Business Ethics and Social Responsibility

Sections of this topic

    Business Ethics and Social Responsibility

    Sections of This Topic Include

    About Ethics, Principles and Moral

    What is Business Ethics?
    Managing Ethics in the Workplace
    – – – Managing Ethics Programs in the Workplace
    – – – Developing Codes of Ethics
    – – – Developing Codes of Conduct
    – – – Resolving Ethical Dilemmas and Making
    Ethical Decisions

    – – – Ethics Training
    Assessing Culture and Cultivating Ethical

    Some Contemporary (Arguably) Ethical Issues
    General Resources for Managing Ethics
    in the Workplace

    Social Responsibility
    Boards and Corporate Social Responsibility
    General Resources for Social Responsibility

    Also consider
    Related Library Topics

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Ethics and Social Responsibility

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    Business Ethics Blog

    About Ethics, Principles and Moral Values

    See a video
    about managing ethical and legal risks and boundaries, and what to do if you encounter
    ethical or legal issues. (The video is in the context of consulting, but applies to leading, as well.) From the Consultants
    Development Institute

    Simply put, ethics involves learning what is right or wrong, and then doing
    the right thing — but “the right thing” is not nearly as straightforward
    as conveyed in a great deal of business ethics literature. Most ethical dilemmas
    in the workplace are not simply a matter of “Should Bob steal from Jack?”
    or “Should Jack lie to his boss?”

    (Many ethicists assert there’s always a right thing to do based on moral principle,
    and others believe the right thing to do depends on the situation — ultimately
    it’s up to the individual.) Many philosophers consider ethics to be the “science
    of conduct.” Twin Cities consultants Doug Wallace and John Pekel (of the
    Twin Cities-based Fulcrum Group; 651-714-9033; e-mail at
    explain that ethics includes the fundamental ground rules by which we live our
    lives. Philosophers have been discussing ethics for at least 2500 years, since
    the time of Socrates and Plato. Many ethicists consider emerging ethical beliefs
    to be “state of the art” legal matters, i.e., what becomes an ethical
    guideline today is often translated to a law, regulation or rule tomorrow. Values
    which guide how we ought to behave are considered moral values, e.g., values
    such as respect, honesty, fairness, responsibility, etc. Statements around how
    these values are applied are sometimes called moral or ethical principles. (Extracted
    from Complete (Practical)
    Guide to Managing Ethics in the Workplace

    at Work … and at Play

    Why Integrity Is Never Easy
    are Values, Morals, and Ethics?

    What is Business Ethics?

    The concept has come to mean various things to various people, but generally
    it’s coming to know what it right or wrong in the workplace and doing what’s
    right — this is in regard to effects of products/services and in relationships
    with stakeholders. Wallace and Pekel explain that attention to business ethics
    is critical during times of fundamental change — times much like those faced
    now by businesses, both nonprofit or for-profit. In times of fundamental change,
    values that were previously taken for granted are now strongly questioned. Many
    of these values are no longer followed. Consequently, there is no clear moral
    compass to guide leaders through complex dilemmas about what is right or wrong.
    Attention to ethics in the workplace sensitizes leaders and staff to how they
    should act. Perhaps most important, attention to ethics in the workplaces helps
    ensure that when leaders and managers are struggling in times of crises and
    confusion, they retain a strong moral compass. However, attention to business
    ethics provides numerous other benefits, as well (these benefits are listed
    later in this document).

    Note that many people react that business ethics, with its continuing attention
    to “doing the right thing,” only asserts the obvious (“be good,”
    “don’t lie,” etc.), and so these people don’t take business ethics
    seriously. For many of us, these principles of the obvious can go right out
    the door during times of stress. Consequently, business ethics can be strong
    preventative medicine. Anyway, there are many other benefits of managing ethics
    in the workplace. These benefits are explained later in this document. (Extracted
    from Complete (Practical)
    Guide to Managing Ethics in the Workplace

    Ethics (Wikipedia)

    is Business Ethics?

