The Importance of Ethics in Business
When business are engaged in multinational activities, a variety of important issues arise that do not have the same easy answers as are offered by doing business in only one area of legal jurisdiction or nation. Because of this dilemma that is increasingly plaguing the large multinational corporations, international business ethics has arisen to help address these sticky subject matters. International business ethics attempts to deal with questions of what to do in situations where ethical morals come into conflict as a result of the differing cultural practices.
Susie Wilson-Etiquette Expert
ETIQUETTE & ETHICS
Ethic (n) 1.a. A set of principles of right conduct. b. A theory or a system of moral values.
2. ethics. The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession.
Etiquette (n). The practices and forms prescribed by social convention or by authority. The codes
governing correct behaviour. Forms of conduct as prescribed in polite society.
ETIQUETTE AND ETHICS IN BUSINESS
● The Importance of Ethics in
When business are engaged in multinational activities, a variety of important issues arise
that do not have the same easy answers as are offered by doing business in only one area of
legal jurisdiction or nation. Because of this dilemma that is increasingly plaguing the large
multinational corporations, international business ethics has arisen to help address these
sticky subject matters. International business ethics attempts to deal with questions of what
to do in situations where ethical morals come into conflict as a result of the differing
There are many international business ethics discussions going on that believe the question of
how to behave in the home country versus the host country are the central point. The argument in
favor of behaving according to host country socially accepted morals shows respect both to the
citizens and the culture of the hosting country in which the business is conducting affairs. Such
an argument would tell the business to follow the ancient world adage: When in Rome, do as the
Romans do, not simply for etiquette, but also for business ethics. The other side of the argument
counters with questions of what a business representative should do when socially accepted
norms are morally repugnant to the cultural values of the business' home.
As an example, in many Latin American countries, bribing public officials is necessary for doing
business. Does this countenance the multinational corporation representatives doing the same out
of respect for the host country, or instead argue against participating as it is morally repugnant to
the home country of the business in question?
A middle ground approach emerges as central to international business ethics. This lies in
creating a list of internationally accepted morals that should be consulted in the performance of
multinational business dealings. As an example, the United National Global Compact, or the
older UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, would be put forward as an appropriate
conduct guide for international business ethics.
ETIQUETTE AND ETHICS IN BUSINESS
The United Nations Global Compact encourages business everywhere to advance and honor the
internationally accepted human rights, to uphold the right of collective bargaining, to avoid being
involved with human rights' abuses, to have no part in compulsory human labor, to do away with
child labor, to support a caring and cautious approach to the environment, to reduce any kind of
employment discrimination, to encourage the creation of technologies that are friendly to the
environment, to encourage more significant personal environmental responsibility, and to work
to stamp out corruption in all of its many ugly guises, such as bribery and extortion.
Other justice or moral ground theories create different lists of ethical practices for multinational
corporations conducting business in countries featuring lower levels of development. One
source, DeGeorge, called in 1993 for ten guidelines for the behavior of multinational
corporations in other countries. Among these were avoiding harm, honoring human rights,
affecting good, respecting local cultures, accepting the responsibilities for individual behaviors,
working fairly with honorable institutions and governments, and ensuring that dangerous
technologies and factories are made safe for workers and the community.
Although such intentions are good and honorable, there are still three different problems with
such approaches to international business ethics. First, they ignore or avoid the reality of
competition. A real life example involves a company trying to do business honorably in a
country that takes and accepts bribes as a regular part of doing business. The business wants to
help improve the environment as they do their business, but refuses to pay the government
officials bribes. Licenses can not be secured from the governmental officials since no bribes are
paid. Market share begins to erode, along with the purpose for having operations placed in the
country, as competitors without scruples pay their bribes without any moral restrictions. The
company will have to decide which moral is more important, refusing to endorse corruption in
paying bribes, or staying to help improve the environment and employ the locales through
paying the necessary bribes.
A second limitation to such list approaches lies in them only replicating the home country versus
host country question that they are supposed to answer. Since the one list advocated working
with just institutions and governments, the argument comes full circle again. Whose morals or
sense of justice will determine if such entities are just and should be cooperated with or not?
