Challenges in Ethical Business
Issues and debates related to ethics arise in every stage of business. Application of business ethics considerably relies on the environment.
Ethics, Economics, and Politics are closely related to each other. Hence, they should be studied integrated together and in relation to each other and not individually. The study individual pursuit of prosperity through markets is termed as economics. There are three dimensions of economics, which are growth, efficiency, and stability. The community’s pursuit of justice through means of government is termed as politics. The justice pursued is more specifically individual freedom, equity in the distribution of benefits and burdens, and maintaining of social order. Application of ethics can be both helped and distracted by the economic and political environment.
Workplace-Safety is a very important part of business ethics and not knowing the workplace rules may prove to be costlier than usually understood. Causing harm to customers or members of the public can make you liable for the damages caused. The legal issues should be solved by the organization in a legal manner. To lead the industry, an organization should know all legal outcomes of every possible situations.
Reputation and the image of a business is very important as it can make or break a company. The more reputed the company, the more the profit. Therefore, organizations should take into consideration the image problems associated with legal process.
There are usually a set of rules and procedures established by the government for business processes. Businesses that do not follow these rules and guidelines often face penalties. It also can lead to costly legal battles which may out cost maintaining legal standards. Executives at companies breaking the law and engaging in unethical behavior can find themselves facing criminal charges.
It is necessary for all the co-founders of an organization to share common business values, principles, and ethics. Otherwise, they will face difficulty later in areas such as securing funding or even finding clients for the business. Also organizations must be ethical in employment processes so that the employ the right candidate without any discrimination.
Ethics in the modern age
The old and obsolete classical business theories, does not apply to doing business in this modern times. Since internet and communication technologies are increasing in popularity and application, it is important for business organizations to address the ethical issues that comes along with technological progress. A mere knowledge about the problems is not enough in this context; steps and measures should be taken to minimize the negative effects of technological progress.
The major issues related to cyber ethics are divided into five categories namely a) Privacy, b) Property, c) Security, d) Accuracy and e) Accessibility.
Privacy is an ethical and moral concept. It is a sense that there is an area in a person’s life that is completely under his/her control, which is free from outside intrusion. With respect to business, privacy can be ensured by making sure that there is a limited access to the individual’s and organization’s information. Abuse of private information can lead to fraud and impersonation. One related issue is identity theft which is caused by the unrestricted access of private information on the internet.
It is argued by many that the internet is based on concept of freedom of information. However, there is an issue of ownership when the shared information is a property of an individual or organization. Sharing of copies of .mp3 files or music files through services such as torrents are an example. Although the information can be accessed free of cost, the shared information are properties of individuals or organizations and is a violation of copyright. Other examples are illegal sharing of trademarked and patented information.
Security concerns in business has been an issue for long. The debate is on whether we should safeguard the individual rights or work for the common good of the community. There has been lots of discussions concerning the boundaries of these two ideas and the question that is making compromises in this regard is right. The amount of personal data available online is increasing as countless people connect to the internet which increases the chance for identity thefts, hacking and cyber-crimes.
There is also arguments regarding the ownership of the internet and the right to regulate it and its contents which is very complicated as countless people and large amounts of data are associated with the internet.
Another issue is the accuracy of the information available on the internet. The question is who is responsible for the authenticity of the information available online. As internet is a platform for freely expressing ones views, it is extremely difficult to control the information and ensure its accuracy. It is difficult to hold someone accountable for the damage caused due to erroneous information.
The issue regarding accessibility of information comes into picture when the argument is regarding censorship and filtering of online data. The question is whether people should be allowed to freely access information or should they be protected from information that the governing bodies fell as harmful or illegal. Also there is issue regarding filtering of information displayed to minors. Accessibility restrictions are applied at different levels when one accesses the information online. At a lower level, we see companies blocking certain sites which are of only personal use and can negatively influence productivity. At a higher level, there are regulations or firewalls put up by governments to restrict their citizen accessing online content, often from foreign countries.