Business Ethics From A Management Perspective

Issues surrounding ethical business practices effect an entire company, yet most of the responsibility for ethical behavior is placed on management's shoulders.

Business ethics, which is generally defined in terms of the social, communal and environmental responsibilities of business professionals, requires managers to take into account much more than the bottom line when making business-related decisions. This means that those in supervisory positions need to reflect on the manners in which their decisions affect employees, associates, the environment and society as a whole. While some experts contend that the responsibility of a firm's management team should focus exclusively on meeting the needs of its shareholders, it is important to keep in mind that most times, being socially and ethically responsible, results in more profitable business ventures.

The issue of business ethics heavily spotlights the abilities and inabilities of some managers to prevent ethical violations from becoming costly issues for the company. However it is unrealistic to expect managers to resolve these matters without proper edification of the issues involved. While many managers acknowledge their responsibility to stay informed of changing issues such as sexual harassment, insider trading, equal hiring practices and so on, the problem is that they often feel they do not have the authority to effectively resolve such matters. It is a fact that corporations, and societies that desire a prosperous economy are forced to compete with lower salaries, taxation, safety regulations and standards for environmental protection that can send gross expenditures through the roof. . This makes it extremely difficult for managers to perform their duties in a manner that benefits both the shareholders and the whole of humanity.

In order to "untie the hands" of managers facing ethical dilemmas, discussing the responsibility of individual corporations or managers is important, however open communications regarding the moral adequacy of the institutional frameworks within the organization's daily operations is equally essential. It is therefore not so much the moral fiber of individual managers that needs to be addressed as it is the ethical structure and overall agenda of the company itself. No matter how ethically sound and socially aware a manager is, if company policy prevents him from acting as he thinks he should, how much liability can reasonably be placed in his lap?



Corporations and entire areas of business have developed numerous systems designed to incorporate ethical issues into their decision-making procedures. These guiding principles include industry concerns, health issues, safety and environmental policies, disclosure responsibilities and a variety of other pertinent issues. The effects of the business operations in relation to these issues must be examined from a manager's perspective in order to ensure proper implementation. However along with the ability to examine these issues must come the responsibility to deal with them effectively.

Social and environmental issues must also be scrutinized in every level of the organization, which would imply that the responsibility of the effects of business activities could be included in the normal decision making procedures of the company's managers. When properly executed and inspected, these factors make up a large portion of the criterion that determines the reputability of a corporation, its managers and its employees.

In accordance with ethical standards, every manager in a corporation is responsible to those whom his or her actions affect. Consequently, since managers' decisions can influence so many diverse aspects of not only the business itself, but of society as a whole, it is critical that management's current level of accountability and responsibility be thoroughly examined.

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