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What are Basic Business Ethics Concepts?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated: May 16, 2024

The most basic business ethics concepts can be summed up as the values of honesty, integrity and fairness. The exact behavior will depend on the country and the company. Honesty has to do with ethical advertising and a reasonable cost for the quality of the product or service as well as the company keeping its word to everyone it deals with and in everything it does. Integrity covers a wide range of ethics, but includes issues such as social and environmental responsibility. Fairness is one of the very basic concepts in business ethics in that it can refer to the simplest form of treating all people in commercial dealings, whether buyers, employees or customers, fairly.

Fairness in business dealings means being objective and having an interest in creating a win-win situation for both parties whether that is employer-employee or company-client. The basic business ethics concepts of fairness can be tested through the analysis of negotiations and commercial dealings from both parties by an objective observer. Sometimes referred to as a fair playing field, ethical business dealings should be profitable or beneficial for both parties. Ethical business concepts of fair play include the fact that profit must be made, but not at the expense of deception.

Integrity in business includes the social aspect of being considerate and fair to others while at the same time realizing a profit. It also means keeping agreements and promises. Whether an employer promises an employee a raise or a vendor agrees to supply top quality merchandise, the basic business ethics concepts of integrity mean keeping one's word and following through. Dependability and telling the truth are basic integrity ethics concepts that are used in all aspects of business from serving customers to hiring and firing employees.

Honesty applies to every part of running a business while making a profit. Honesty also relates to fairness and integrity as it means telling the truth to others. Honest businesses sell quality products at reasonable prices. They make a profit through ethical business strategies rather than trying to take advantage of others through dishonest pricing.

Personal ethics are usually considered as the foundation for running ethical businesses. Basic business ethics concepts should flow down from the top ownership and management of a company to all workers. Leadership ethics also influence customer relations and how well the values are enforced in the workplace environment.

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Discussion Comments
By latte31 — On Dec 17, 2010

Bhutan-I never thought about that. Ethics and business also revolve around honesty.

Companies that are unethical might resort to bribes in order to get on a preferred vendor list. They usually blur the lines of business and personal circumstances and often finding themselves in compromising situations.

If you live your life honestly you will find that you are less likely to face moral dilemmas because you will usually know what to do and make the right decision.

However, not everyone’s moral compass is that clear and this is the reason why corporate ethics need to be discussed and studied at length.

By Bhutan — On Dec 16, 2010

Sunshine31-I think this is why many companies have policies against anyone in the company dating especially if one of the members in the relationship is also a member of management.

The company party is another example, which is why some companies limit the amount of alcohol served, or offer alcohol during events at a hotel where the employees can spend the night if they need to.

By sunshine31 — On Dec 15, 2010

Suntan12- Many of these types of cases that fail normal business ethical standards are not only humiliating for the company but incredibly costly.

Most of these cases are settled out of court for undisclosed sums because no company wants the negative publicity regarding the case, and juries are more likely to punish the company with additional punitive damages as a result. The importance of business ethics can not be underscored.

By suntan12 — On Dec 13, 2010

Business ethics concepts and cases are usually studied in business school or in management classes.

Business ethics management is so crucial that many companies offer their form of business ethics training.

Even though ethics are really a part of one’s values and should be automatic, dishonesty is on the rise and companies suffer greatly because of it.

As a preventive measure companies usually offer business ethics training.

It is important for members of management to adhere to appropriate ethical standards because if they don’t there may be additional legal ramifications.

For example, if a company has a Christmas Party or some other type of festive function in which a member of the company becomes intoxicated and gets into an accident and kills someone, not only is the employee liable, but so is the company.

Likewise if a sexual relationship ensues between a member of management and an employee, the employee may claim sexual harassment at a later date. The manager has no defense and again the company is liable.

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