    Values and Morals, Guidelines for Living
    at a Cross Roads

    is More Than Compliance

    Best Ways to Discuss Ethics

    Teach Business Ethics

    Transparency is a key to performance
    Choices Make all the Difference

    Managing Ethics in the Workplace

    Managing Ethics Programs in the Workplace

    Organizations can manage ethics in their workplaces by establishing an ethics
    management program. Brian Schrag, Executive Secretary of the Association for
    Practical and Professional Ethics, clarifies. “Typically, ethics programs
    convey corporate values, often using codes and policies to guide decisions and
    behavior, and can include extensive training and evaluating, depending on the
    organization. They provide guidance in ethical dilemmas.” Rarely are two
    programs alike.

    “All organizations have ethics programs, but most do not know that they
    do,” wrote business ethics professor Stephen Brenner in the Journal of
    Business Ethics (1992, V11, pp. 391-399). “A corporate ethics program is
    made up of values, policies and activities which impact the propriety of organization

    Bob Dunn, President and CEO of San Francisco-based Business for Social Responsibility,
    adds: “Balancing competing values and reconciling them is a basic purpose
    of an ethics management program. Business people need more practical tools and
    information to understand their values and how to manage them.” (Extracted
    from Complete (Practical)
    Guide to Managing Ethics in the Workplace

    Management Programs: An Overview
    Guide to Business Ethics: How to Navigate Ethical Issues in Small Business Business

    It Time for a Unified Approach to Business Ethics?

    Benefits of Managing Ethics in the Workplace

    Guidelines for Managing Ethics in the Workplace

    Key Roles and Responsibilities in Ethics Management

    Character and Leadership Development

    Developing Codes of Ethics

    According to Wallace, “A credo generally describes the highest values
    to which the company aspires to operate. It contains the `thou shalts.’ A code
    of ethics specifies the ethical rules of operation. It’s the `thou shalt nots.”
    In the latter 1980s, The Conference Board, a leading business membership organization,
    found that 76% of corporations surveyed had codes of ethics.

    Some business ethicists disagree that codes have any value. Usually they explain
    that too much focus is put on the codes themselves, and that codes themselves
    are not influential in managing ethics in the workplace. Many ethicists note
    that it’s the developing and continuing dialogue around the code’s values that
    is most important. (Extracted from Complete
    (Practical) Guide to Managing Ethics in the Workplace

    to Write a Code of Ethics for Your Business
    Tips for Writing an Amazing Code of Ethics
    to Write a Code of Ethics for Business

    Developing Codes of Conduct

    If your organization is quite large, e.g., includes several large programs
    or departments, you may want to develop an overall corporate code of ethics
    and then a separate code to guide each of your programs or departments. Codes
    should not be developed out of the Human Resource or Legal departments alone,
    as is too often done. Codes are insufficient if intended only to ensure that
    policies are legal. All staff must see the ethics program being driven by top

    Note that codes of ethics and codes of conduct may be the same in some organizations,
    depending on the organization’s culture and operations and on the ultimate level
    of specificity in the code(s). (Extracted from Complete
    (Practical) Guide to Managing Ethics in the Workplace

    Effective Methods of Employee Code of Conduct

    Codes of Conduct

    Establishing a Code of Business Ethics
    Codes of Conduct in Light of Sarbanes-Oxley
    7 Rules for Avoiding Conflicts of Interest in
    a Family Business

    Resolving Ethical Dilemmas and Making Ethical Decisions

    Perhaps too often, business ethics is portrayed as a matter of resolving conflicts
    in which one option appears to be the clear choice. For example, case studies
    are often presented in which an employee is faced with whether or not to lie,
    steal, cheat, abuse another, break terms of a contract, etc. However, ethical
    dilemmas faced by managers are often more real-to-life and highly complex with
    no clear guidelines, whether in law or often in religion.

    As noted earlier in this document, Doug Wallace, Twin Cities-based consultant,
    explains that one knows when they have a significant ethical conflict when there
    is presence of a) significant value conflicts among differing interests, b)
    real alternatives that are equality justifiable, and c) significant consequences
    on “stakeholders” in the situation. An ethical dilemma exists when
    one is faced with having to make a choice among these alternatives.

    an Ethical Dilemma?

