Business Ethics Paper
In our society today, we are faced with ethical decisions that require our judgment. There are many concepts in ethics, but the definition is narrowed down into two aspects which are right and wrong. Philosophers believe our moral values are our values that guide how we ought to behave which is our ethical guideline. Ethicists believe that there is always a right thing to do based on moral principle. But, on the other hand, there are others who believe the right thing to do depends on a individuals moral values based on a particular situation. In business, ethics is coming to know what is right and wrong in the workplace and doing what is right. Usually when you hear the term business ethics a few things come to mind. Avoid breaking the criminal law in the workplace, not being involved in something that may result in law suits against the company and last but not least, avoid any action that will result in bringing a negative light to the company. Ethics and Social Responsibility are very critical to the success and longevity of any business. There are numerous reasons for businesses to operate in an ethical and socially responsible manner. There are government regulations, corporate belief systems, and basic common sense. There needs to be an overall intent to be ethical and socially responsible in today’s business environment in order to obtain success at any level which explains why in business today there are many corporations that act from an ethical standpoint first.
Utilitarianism is a doctrine that assesses good and evil in terms of the consequences and actions. To a utilitarian, the choice that yields the greatest benefit to the most people is the choice that is ethically correct. There are two types of utilitarianism, act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism. An act utilitarian acts on whether they would maximize pleasure over pain. A rule utilitarian follows procedure in all actions. A rule utilitarian is willing to take a loss if it means acting according to rules and procedure. In the wake of scandals among corporations, it is more important than ever that companies make an effort to push out improper behavior and practices if they wish to stay in business. The downfall of Enron was a great example of the necessity of business ethics within a major corporation. For years, Enron excelled at satisfying one of its goals which was to increase shareholder value. Enron did a mediocre job of serving the common good, and it did nothing to ensure the satisfaction of the numerous stakeholders that supported its business. While some employees were very well compensated, others worked in unsafe conditions. To Enron’s credit, it did greatly benefit the community surrounding its corporate headquarters. Its ultimate failure was that it did not truly increase shareholder value at the rate it reported to. By reporting gross overestimates of actually financial conditions, Enron raised its stock price but also lost future credibility. When the public learned of Enron’s misdeeds, the lost credibility translated into a lack of trust and a loss of customer business and financial credit. If Enron had honestly reported its financial condition all along, the gigantic bankruptcy could and would have been avoided.
A theory that is similar to utilitarianism is the principal of enlightened self-interest. This principal can be seen as the realization that it is in each individual's best interest to attend to the interests of the community at large and vice versa the community serves the needs of the individual. By protecting the interests of the whole community, we in fact protect our own interests. Enlightened self-interest constitutes to the core of American society. Rather than requiring a large sacrifice from someone, this idea has members of society giving up a little to benefit everyone in the community. For example, in 2000, the