Achieving Ethics in Business

Cite this article as:"Achieving Ethics in Business," in The Business Professor, updated January 30, 2015, last accessed October 22, 2020,


What are the obstacles to ethical business practice?

  • There are obstacles to ethical corporate behavior that deserve serious consideration.

–The emphasis on profit, “the bottom line,” can promote unethical behavior within a large business organization, especially when senior executives order line managers to produce profit or else.

–Another obstacle is the willingness of individuals to act unethically in a large group when they would never do so alone.

  • Ethical business practice is frustrated by modern business corporations that gives managers access and control over resources owned ultimately by the shareholders.

–Example, Tyco, Lehman Brothers bank failure, Enron, HealthSouth


What are the steps to promoting ethical business practice?

  • Top Management

–Top management must act as a role model for values it wishes corporate employees to share.

  • Employees owe loyalty to his or her immediate supervisor.
  • Career advancement for the employee is typically tied to that of the superior.

–In spite of whatever code of ethics a corporation may have on paper, employees tend to adopt top management’s real values.

  • Openness in Communication

–To accomplish an ethical corporation there must be an open and continuing dialogue on ethics.

  • Code of Conduct
  • Reporting Procedure and Policy
  • Consideration of all Stakeholders

–The consequentialist ethics known as stakeholder theory maintains that ethical corporate behavior depends on managers who recognize and take into account the various stakeholder whose interests the corporation impacts.

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