    Some Contemporary (Arguably) Ethical Issues
    General Resources Regarding Managing
    Ethics in the Workplace

    Social Responsibility (social responsibility
    is but one aspect of overall business ethics)

    General Resources Regarding Social Responsibility
    Lessons in Ethics from Richard Branson

    Assessing and Cultivating Ethical

    Culture is comprised of the values, norms, folkways and behaviors
    of an organization. Ethics is about moral values, or values regarding
    right and wrong. Therefore, cultural assessments can be extremely
    valuable when assessing the moral values in an organization.

    Corporate Culture – Part 1

    Corporate Culture – Part 2

    How to Create An Ethical Work Environment
    How a Company Develops & Maintains an Ethical Environment
    Culture Saves Lives
    Combating the Hero Worship Culture at Penn State: the NCAA Got It Exactly Right

    Also consider


    Ethics Training

    The ethics program is essentially useless unless all staff members are trained
    about what it is, how it works and their roles in it. The nature of the system
    may invite suspicion if not handled openly and honestly. In addition, no matter
    how fair and up-to-date is a set of policies, the legal system will often interpret
    employee behavior (rather than written policies) as de facto policy. Therefore,
    all staff must be aware of and act in full accordance with policies and procedures
    (this is true, whether policies and procedures are for ethics programs or personnel
    management). This full accordance requires training about policies and procedures.

    Do the Right Thing — Ethics Training Programs
    Help Employees Deal With Ethical Dilemmas

    Ethics Training and Development in the Military
    Does Your Ethics and Compliance Training
    Meet the Standard?

    Teaching Right and Wrong
    Ethics Training: New Needs, New Times

    Some Contemporary (Arguably) Ethical Issues


    Ethics: Questions to get to Answers

    Mr. Blankfein, How are you going to put ethics first?

    Fragility of Transparency

    Bloom is off the Tylenol Rose

    Leaders have Trouble Restoring Trust

    Power of the Lowly Expense Report

    it’s so Hard to get Safety Right

    Practices that Could Have Prevented the Shirley Sherrod Debacle

    Insignificance of Ethics in Leadership
    of Whistleblowing

    Accused of Ignoring Red Flags

    Dig Deeper!

    not to change a safety culture

    Saying No to $12 million ethical, or unethical?

    Cost of Values

    Charlie Sheen’s Business Ethics
    Are companies responsible for how countries use their products?
    Is “Free” Really Free?
    Is News Corp Past the Tipping Point?
    Cost of a Culture of Fear? $500 million for starters

    General Resources Regarding Managing Ethics in the Workplace

    Ethical Leadership Group’s articles


    Renewal Institute

    Legal Ethics
    – Focusing on the ethical issues associated with the use of technology
    by legal professionals

    Business Ethics References in 200 Years of Books
    Ethics 2012 – The Forecast is Cloudy
    Get to the Start of the Slippery Slope

    Social Responsibility

    Social responsibility and business ethics are often regarding
    as the same concepts. However, the social responsibility movement
    is but one aspect of the overall discipline of business ethics.
    The social responsibility movement arose particularly during the
    1960s with increased public consciousness about the role of business
    in helping to cultivate and maintain highly ethical practices
    in society and particularly in the natural environment.

    Business for Social
    Responsibility (click on “Intro to Corporate Social Responsibility”)

    Business of Social Responsibility
    with Integrity” – Business Impact Task Force Report Launched

    Versus Social Responsibility

    Social Responsibility — a newsletter

    Corporate Social Responsibility: An Insider’s

    to “The Case Against Social Responsibility”

    Mother Theresa- An Inspiration For Social Responsibility
    Corporate Social Responsibility: How Can Learning

    Four CSR Trends to Watch in 2011
    in Corporate Social Responsibility to Enhance Customer Value

    Strategy and Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility

    Boards and Corporate Social Responsibility

    The Business Case for Corporate Social Responsibility
    The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights
    Investing in Corporate Social Responsibility to Enhance Customer Value
    Organizing for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability
    Sustainability in the Boardroom
    Deconstructing Sustainability
    6 Criteria for Selecting a CSR Consultant

    General Resources Regarding Social Responsibility

    There are many online resources in regard to social responsibility.
    The following will help to get your started.

    Business for Social

    for Social Responsibility

    Behaviorists for
    Social Responsibility

    For the Category of Ethics:

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