LESSON 13 BUSINESS ETHICS STRUCTURE 13.0
THE PRESENT STATE OF HUMAN SOCIETY
TOWARDS A BETTER W ORLD
ETHICS AND MORALITY
ASSIGNMENTS 13.6.1 13.6.2
CLASS ASSIGNMENTS HOME ASSIGNMENTS
POSSIBLE ANSWERS TO SELF-CHECK QUESTIONS
REFERENCES AND SUGGESTED FURTHER READING
13. BUSINESS ETHICS Social, moral and ethical values form the basis of all human endeavour in a society. The relative success or failure of societies depends on the kind of values subscribed to by its members. Being a responsible member of a society, it is necessary that all of us practice our respective professions and businesses, in line with some universal ethical and professional values. This unit attempts to explain the linkage between business/profession and desirable ethical values which sustain the social fabric. Sound ethical values also result in generating goodwill in business. This lesson is a part of the unit of three lessons on ‘Ethics and Business’ and will deal with the broad topic of ‘Business Ethics’. In the second lesson of this unit we shall examine some values which are integral to the success of any Business / Profession and in the slot allotted to lesson 15 we shall have a group discussion on Business Ethics.
13.0 Objectives After studying this lesson, you will: •
Acquire an understanding of the present state of human society and the need to contribute in bringing about a positive change in it.
Understand the concept of ‘ethics’ and ‘morality’ and the importance of sound Business ethics.
13.1 Introduction You are now in the final stage of the one year certificate programme on Textile Designing & Printing and may be completing it soon. After this some of you may take up jobs in this field or go for further education. Some may even take on freelance work, while others may decide to take a shot at entrepreneurship and start a business of their own. It would be worthwhile to pause and ask our selves, is this topic ‘Ethics & Business’ really relevant and important to us? If yes, then why? The answers to these and related issues will hopefully come out of this lesson.
13.2 The Present State of Human Society If we look around us, what do we see? Human society has achieved remarkable technological progress. However, problems, conflicts and miseries in the world have also increased manifold. All around the world we can see festering and chronic situations of conflict. Many countries in the world are experiencing insurgencies, group conflicts, social injustice and economic deprivation. Terrorism is raising its ugly head and is increasingly becoming a 2
strategy for achieving political objectives by various groups. There is widespread poverty and social discrimination in nearly all societies. And it is worth remembering that never in history was there more knowledge than available today.
13.3 Towards a Better World The nature and character of society is determined by the sum total of actions of all the individuals who live in the society. So if we want to change things for the better in this world, we will first have to change ourselves so that we can distinguish right from wrong. Einstein, who considered human values to be of utmost importance for peace and happiness of human society, gave this inspiring message,” The most important human endeavour is the striving for morality in our actions. Only morality in our actions can provide the inner balance and this is vital for our very existence. To bring this to clear consciousness and make it a living force is perhaps the foremost task of education.” Thus to proceed towards making this world a better place to live in, the individuals must improve themselves. We can do this through introspection and identifying our own weaknesses than by finding faults in others. When individual goals of its citizens harmonise with the overall goals of the society or country, then they will carve out a righteous path for themselves and the society or country will not be subject to the ills that beset the modern world. Such a symbiotic relationship exists in living organisms as pointed out by Dr. Deepak Chopra, “All living organisms display behaviour patterns that favour the whole over the interest of the individual part. Cells work not for themselves buy for the integrity of the tissue of which they are a part. Tissues likewise work in concert to maintain the integrity of organs and organs in turn maintain the integrity of the whole organism. Any part of a living organism is willing to die in order to protect the genetic wholeness of the larger entity.”
Self-check Questions 1.
Fill in the blanks: i) The nature and character of society is determined by the ___________of all the __________ who live in the society. So if we want to change things for the better in this world, we will first have to ________ so that we can distinguish ___________.
