Business Ethics and Social Responsibility

Importance of Business Ethics

According to the American Management Association, 56 percent of surveyed participants ranked ethical behavior as the most important characteristics of effective leaders. Americans have witnessed firsthand the destruction that occurs when corporations do not behave ethically. Businesses who conduct themselves in an ethical manner pass their values, morals, and beliefs down to the employees and customers. The effect can be felt throughout the community, which has a profound impact on local schools, community centers, and other groups. Companies such as Enron, Tyco, Adelphia, and WorldCom are classic examples of what can happen when corporations disregard or neglect the importance of business ethics. A company’s ethical behavior can build or destroy Main Street USA.

Accounting Information Ethics

Accountants are held to a high level of ethical standards that are set by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. Accountants, whom handle large sums of money, are most vulnerable in scandals such as Enron, and are the first line of defense for protecting the public’s interests.

  • Business and Accounting Ethics – An academic overview of the importance of ethics in the accounting industry.
  • Role Of Ethics In Accounting – A resource portal for accountants, which outlines the role of ethics in accounting.
  • Ethics In The Accounting Profession: A Study – An in depth study on the ethical standards of CPAs.

Human Resource Management Ethics

Human resource managers play an essential role in applying ethical principles throughout the corporation. Human resource managers set an example for the rest of the company, as ethical behavior trickles down from the managers, supervisors, employees, and customers into the local community.

  • Ethical Challenges in Human Resources – James O’Toole to the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership discusses the challenges of ethical behavior in HR.
  • Why ethics is HR’s issue – An article that discusses why Human Resource Managers need to be concerned with ethics in the workplace.
  • The Ethics of Human Resources and Industrial Relations – A book by John W. Budd, ILR Press (Pub. September 2005)

Marketing and Sales Ethics

The marketing and sales industries are particularly prone to ethical dilemmas due to the fact that companies must utilize an aggressive marketing strategy due to the capitalist nature of our economy. Ethics should be the most important aspect of any marketing campaign as consumers flock to ethical and responsible companies. Additionally, consumers begin to spread the word about said company or service.

  • Understanding Marketing Ethics – Provides a thorough review of ethics in the marketing industry and how it can be applied to each stage of the selling process.
  • Ethics in Marketing: A Collection of Articles – A collection of articles about ethics in the sales and marketing industry.

Production Ethics

While the production and manufacturing industries are focused on providing goods, the manner in which they do so can impact the company’s reputation. It is vital that these companies hire legal workers, provide adequate wages, and are community-oriented. Ethical treatment of production workers is essential for companies who strive for social responsibility.

  • Production Ethics Resources – Provides various resources on ethics throughout the production and manufacturing industry.
  • Sharon Stoerger’s Business Ethics – A collection of resources relating to the production industry.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Major corporations account for a large proportion of the American workforce, however; due to their enormous size and scope, it is easy to overlook ethics. Corporate social responsibility is about caring for the workers, giving back to the community, and being financially, environmentally, and socially responsible.

Common practices of Corporate Social Responsibility include recycling, reducing emissions, treating all employees fairly, giving back to the community by providing services or support, building new parks for children, assisting the less fortunate in the area, as well as being honest and disclosing appropriate information.

  • Corporate Ethics, Governance and Social Responsibility – A study that observes America’s top corporations and their ethical practices.
  • Center for International Corporate Responsibility – A collection of resources focusing on corporate responsibility in America and beyond.
  • Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility – Provides ethical resources and information on corporate responsibility.

Noteworthy Corporate Citizens

  • America’s Most Admired Companies – Provides the top ten socially responsible (and most irresponsible) corporations.
  • Socially Responsible Companies – A list of websites that identify socially responsible companies by Boston College.
  • America’s Most Generous Companies – An article by Forbes that identifies corporations that are helping Americans during a time of need.

In America, we have seen the destruction that can occur because of irresponsible corporations. However; we have yet to see the benefits of ethical and social responsible practices. A classic example of a lapse in ethical judgment is WalMart. Consider how the lives of workers and their families would improve if they offered a basic necessity such as private health care. The ethical and social responsibility movement can reduce the burden felt by public services, such as Welfare and Medicare. If corporations begin giving back to local communities the federal deficit will gradually decline. Additionally, as corporations invest in future generations, schools and colleges can dedicate additional resources in providing for our future.

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