects of career specialization in the field. On the contrary, the descriptive methods come in handy for other research-based academic which thrives on the interest to studying and revealing more about business ethics. It has been noted across millennia that in most cases, the long and short term objectives endeared to in business ethics often target at increasing profit margins, as opposed to economic concerns. Notwithstanding the academic segment, the huge business entities in the corporate world incepted the escalated evolution of business ethics strategies in the early 1980s up to the late 1990s (Rendtorff, 2012). A good example witnessed in a wide prevalence among the most influential corporate entities in the contemporary world in whereby the mission and vision statement have descriptive references to not only the responsibility charters but also the codes of ethics that are to be adhered to by all the stakeholders. At a critical analogy, it should be realized that while government can enact laws and regulations to determine how operations are done in business, the long-term behavior and characteristics of the corporate world are to a large degree dictated by the stakeholders through the segment of business ethics, which is technically beyond direct government manipulation, hence its lucrative role in the discipline. Nevertheless, following the effects of globalization and the advancement in technology in the twenty-first century, it has become inevitable to recognize that the world of business has picked an escalating trajectory regarding evolution, and hence the inevitable changes and developments that are being witnessed in the form of formal ethics regimes. While discussing on diverse topics to bring out the multifaceted essence of business ethics in the contemporary world, it is not only critical to outline the aspects of the History of Business Ethics, Business Ethics and Human Resource Management, Phenomenal Issues Characteristic to Business Ethics, The Significance of Business Ethics, but also essential to highlight Corporate Policy and the Implementation of Business Ethics.

History of Business Ethics

It is true that as centuries go by, the human political, cultural, social, technological, and religious aspect change, and considering that business thrives upon these fundamental elements, the segment of business ethics too has been evolving, and the present day code of ethics in the corporate world is thus a reflection of the whole diversity in history. Therefore, as decades countdown, the accepted moral standard, virtuous ethics, and typical norms become objectionable. It is critical to note that while slavery marked a paradigm shift in the way business was handled and perceived the world over, the colonial era and the cold war marked a significant epoch in the corporate world as well. It was in the early 1970s that the phrase business ethics was coined in America. The subject was inculcated into the academic curriculum, and by the mid-1980s at least 40 thousand students in diverse learning institutions had access to both the casebooks and the textbooks that shared broad concepts under the subject, amalgamated with the aide of journals, magazines, as well as other pertinent professional publications (Burg, 2009). While the subject of business ethics got into the American mainstream in 1980 following the establishment of the Society for Business Ethics, the 1987 founding of the European Business Ethics Network market the official inauguration of business ethics in the continental European schools. Because the field of academia had taken the forefront t in the discipline, the firms sensed a threat when it came to the issues of loans and savings crises, an occurrence that compelled them to as well formulate, incept and get adapted to the business ethics in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. Indeed, by the end of the cold war, it was apparent that business ethics was a concept widely spread and embraced in the media industry, fields of academia, as well as the business entities. Nevertheless, there was a lot of criticism in the early times of the incorporation of business ethics into the mainstream, as those contrary to the move were of the opinion that the rights of entrepreneur were being compromised, whereas the proponents to the same argued that the critics were against the benefits of the communities from the world of business, yet business thrived in these very societies. The controversy led to the scuttled discourse of the element of ethics in business, especially in the segments of academia and the media platforms (Rendtorff, 2012). To counter the stalemate, there was a need to establish the Defense Industry Initiative on Business Ethics, a body which was very vital when it came to supporting the business ethics and the standardized code of operations in the industry. It should be noted that this new position marked the peak of grounded business evolution, as from the all stakeholders appreciated the importance of merging business, thriving on free trade and embodying self-regulation, while lifting tariffs and globalizing business operations.