13.4 Ethics and Morality Ethics is derived from the Greek word ‘ethikos’ meaning character. It concerns conduct and behaviour. The word ‘moral’ is derived from the Latin word ‘moris’, meaning habits and customs. Dipankar Gupta has pointed out that “In pre-modern times it was not ethics that dominated our thinking but morality. Morality was about the self….it did not matter what others did or said….Ethics is not an individual attribute as it is a quality that marks social interactions.” He further adds,” Business Ethics demands that profits be made on a sustainable basis by observing norms that respect other people. Fairness, transparency and individual ambitions must all find a place in the practice of Business Ethics.” One must not conclude from this that morality is irrelevant for Business Ethics. According to Fritzche, moral standards are the yardstick of Business Ethics. They provide the basis for deciding whether the act is right or wrong. Moral norms prohibit certain types of behaviour such as lying, stealing and killing. However, Business Ethics is different from personal morality and is discussed in the next sub-section.
13.5 Business Ethics We may be in manufacturing, trading or service business. The size of the business may be small, medium or big. However, the business would have certain goals to be achieved according to the nature of the business. To build a successful, respectable business that will achieve the business goals year after year which will grow in size and profits, such policies need to be planned and implemented which will build trust with customers and attract more business opportunities. Also, the employees should be satisfied, shareholders paid good dividends and management has to meet the business standards in all respects to win respect. In other words, having good business policies and following business ethics are necessary to enable a business to create a favourable situation. Few matters in this context relate to the business firm and the society. The business should obey the law, select employees fairly i.e. without discrimination and reward them justly for their work. They should work on principles of openness and transparency. In business, the top management (sole Proprietor / Partner / Board of Directors) is responsible for framing the plans, which may bring about success of the business, and also the implementation of plans. Talented, hardworking, honest people are required for successful implementation of business plans. Running several successful businesses results in so many happy families, and hence there is a prosperous social environment.
Self-check Questions 2.
Fill in the blanks: i) Ethics is derived from the Greek word ____________ meaning ___________. It concerns ____________ and ______________. ii) The word ‘moral’ is derived from the Latin word ___________, meaning ________ and ____________. iii) Business Ethics demands that ______________ be made on a sustainable basis by observing ___________ that ___________ other people.
13.6 Assignments 13.6.1 Class assignments i)
Through a Group Discussion, analyse and enumerate what you consider are crucial ethical values which should be adopted in running a business.
The findings of your Group Discussion should then be summarised on a chart paper and displayed on the soft board in your class.
13.6.2 Home assignments i)
What does one mean by ‘ethics’ and morality?
Frame a set of guidelines that a good Business organization should follow.
13.7 Summing Up In this lesson after describing the present state of human society and how to move towards a better world, the terms ethics and morality are defined and briefly described. Finally, various aspects of Business ethics are considered.
13.8 Possible Answers to Self-check Questions 1. Fill in the blanks: i) The nature and character of society is determined by the sum total of actions of all the individuals who live in the society. So if we want to change things for the better in this world, we will first have to change ourselves so that we can distinguish right from wrong. 2. Fill in the blanks: 5
i) Ethics is derived from the Greek word ‘ethikos’ meaning character. It concerns conduct and behaviour. ii) The word ‘moral’ is derived from the Latin word ‘moris’, meaning habits and customs. iii) Business Ethics demands that profits be made on a sustainable basis by observing norms that respect other people.
13.9 Terminal Questions 1. ‘Living organisms are good example of what a symbiotic relationship between the individual and the society should be.’ Explain. 2. What is the foremost task of education according to Einstein?
13.10 References and Suggested Further Reading 1.
Chopra, D. 1989, Creating Health: Beyond prevention, towards perfection. Grafton Books, Collins.
Dhar, P.L. and Gaur, R.R. 1992. Commonwealth Publishers, New Delhi.
Fritzsche, D.J., 1995, Business Ethics, McGraw-Hill, New York.
Gupta, D. 2006. Ethics Incorporated: Top priority and bottom line. Response Books, New Delhi.
Piet, J. H. and Ayodhya Prasad (Eds.). 2000. An Introduction to Applied Ethics. Cosmo Publications, New Delhi.
Fair and Transparent conduct and behaviour
Causing continuing annoyance, stagnate
Lasting a long time
Rising up in revolt
State of being dispossessed, loss
Conforming to moral or right behaviour
To cause to agree and produce a pleasing effect
A living animal or vegetable, a whole with interdependent parts
Relating to unit of heredity
Which can be supported for a long period
Easily seen through