Finally, respect for moral norms and local cultures have to come from some culture's concept of
justice. Those of the west for ethics, fairness, and justice in general are the ones that are
commonly sourced. Clashes between host and home countries must be resolved by some
culture's guidelines, whether Western or non-Western.
ETIQUETTE AND ETHICS IN BUSINESS
As the process of globalisation has increased its pace and depth, the problem and need for
international business ethics has only intensified. With falling communication and transaction
costs that are encouraged by telecommunication and computer technology advances, the global
market has recently become a truly global marketplace. Multinational business is more often the
standard and not the exception. This is particularly the case where the production of cars, clothes,
shoes, and commodity types of goods are concerned.
For a business owner, there is a very fine line between doing what's best for the profitability of
the company and crossing the line over into the unethical. While many may argue that there is no
place for personal values in the dog eat dog world of business, the truth is that ethics can make or
break a growing business in a number of ways. Business ethics is far from the only thing that
must be addressed for entrepreneurs.
It is generally accepted that society values ethics from their businesses. Companies are boycotted
for unethical behavior and profits go down as does consumer trust in the company. When
consumers and clients feel they cannot trust a business, their natural reaction is to end their
loyalty in that business which in turn, lowers the company's profits. If a company can maintain
their clients’ loyalty by acting reasonably and ethically while still remaining in the black
financially- no small feat for even the most moral business owner- they will find continued
success as the business grows and expands.
But how exactly does a business remain ethical? The question is one asked time and time again
and often there is no clear answer. The ethics of a business are determined by those running it,
and understanding the concept does not make for an ethical business owner. This goes for all
employees and not just a CEO. Because of this many ethical business will perform a criminal
record check for all new job applicants. He or she must have strong moral values and beliefs and
have a determination to uphold those beliefs before even entering into the business world. The
person must also have a strong character and be able to handle challenging situations. Oftentimes
it is a difficult decision to choose between doing what is ethical and doing what is best for the
business. Take the example of the small business phone system industry. Telecom is a necessity
in every person's life and the industry is of course aware of this. During a seller's market- that is,
there are more buyers than sellers, reducing the variety of choice available to the customer- if a
store maintains their prices and does not increase to take advantage of the consumers who have
little other choice, they will gain the respect and loyalty of their customers during the subsequent
buyer's markets, when consumers have more choices for shopping and stores are generally
competing for customers. The stores that remained fair to their customers even when they could
have raised profits by acting unethically, increase their profitability in the long run.
Business ethics can also relate to how we behave in other professional settings outside of our
own place or work when we ourselves are the customer. Honesty and integrity are just as
important in these situations.
ETIQUETTE AND ETHICS IN BUSINESS
However, if the owners are responsible and share the financial hardships with their employees,
with those on the upper rungs taking pay cuts and laying of a reasonable number of lower rung
workers, both the employees and customers will have nothing but respect for the company and
will be much more willing to support it, with hard work from the former and higher profits from
the latter. While it is the choice of the owners of a business whether or not to remain ethical, it is
certainly better in the long run for profits and consumer and employee loyalty to operate with
ethics in mind at all times.
About Susie Wilson
SUSIE WILSON - FOUNDER-DIRECTOR
AUSTRALIA’S LEADING ETIQUETTE & FINISHING EXPERT
ANTOINETTE CHAMPAGNE FINISHING SCHOOL, MELBOURNE
Ms Wilson is a motivational modern etiquette expert, sought out industry leader, accomplished
speaker and owner of Antoinette Champagne Finishing School of Melbourne, a company specialising
in executive leadership and etiquette.
"Society creates “norms” and it is human nature to want to meet those norms. Following my methods
takes the concept further; standout, shine and flourish with that extra polish and sophistication."
With origins dating back to London’s Victorian Age, founder and director of Antoinette Champagne
Finishing School, Susie Wilson, is the epitome of old modern day and deportment.
An expert in her field, Susie has presented countless seminars to corporate executives, business
organisations, academia, private clubs, and individuals of all ages. She is dedicated to providing her
clients with the most up-to-date etiquette and finishing training relevant to today’s modern society.