Business Ethics and Human Resource Management

Right from the health and safety factors, recruitment and performance appraisal, orientation and selection, an industrial operation to the elements of training and development of employees, the human resource management remains to be a towering platform upon which business ethics thrives (Burg, 2009). Even though some researcher contend that business ethics is very diverse from labor ethics considering the divergent orientation of the two disciplines, others cite scholarly evidence-based arguments that the two field are very interdepend and that they both support the dignity of labor as well as an egalitarian workplace. On the other hand, it is appreciated that critical issues in the human resource are independent of business ethics, for instance, privacy, the process of employment, collective bargaining, as well as the comparable worth, elements which are considered to be not only negotiable but also held in an esteem regard as inalienable. However, when it comes to factors like discrimination in the workplace based on elements of diversity in human nature including weight, race, gender, age, disability, religion, as well as attractiveness, both business ethics and human resource are on the one hand autonomous, and on the other very intrinsically bound together in effect. As such, may organizations have embraced the approach of affirmative action across decades to eliminate such discriminative aspects in the business industry. Following the hiring process and hence entitlement to the business as a staff, every individual has the right to raises based on merit as deemed due and an increased cost of living, however, when it comes to factors like promotion, one is not rightful entitled to such opportunity as they are often limited and founded on desirability of award for the few qualified applicants. While one could argue that an employee who has worked in a certain organization for a long time should not be bypassed by another who has spent relatively short in the same company when it comes to promotions, such a move is not an unethical direction to embrace by the stakeholders at the firm (Rendtorff, 2012). Nevertheless, it only becomes unethical if the responsible persons, for instance, the employer, did not give such an employee and opportunity to apply, or rather subject him or her to a fair scrutiny for the position. As such, potential employees are under obligation to ensure ethical consideration for their managers in the organization, notwithstanding whistleblowing if necessary. On the other hand, the employer is indebted to the workers when it comes to the disclosure of classified information about safety and hazard management, as well as the modification of the working environment to facilitate habitable working for the subordinates in the guest to meeting the organizations` goals and objectives (Elms, Brammer, Harris, & Phillips, 2006). Even though elements like unionization, trade policy, immigration, and globalization are critical factors that directly border on business ethics and affect the function ability of the corporate world, they are slightly beyond the purview of the individual firms, and hence the need for the external intervention, wherein government comes in handy.

Phenomenal Issues Characteristic to Business Ethics

Ethical issues are inevitable when it comes to the corporate environment the world over, whether in building new relationships or even carrying out business transactions. An ethical issue could be looked at in a multifaceted dimension, however, typically, this connotes an event, occurrence, or challenge that needs the intervention of all relevance and responsible persons, so that the most reliable, suitable, convenient, and relevant decision could be made among the many options, in the guest to reaching out to the solution of the issue in a morally upright manner. Some of the essential topics that raise concern in the contemporary world of businesses include integrity, honesty, harassment, environmental issues, professionalism, and etiquette, as well as fraud among others. If any business organization has to thrive and avoid express confrontations worth the society, employees, and the legal structures as well as external partners, then such lucrative aspects should be put in place without fail. The business stakeholders should educate themselves on how well such delicate yet critical issues should be handled, by creating well strategies platforms after that the mechanism of sober decision making is founded. Research based evidence across the most success companies in the US in 2009 by Hurn (2008) revealed that most ethical misbehavior witnessed in the business industry include improper hiring practices, discrimination, abuse of the organization resource, as well as the abusive behavior at the rates of 12, 9, 4, and 7 percent respectfully.

While every other aspect of ethical concern is essential, the element of honesty perhaps is the most flouted. Considering that in business transactions people could lie to gain profits, access compromised interest, offer bribery to shelve benefits, misuse of company resources including time, as well as creating conflicts that backfire to threaten classified information in the firm, hence calling for a compromised benefit among the stakeholders by betraying honesty. While honesty could be considered to be one of the most revered aspects of religion, in business ethics, it is acclaimed as the pillar of ethics, and it encompasses diverse elements that border the human person, including actions, thoughts, and speech. While individual employees could lie to gain special interests, avoid accountability or refuse to embrace the diversity of purpose, their skepticism certainly will mature into untamable proportions o cost not only the individuals; departs in the company, but also impair the efficient achievement of the business short term and long term goals in the long run. Lack of honesty typically cost companies billions of dollars annually, and this cannot only be perceived as personal malicious interest but also overflows to compromise the rule and regulations of the government systems that should automatically beckon for discipline based on the rule of law (Hurn, 2008). On the other hand, bribery is the most prevalent form of dishonesty when it comes to multimillion deals in businessmen the world over, and perhaps this should be left to legal intervention in entirety rather than compromising and unfounded outcomes of worth from those who enforce the code of ethics in their respective firms. Based on this compromise, in 1977, the US incepted the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, an independent body whose core objective is to ensure transparency, honesty, accountability, and hence absolute integrity among different stakeholders who transact business globally and hence directly influence the government’s foreign policies on business and trade.

