Why It Matters: Ethics In Business

Why learn about encouraging ethical behavior and the laws that support ethical corporate practices?

Photograph of a comfortably large home. The exterior is a soft blue, and the interior windows show that lights are on inside the house.Luke is a real estate agent and is currently under negotiation on a four bedroom home outside the city. Luke is representing the seller, but in attempts to increase his commission he has also agreed to represent the buyer. Although he is representing both the buyer and the seller, he is a long-time friend of the seller and therefore prioritizes their needs and demands. This creates an ethical dilemma since he is representing both sides of the transaction and acting in a biased way throughout the process. Unfortunately, in a situation like this, there is no way to avoid a bias. It is impossible for Luke to equally fight for the desires of each client, and he is therefore not acting in an ethical way. Although his decisions may be legal, they are not ethical.

Not operating ethically can get a company or individual in a lot of trouble. While sometimes trouble presents itself in the form of a lawsuit, other issues may also arise when ethics is not at the forefront of a company’s operations. Unethical behavior can negatively impact a company’s productivity, profitability, and company culture. Ethics needs to be a large focus throughout all levels of a company and should be enforced and reiterated on a regular basis.

Understanding what business ethics entail will prepare you to enter into the workforce and help guide you to make smart decisions throughout your career. Although many people think ethics is simply deciding between right and wrong, the business world can sometimes complicate that a little bit. It is important to remember that just because something is legal does not mean it is ethical.  This module will help you to identify ethical behavior and give some insight into the consequences of not acting ethically.