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What are Common American Business Ethics?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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American business ethics are based around the idea that it is possible to maximize wealth and profit while also being committed to upholding values and laws. Many commercial ethics concepts used regularly within the United States span a wide range of business functions and departments. General professional conduct, social values, anti-discrimination, fair labor standards, financial responsibility and honest marketing are among the most common American business ethics.

Refraining from using misleading advertising when marketing products or services is one of the most common American business ethics. Companies who advertise products or services in any medium, whether online, print, radio or television, are considered unethical if their commercials or ads misrepresent their offers in any way to the public. For instance, one type of misleading advertising is the "bait and switch" in which upon ordering the advertised product, the consumer is sent a different item of lesser quality yet told to pay the same price or more.

All types of companies in the United States, whether small businesses or large corporations, are expected to keep accurate financial records and pay taxes that are due. Financial responsibility is one of the most basic business ethics; sales records and receipts must be properly accounted for to produce accurate profit or loss statements. Ethical labor relations is another common concept expected by all types and sizes of American companies. Businesses are expected to treat employees ethically by providing a safe workplace with reasonable work hours and conditions. Anti-discrimination in hiring practices is one of the most hard-fought American business ethics in terms of both women and racial minorities.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a popular form of American business ethics. It basically means that a company carefully considers its manufacturing sources. Social ethics include not supporting child or slave labor. Environmental concerns are also a common form of CSR; many companies today use packaging from recycled sources and paper from non-threatened forests. CSR values are often used in many marketing campaigns in the United States as well as other countries.

A wide variety of professional conduct ethics are common throughout the United States. Bribery, in which someone in a business is paid personally rather than professionally to use the company services or put a person ahead to receive something other customers must wait for, is considered unethical in America. Insider trading is another of the most common American business ethics. This refers to a stockholder selling or buying based on the unfair advantage of having inside information rather than through the way other stockholders are informed.

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Discussion Comments
By SlickeNumber — On Mar 17, 2014

You hear about child labor being used or terrible working conditions far too often with companies like Nike or Apple. How much of it is true? I'm not entirely sure, but I'm sure it exists. If not with them, then with other major companies. It's sad, really, these companies that make so much money become so greedy and look for any possible, unethical way to save.

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