Significance of Business Ethics

Business ethics are crucial principles founded on reason, thought, and scrutiny of rational decision making, whose cardinal purpose is to govern critical activities and behavior in business. Nevertheless, when it comes to individual firms and companies, the effect of business ethics becomes broader, and it encompasses all aspects carried out in decision making, ensuring the implementation of policies and practices, as well as the facilitation of programs that run on daily basis to ensure the convenient and conformable operationalization of the organization. Consequently, the bottom-line of business, the productivity as well as the philosophy of behavior and conduct every firm uses are greatly affected by the code of ethics embraced (Floyd, Xu, Atkins, & Caldwell, 2013).

The code of ethics in business are very critical, especially when it comes to the recipe of business ethics the managers and those in leadership positions engage while interacting with their subordinates. Such ethics could help earthier boost the morale of the workers or; they could, unfortunately, work in controversy with the psych of the subordinate staff, depending on how the management operates in the firm. Indeed, when those in leadership positions maintain high ethical standards which do not compromise the freedoms and rights of the staff, they automatically without much effort compel their juniors to effectively adhere to their roles. When such platforms of the agreement are established, it becomes inevitable that all people are working in a common understanding, and the goals here would be prioritizing what is critical for the organization, while serving the customer well, delivery quality services and goods, and remaining satisfied in the course of duty. The community and the financial market are critical and core segments that help the business to thrive (Floyd et al., 2013). However, it should be noted that ethical leadership is the one cardinal aspect that enhances the good reputation of the business, hence creating more opportunities in the market and building strong relationships with partners. Therefore, business ethics are essential for the management of every other organization to deliver its objective, both to the clients and the employees working in the company.

On the other hand, business ethics often lead to a strong and robust workforce, whose position on honesty and integrity is unwavering. It has been revealed through scholarly research than employees to adhere to and embrace the ethical principles in their operations often lead to success workforce, whose ability to deliver is never compromised by typical challenges in the corporate environment; the legal and social controversies notwithstanding. Furthermore, the set standards for quality are easily and efficiently achieved in the organization when employees value the moral ethics put in place. It becomes a normal way of going about one’s daily duties, whereby everybody in the form is compelled by the standards of the workplace to live up to the game, as nobody wants to appear out of place while every other party is doing their responsibilities in a desirable manner.

Observing business ethics is important becomes it leads to the creation of the ethical organizational culture. By exhibiting the type of character and personality they would want to see practiced by their subordinate, leaders can easily establish a workplace culture which will propel the whole company for centuries (Floyd et al., 2013). The stakeholders have many approaches to ensure that a credible culture that governs the manner in which everything is done at the company is done. One of the approaches would be to reward those who follow, embrace, and practice the established codes of conducts. By so doing, much other staff is challenged to do the same so as to be rewarded in due course. On the other contrary, employees who go astray should be punished appropriately and encouraged to do the right thing not only for the good of the business entity but also for the benefit of their stay at the firm. Moreover, it could help even more is employees are taken for seminars and educative tours to let them know and appreciate exactly what it means for one to abide by the legal and social norms while embracing the desirable code of ethics at their places of work. This would eventually lead to a culture in the place of work that will help answer the questions triggered by the challenges of the organization perennially.

Corporate Policy and the Implementation of Business Ethics

Based on the ever-changing business world and the diversity in internal challenges being met I order to meet the expected objectives, many business organizations have come up with privately and suitable tailored code of business ethics to respond in a special way to their local concerns. While some companies could embrace the technical approach to come up with the ethical code of business ethics, other could just casually frame the business ethics in an arbitrary manner, provided the employee behavior and ability to deliver while at the workplace is regulated accordingly for a better business environment. Such codes of ethics are very lucrative not only to the employees but also the employer, especially when responding to everyday challenges in the workplace while transacting business. It is in the professional domain that once such ethical principles are candidly embraced, it becomes more convenient and strategic to handling problematic issues, avoiding ethical disasters, ensuring consistency in operations, as well as creating ethical awareness among all stakeholders pertinent to the organization (Salehi, Saeidinia, & Aghaei, 2012). On the other hand, business ethics in some firms has gone as far as creating need for the employees and their managers to attend seminar, create meeting, as well as attend occasional lecture over business conduct, in order to create appropriate platforms for outlining specific case studies, discussing and reaching at amicable conclusion over specific business policies as well as creating insight over the need to observing the legal positions in the business world. Moreover, certain business entities require their subordinates to sign against their names that they pledge to abide by the rules and regulations that as so tagged as business ethics, which makes it more or less of a legal binding procedure.

