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What Is the Relationship between Business Ethics and Values?

Business ethics and values are intertwined, forming the moral compass of a company. Ethics dictate fair conduct, while values embody core beliefs driving decisions. Together, they shape a business's integrity and reputation. How does your company's ethical framework reflect its values? Join the conversation to understand the impact on your brand's legacy.
Esther Ejim
Esther Ejim

The relationship between business ethics and values refers to the manner in which good ethics can be applied toward the attainment of the values of a company. While business ethics is more concerned with issues of morality and integrity, business values are more focused on the ideals of the company or the way in which it wishes to conduct its affairs. In a sense, business values are more obligatory on the employees than business ethics due to the fact that ethics are more inborn whereas business values are more defined and also usually incorporated into the corporate objectives of an organization.

An example of the link between business ethics and values can be seen in the area of punctuality. Businesses usually have a stated time when employees are expected to resume their duties for the day. This might be in the form of shifts or in the form of a more permanent work schedule. The relationship between business ethics and values lies in how the employees in question keep to the time schedule. A clear demonstration of this can be seen in a situation where employees are expected to fill in their time of arrival themselves manually, rather than through an automated system that would clock them in at their exact time of arrival. Ethically, they should fill in the exact time of arrival, even when late, though some employees might try to take advantage of the organization by regressing their time of arrival backward.

Punctuality may demonstrate the relationship between business ethics and values.
Punctuality may demonstrate the relationship between business ethics and values.

Another area for the exploration of the link between business ethics and values is in the area of the utilization of resources in an organization by the employees. If one of the values of the company is to utilize all of its resources to the maximum limit, a case where the top management of the organization would award huge bonuses to themselves might be viewed as both unethically greedy and contrary to the values of the organization. Such a scenario might even be worse if the company fails to make an appreciable profit for that business quarter, yet the managers still award extravagant bonuses to themselves to the detriment of the shareholders and other employees. The ethical application of the organization’s value would mean that the company leaders would practice more restraint and a better management of the company’s resources, for the good of the organization and not for their personal satisfaction.

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Discussion Comments


When employees are engaging in unethical practices, management can warn them and make sure that they do things according to that company's values. But when management do things that are unethical, then I think it's difficult for that behavior to change. Employees are often afraid of management, people don't want to lose their jobs.

I think that business ethics and values has to be from the top down. It has to start with management.


@serenesurface-- I agree with you but I don't think that business ethics and values are separate or that ethics are ignored. Usually, business values are based on ethics rules. We can think about ethics as the backbone of business values. Values stem from ethics, so the two cannot be separated.


I don't understand why business values are more important for businesses than business ethics. I also don't understand why these two ideas are considered separately.

I'm not an expert on this topic but I believe that business ethics and values go hand in hand. If a business follows ethical rules, then I suspect that it also has values and treats everyone fairly. A business that gives high regard to ethical operations and ethical treatment of employees, customers and the environment cannot go wrong.

Perhaps we need to shift our attention to ethics rather then business values that each business decides on themselves. Because ethics are universal and instinctive and can guide us correctly in all types of decision-making.

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    • Punctuality may demonstrate the relationship between business ethics and values.
      By: Mi.Ti.
      Punctuality may demonstrate the relationship between business ethics and values.