What Ever Happened to Business Ethics?

March 17, 2011 in Entrepreneurship, General by Tania Saba Mazraani

I lately had few interesting meetings, where participants were complaining about Business Ethics or lack of it thereof … in Lebanon. In their mind view, our business population is apparently ethically impaired.

Are we really so?

The Golden Rule is probably “don’t do unto others as you wouldn’t have them do unto you”.

Does this make sense? Entirely.

Is this useful? Not really.

After some research of my own, and to my relief, I found out that many communities, cities, and countries around the world struggle with the issue of business morality, and it is a question of personal rather than national comportment.

But interestingly, in business, unlike personal conduct, there are many people we answer to: our customers, our shareholders, our team members, our suppliers, our bankers, etc. At times, reconciling different concerns may lead to an ethical dilemma. Sometimes, by serving your self-interest, you might be disserving your ethical standards and vice-versa.

If some business ethics are somewhat guided by law, many decisions entrepreneurs must make in every day life, are not. We are often compelled to make judgment calls based on our own moral standards.

If you are ever confronted to situation with ethical implications, you might want to consider some of the following principles to reach an appropriate decision:

  • Honesty
  • Objectivity
  • Legality
  • Openness & Transparency
  • Respect for intellectual property
  • Confidentiality
  • Respect for colleagues
  • Social responsibility
  • Non-discrimination

Depending on your field of business, some might matter more than others. But what matters most, is to clearly communicate your code of conduct to members of your organization, and lead by example. That’s how ethical leaders and entrepreneurs can create responsible business enterprises.

And if you are ever lost again in the meanders of morality, remember to ask yourself this question:

What is the right thing to do?