On the other hand, research has become the core aspect of business ethics in the contemporary world, considering the effects of globalization and diversity in the business environment. For instance, many firms are interested in unfolding more that predisposes their employees to be vulnerable not to embrace the ethics of conducts in their places of work. On the contrary, the competitive business environment has often in many occasion compromised the integrity of the stakeholders, an occurrence which has persistently led to embracing unethical conduct so as to achieve success in business, for instance when it comes to trade, wherein lying and lack of accountability has characterized the segment with advanced and sophisticated forms of deceit (Salehi et al., 2012). On the other hand, almost 40 percent of business stakeholders are opposed to business ethics, and they thrive on the argument that the employees had better be left to their autonomous judgment, rather than influencing what could be beyond the capacity of ethical approach in solving. Furthermore, such controversies have been sustain perpetually by the argument that ethical principles appeal to the infringement of legal precepts and pertinent statutes put in place to ensure the monitoring and regulation of business operations, as well as creating a pretentious environment which coerces the customers and clients to show favored which is not thereby desirable in transactions. Moreover, the companies and firms that have been closely following the evolving business ethics appreciate the fact that such is used as a scapegoat when a lawsuit is filed against the organization. In most cases, the stakeholders would often appeal to the jury that had the employee followed the ethical principle as required, the issues that lead to the court case would not have occurred. However, on critical analysis, researchers have realized that in most cases, there is a significant disconnection between the code of ethics put in place and the actual behavior and characteristics of a certain organization (Salehi et al., 2012). In essence, the business ethics is portrayed as a marketing instrument in disguise.

In conclusion, therefore, while the business ethics in most companies present as an excuse for the improper performance in the society as anticipated by both the society and the law, most of these platforms of business ethics are used as sentimental regulations that reflect the deep part of human common sense. Indeed, most organizations do not appreciate the appropriate efforts needed to be put in place to ensure code of ethics is rightfully applied, rather, the real dilemmas in moral ethics are left outside of attendance in the corporate world. For instance, while the US Department of Commerce handles the issues of ethics as rules and regulations which should be followed per se, most stakeholders argue that the code of conduct at work and hence the business ethics embraced are just developed for the sake of it, being ethical. Nevertheless, as opposed to the extreme antagonisms leveled against business ethics, it has been proved by research studies time and against that the importance of business ethics cannot be overlooked, especially in the contemporary world where making profits has become the cardinal goal, at the expense of the rights of the societies in which business organizations thrive. Perhaps one of the most fundamental reasons while the business ethics remains to be indispensable is the freshness that comes with all stakeholders rethinking their position, the purpose of the managers, the objectives of the company, as well as what is expected of them by not only the administration but also the society. Such a common perspective of reasoning compels people to be realistic, accountable, competent, and hence thriving in an environment that has been tailored to enhance the efforts of delivering to everyone’s expectations without compromising quality and autonomy. Furthermore, business ethics could compel people to embrace rational decision making approaches, reason, and principal in their actions as well as inculcate new employees in the organizations to foster the realized advantages of the ethical goals.


Burg, R. (2009). Deliberative business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 88(SUPPL. 4), 665–683.

Elms, H., Brammer, S., Harris, J., & Phillips, R. A. (2006). Business Ethics. Business Ethics Quarterly, 3(July), 401–425.

Floyd, L. A., Xu, F., Atkins, R., & Caldwell, C. (2013). Ethical Outcomes and Business Ethics: Toward Improving Business Ethics Education. Journal of Business Ethics, 117(4), 753–776.

Hurn, B. J. (2008). Ethics in international business. Industrial and Commercial Training, 40(7), 347–354.

Rendtorff, J. D. (2012). Business Ethics, Overview. In Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics (pp. 365–372).

Salehi, M., Saeidinia, M., & Aghaei, M. (2012). Business Ethics. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, 2(1), 2250–3153.

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