Business Ethics vs Personal Ethics
What is Ethics? The term ‘Ethics’ boils down to ‘knowing the difference between what is right and wrong’. But this right and wrong are different from person to person. Enron scandal left a deep scar on the business community. The fall of Enron was solely not the responsibility of manipulation of numbers, but also, business and personal ethics of people as they could not/did not report these findings immediately. Is business ethics built on personal ethics? Philosophy of business aims to determine the fundamental purpose of a company, and this is reflected in Business ethics.
Business Ethics come into play when the business has to make a conscious decision on its dilemmas (e.g.: harassment, employee relations, discrimination etc). Hence Business Ethics or Corporate Ethics can be quoted as the set of behaviour and disciple that a business follows in its activities. It is everyone’s hope that businesses choose to do what is right / ethical. But as businesses are driven by profit, and as businesses grow the greed to achieve more increases, which drives the businesses to fall off its ethical behaviors. E.g.: Fall of Enron – which is not solely on its financial systems, but lack of business ethics. Managers in companies are at times coming across ethical dilemmas where business ethics have to be looked into.
Personal Ethics could be defined as what a person believes to be right. This varies from person to person as these are influenced by culture, beliefs, experience, law and religion. Example of one’s personal ethics could be, being transparent and open to an extent, telling the truth, etc.
What is the difference between Business Ethics and Personal Ethics?
Though personal ethics has an influence on business ethics, at times, actions that are in accordance with business ethics might fall short of meeting personal ethics. i.e. an incident/activity, which is deemed ethical in terms of business would not fall into the area of personal ethics. Hence, the difference exists on different person’s view on personal and business ethics.
Harmony should exist between Personal Ethics and Business Ethics for a better work – life balance. Conflict exists between personal ethics and business ethics as in, a person’s ethics might not allow him/her to act according to the business ethics. E.g.: An employee’s personal ethics might be to be transparent and open, and in a situation where the business actions is not being socially responsible and open, the employee could point this out to the board or person concerned. People have to draw a line between what is personal and business to reduce / eliminate such conflicts. But one with very poor personal ethics would not adhere to business ethics to their best ability. As the world’s attention to business ethics is increasing with today’s dilemmas, companies are realizing that they need to earn the respect of their customers in order to be successful. Companies are looking into the ways in which they could improve their business practice emphasizing the legal and ethical behaviour. Demand for higher standard is growing and individuals along with companies and professionals are being held accountable for the actions, which might hinder the growth in standard. In such situation, ethics of both personal & business level takes control to create a better corporate social responsibility.