The Decline of Ethical Behavior in Business

These days what is considered truly ethical? It seems like the fine line between ethical and unethical is becoming a blur to many business professionals. In 2006, a study reported that MBA graduate students cheat the most on tests when compared to any other graduate non-business students. That is a pretty scary thought because people with MBA’s tend to enter the business world and some with a dog-eat-dog attitude may stop at nothing to win status and recognition and throw ethics right on the back burner. Worldwide we have witnessed many unethical behaviors as certain corporations are implicated in unethical dealings. Some well-known situations include the massive Italian television company Mediaset who attempted to double the tax rate of its main competitor just to get further ahead. Furthermore, many people cringed as they heard the recent news that Philip Morris attempted to persuade the U.S. government to abandon its lawsuit for allegedly concealing the true dangers of cigarettes to the general public. Are these behaviors ethical? Is there a group of people out there paroling the business world for unethical dealings? Why have we transitioned into a cold, hard world of greed and money and where are the values instilled to us by older generations?

Why is Ethical Behavior Important?

Even though it is easy for many business professionals to overlook ethics, the truth is that ethics have a more powerful existence within the business sector than one may think. First off, the definition of ethics can be described as a moral set of principles that govern the behavior of a person or group of people. The term ethical is often used interchangeably with the term moral. When a business implements strong ethical behaviors it helps build positive company and employee rapport and also earns the respect of the public. A company who engages in snide acts just to get ahead or watch out only for themselves is also viewed that way by the public, selfish or unethical. Once you throw mud on a good name it’s hard to get it clean again. So when a company’s unethical dealings become public knowledge the majority of that company’s customer base will discontinue service or dealings with them and move onto another company, thus causing hardship to the unethical company. Consumers want to feel good about the purchases and services they are purchasing and when they purchase from a good company who is viewed positively it makes it all that much more pleasant for the customer and they in turn also recommend that company’s products or services to others.

Solutions to Unethical Behaviors

Business professionals wanting to uphold the values of ethics should proactive and make sure to establish internal methods for checking and securing data. For example, systems and procedures should be assessed periodically based on day-to-day reporting data and time should also be taken to review databases for validity. Another great tactic to put into place is to encourage management to attend educational seminars focusing on ethical decision-making within the business world. Seminars on ethics tend to be hands-on with many personal interactions with other professionals to really help build that positive rapport, something in which they will want to build with and instill within their own employees.

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