Maximising Business Income and Ethics Business ethics are “principles and standards that determine acceptable conduct in business organisations.”1 In part, business ethics can arise from corporate social responsibility or it can also be the other way around.2 Are maximising business income and operating ethically compatible?…
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Selling the product may have to imply that we have to lie a bit so our products can have a broader appeal. If we become too truthful, sales may dwindle. Putting ethics into a company’s business life may allow good income but it would not maximise income. Companies who adopt ethical behaviour lose flexibility. They are unable to adjust inputs consistent with the least cost combinations and use ethics instead choosing inputs. Thus, ethics and maximising business income are incompatible. Against the position, I submit six key points. First, today’s businesses are being conducted in a situation wherein consumers are more careful of what they buy and are looking into the ethical conduct and the environmental and social impacts of business corporations. One can identify at least two concerns that emphasises the importance for businesses to adopt a code of ethics. One concern pertains to the environment. Consumers are increasingly being concerned that what they consume are causing impacts on the environment. It was even anticipated that ethics, including environmental ethics, would constitute as a key concern of businesses in the current millennium.3 Consumers are also concerned that the businesses from which they are getting their products and services are not causing much destruction on the environment and preferably even protecting the environment. Consumers concern on the matter is so intense that oftentimes they have called for boycotts on businesses that they believe to have damaged the environment. A second concern pertains to “male oppression” and “sexual harassment.” Feminists among the consumers are also ready to call for boycotts once they perceive that a particular business is tolerating acts within workplaces that are considered “sexual harassment.” There are other concerns, of course, like employment of child workers, union-busting, and the like but the first two concerns are those which appear to have a relatively large following today. Perhaps, it needs no elaboration that when businesses commit acts that damage the environment or are perceived to be gender oppressive, consumers are agitated and hit back at businesses through various ways. Second, ethical business promotes happy employees as well as employee retention and employee productivity. Although research results are not immediately available, it appears reasonable that ethical business can promote employee retention and productivity (Coldwell and colleagues attempted to work on the link between ethics and retention in 2008). Ethical business operation can boost employee morale and becomes a source of pride for employees. It appears reasonable that the ethical operations can promote retention and employees with longer work experience in the company can be retained in the company. The retention of experienced employees will in turn promote business organisation productivity. Especially as company business ethics are transformed into company reputation, work morale is also boosted and this can likely improve employee productivity. Third, there are laws that obligate business to be ethical in their business conduct. For example, for contracts to be valid, enforceable, and legally binding, some of the requirements that can also involve ethical conduct in a contract is that the contract
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