Antoinette “Toni” Harris January 31, 2011 Ethical and Moral Issues in Business Dictionary. com defines ethics as the body of moral principles or values governing or distinctive of a particular culture or group. The group in the definition could be an organization or business. The word moral is defined as pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong. (Dictionary. com, 2011) An employee of a corporation oftentimes is faced with making a decision that causes them to examine their ethical or moral judgment in executing their decisions.
In this paper, we examine the differences between ethical and moral issues and the differences between personal and business ethics. We also provide real world examples of common ethical problems in business. The difference between ethical and moral issues is as simple as the difference between right and wrong. The major difference between ethics and moral issue is the authority that governs the decision.
Business ethical guidelines are set by the management of the business. Moral guidelines are self-imposed and learned behaviors from parents, associates and religious background.A business owner and the governmental entity where that business resides have the right to determine the business ethics of the corporation. However, the moral issues are decisions that are made by the individual employee based on his or her personal experience. For example, a manager of a restaurant may be faced with an ethical and moral dilemma when a person who is hungry with no money requests a free meal.
As a company employee, it would be unethical for him or her to give away free food. However, as a fellow human being who has sympathy for mankind, his moral being may want to give the person a free meal.Personal and business ethics are two different areas. Trevino and Nelson (2007), defines ethics as—the principles, norms, and standards of conduct governing an individual or group—focuses on conduct. While both deal with right and wrong, a person’s personal ethics deals with what he or she personally believes to be right or wrong. A person’s business ethics are dictated by a corporation’s management. While the individual may believe it is right to do something, the company’s ethics policy may prevent him or her from acting on their personal ethics.For instance, a financial advisor has to have a client sign and initial several forms. After returning to the office and reviewing the forms, the financial advisor notices that the client inadvertently missed a spot where they should have initialed. It would be a business ethics violation for the financial advisor to initial the form on behalf of the client. For the financial advisor, it may not be against his personal ethics to initial the form, because the client more than likely would have initialed the form. However, as an agent of the business, the financial advisor must follow the guidelines of the business’ ethical policy.Although there is a thin line between ethics and morality, the difference is between business and personal. Personally, an individual has a right to decide for themselves what is right and wrong. However, as an employee of a company, when there is a dilemma between personal and business ethics then the ethical guidelines of the corporation should prevail. If an individual feels strongly against a company’s business ethics, then he or she will have to determine if they want to continue to work for that organization because it is unlikely that management will change the ethics of the business.Someone who has strong personal ethical and moral values would probably be better off starting their own business and creating their own business ethics policies.