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What Is the Relationship between Business Ethics and Globalization?

Esther Ejim
Esther Ejim

Considerations about business ethics are derived from the desire for the application of basic moral codes in the conduct of the different aspects of business. As such, the relationship between business ethics and globalization refers to the manner in which the concept of globalization and its application to business operations can benefit from the practice of proper business ethics. Since the growth of globalization has led to a rise in the branching out of companies into various counties in the world, ethical business standards help ensure that such operations are rooted in integrity and applicable values. The challenge in the subject of business ethics and globalization is derived from the fact that while some basic moral codes are understood to be universal, some of the specific ethical standards are dictated by the environment, making it essential for companies to understand their market and the ethical requirements that may be unique to that area.

Business ethics and globalization are firmly rooted in the concept of diversity among people and practices as well as the fact that such diversity need not be an impediment since it can be channeled by the company in question into a source of competitive advantage. As such, companies that diversify into other countries and cultures must necessarily develop a master plan that is aimed toward providing a general framework establishing the ethical views of the company and integrating it into the culture of the corporation. This master plan will only be a general guide that will also make provisions for situations where beliefs and societal practices in place in some areas call for a variation of the ethical code. A good example of this can be seen in the case of a company that provides an equal playing field for everyone, regardless or belief or gender.

Conflicts between business ethic and globalization may crop up around the roles of women in the workplace.
Conflicts between business ethic and globalization may crop up around the roles of women in the workplace.

Assuming a company were to open a branch in a country where women do not have the same freedoms women in other parts of the world take for granted, that company must adjust its ethical code to reflect the culture in that area, even if it might only be an exception, rather than their normal corporate culture. In such a situation, the company might have a vast majority of male employees, something that it would not allow in other societies, but something that it must allow in that particular society due to the politics of business ethics and globalization. The consideration here would be that of expediency, because the culture of the people in that area do not allow women to have the kind of freedom that would allow the company’s business ethics to be implemented. In order to carry out business in that area, the company would have to adjust its ethics or take its business elsewhere so that the culture will not clash with its corporate ethics.

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Discussion Comments


@Fa5t3r - It's the same as sweat shops. We might be shocked by the conditions, but if they didn't exist the people working there would simply not have a job and their lives would be worse.

On the other hand, there is no reason that companies can't do the ethical thing and simply raise the standards of all their workplaces, around the world. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.


@Ana1234 - On the one hand, I think that women should of course be treated equally. But on the other, you've got to recognize that this just isn't happening in some countries.

Now if, say, a fast food restaurant wants to set up in a country where there are laws against women in power (fewer and fewer countries can actually say that these days) then they've got to decide whether they will abide by local laws and perhaps provide a lot of jobs to local families or refuse to abide by local laws and not set up business there at all.

The US can expect to have their customs respected in diplomatic situations because all countries should be able to expect that. With business it is a far more complicated issue.


It's kind of an interesting question as to how a company should act when it comes to setting up business in another country. Is it actually ethical to not hire women just because they don't have as many rights in the new place? I have a friend who works in a US embassy and he once told me that the US is really stubborn about things like this, as well they should be. If a woman is the best person for a diplomatic position they will give it to her, regardless of what the host country thinks and if they don't like it, they don't have to do business with America.

I mean, what if the CEO of a company happens to be female. Do they just never mention her when discussing work with the people in the new country?

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    • Conflicts between business ethic and globalization may crop up around the roles of women in the workplace.
      By: Rob
      Conflicts between business ethic and globalization may crop up around the roles of women in the workplace.