We live in an age where our value systems are being questioned everyday, as many economies continue to struggle, and the cost of huge corporate bailouts have led to sharp austerity measures in much of the Western World. This has created a need for many businesses to question the link between morals vs ethics in the business world.
What are morals in business? They tend to mean the well used words like transparency, fairness, equal opportunity, and free market. But often these phrases still lack any real meaning in today’s competitive business world.
Ethics, on the other hand are more related to how we behave, and judge others in the business World, irrespective of the laws that govern the way we do business. Often these two values collide, and just add to the confusion many people feel about the current business world.
The case of how banking corporations have responded to the huge cash bailouts by now broke governments, questions the ethics of the double standards of business. On the one hand, we can claim these debts will one day be returned, but many banks still award bonuses for financial failure. This is an ethical problem.
The so-called moral malaise our societies currently face, are often fed by leaders who state in public support for a mortal issue like equal opportunity, or transparency, but privately condone the opposite. This leads to a confusing message, and a growing cynicism inside society.
Lawyers often face the strange paradox of choosing a moral or ethical stand, when it is the client who pays the bills. This has led to a general mistrust of the legal profession, who may profess a moral stand, but ignore the ethics of taking this position. A client could be within the law, and morally right according to the law, but ethically wrong.
Management professionals often cite a successful business has to be aware of their social obligations, but at the same time earn profits. This paradox leads to compromise, and ultimately any moral duties do erode, without the profits to compensate it. Should Supermarkets donate to a food bank? or would it mean a loss of business?
Perhaps the solution to the issue of a morally or ethically run business, lies in how well it depends on the community for business. A business that is close to the community, probably sacrifices profit before an obligation to help.. It is one way, a business can grow.
Bottom line businesses often by-pass the moral route, focusing on honoring business agreements, rather than supporting a community, ethically. Ethical business agreements may be honored, but at the same time any negative effect to the community is ignored.
In this new era of global competition, we can only surmise that as long as profit and survival overide moral responsibilities, then unethical business practices may increase. And as long as the recession continues, questions will continue to be asked about corporate & business responsibility an age of austerity.
Source by Mark W. Medley