In recent years, business ethics has become an important topic of debate. Over the last decade alone there have been numerous cases of corporate fraud that have shaken public confidence in society and the global financial system. Some of the most important events include WorldCom and Enron frauds; Ponzi scheme carried out by Bernard Madoff and the recent accusations of misleading investors by Goldman Sachs, for its own corporate monetary gain. Such incidents made all of us as business leaders and future leaders to think about ethics and its role in world trade (Gross, 2010).
Business ethics is a notion linked to the knowledge about what is ethically acceptable and or agreeable in the workplace. Ethics itself is a subjective concept: what can be considered ethical in one culture can be seen in the other as unethical. Sometimes things may be legal, in one country and may not be legal in another. Ethics can be affected by economic conditions, cultural background, historical events and other such factors. Like price fixing is against the law to carry out in our country (US Legal, 2010), but in many countries it is still officially and ethically tolerable. It should be noted that being legal is not a confirmation of ethical: There are many actions that are legal, but ethically wrong as the apartheid law followed in South Africa that enforced racial and economical discrimination between the races was declare to be ethically wrong but still legally permissible.
Ethics are grouped into four types: character, responsibility, results and fairness. Character refers to what is right rather than doing what they can do (Copp, 2005).
The responsibilities decide whether actions are right or wrong, instead of looking at whether the results are good or bad (Copp, 2005).
Results allude to the idea that the action has a moral value which can be measured by the joy and happiness that is brought to the greatest number of people (Copp, 2005).
Lastly, justness alludes to the use of one’s experiences on a daily basis, as a basis for decision-making. As it depends on personal understanding, this is rather subjective in its assessment of the difference between good and bad (Copp, 2005).
This article examines the function that ethics and social responsibility play in implementing corporate strategy. I also talk about my own ethical standpoint and observe how it altered because of my studies at University of Phoenix.
Ethics, Social Responsibility and Strategic Planning
Companies exist and function in society and countries. This makes the companies and their leaders responsible for planning and implementing their strategies carefully. Companies who are aware of their social responsibilities have an ethic in mind when developing and implementing strategic plans and in carrying out their daily procedures.
There are four types of social responsibility: a) economic, b) legal, c) discretionary (Pearce & Robinson, 2009).
Economic responsibilities are the most fundamental, especially in the corporations built to gain profit. Business leaders and managers are expected to maximize the value of increasing shareholder profits. Simultaneously company has to provide goods and services at practical prices, create jobs and pay taxes and thus contribute to the economy on the whole (Pearce & Robinson, 2009).
Legal accountability alludes to the commitment of the organization to function within the limits set by the existing laws and regulations. For instance, it is estimated that the organization will not discriminate against employees or potential employees on grounds such as age, sex, race, etc. In addition, companies must comply with laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, and other criminal and civil laws (Pearce & Robinson, 2009).
Ethical responsibilities rise above legal obligations and to talk about the orderly and appropriate measures (Pearce & Robinson, 2009).
Examination requirements are made voluntarily. They consist of things like blood drives and other operations or activities that display social responsibility and good citizenship. These actions have a tendency to create a good reputation with the public and generate good public relations (Pearce & Robinson, 2009). For instance, last year the University of Phoenix attended the month-long journey to collect school equipments in Portland, Oregon, it was a good example of discretionary behavior associated with social obligations and good citizenship (OnPoint , 2009.) this action presented a positive image of the University in public.
My own point of view of ethics
Derived from the results of the research by “Williams Institute of Ethics Awareness Inventory” and the “Institute Ethical Choices in the Workplace” (University of Phoenix, 2010), my ethical point of view falls into the category of "duty." Duty "is a legal requirement that a reasonable person is morally expected to do" (University of Phoenix, 2010).
In this view, things are performed because they are the right things to be done. The results cannot validate the actions no matter how beneficial they are. I fully agree with the idea, because I believe that our measures of work should not be focused on finding only a personal advantage over others.
Although my ethics or ethical point of view has not changed as a result of my graduate studies, the complex readings about leadership made me realize that the conduct that contradicts Ethics can do much harm to many people, not only those immediately around in the corporation, but also people in the society. For example, as a result of Bernard Madoff’s ponzi fraud, charities have lost a lot of money. It is clear that even people who have no assets to invest in the stock market will be hurt by the unethical activities business of some firms.
Furthermore, opportunistic behavior or unethical attitude towards work destroys the morale and loyalty of the employees. This may make it more difficult for an organization to succeed, and opens it to legal actions and negative exposure.
This document explains the role, ethics and social responsibility in the organization. It is a concept that should be taken into consideration in the preparation and implementation of strategic plans. I also described my own ethical standpoint.
Ethics and social responsibility are key elements of long-term success of any organization. Corporations that are deemed unethical have little public confidence and suffer from low employee satisfaction. Finally, these unethical activities by the management lead to collapse of the organization.