Staying clean in the quandary of unethical business practices can be achieved with the implementation of sound business ethics and practices. What exactly is businesses responsibility and where does their obligation for business ethics end? This is a question that is asked in many boardrooms.
Business has a responsibility to maximize profits to business partners, shareholders, and for that matter the government who will inevitably receive more taxes. But at what cost? Business also has a responsibility to customers and the general public. There is an overall opinion that business as a contract with society, which includes obligations, duties that must be filled, and the implementation of business ethics.
However, some countries such as Asia, are different and demand a different type of behavior. This includes corruption of the virtuous, daunting amounts of size, poorly educated employees, poorly paid employees, weak legal structures, absence of free press, and temptation.
Corruption and the lack of business ethics impacts all societies. It distorts the decision making process and leads to irrational decisions. It leads to disproportionate resource allocation and investors are frightened away. Both the economy and business are negatively impacted. Individuals are most hurt by corruption. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.
There can be no intellectual argument to support corruption and downplay the importance of business ethics. Even in the most corrupt of societies, those acting in a corrupt manner do not admit to their corrupt activities. Every society has rules in place to handle corruption, although enforcement can be weak or even non-existent.
One of the most openly debated business ethics is the giving of gifts. In countries with poor business ethics it is justified as being necessary for business success, or as part of the culture. Many argue it has been done this way for a long time, and there is no reason to change. You know the old adage “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.” The trouble is it is a well documented fact that this type of behavior leads to corruption. It may start as an innocent action, but over time the gifts (bribes) become bigger and the corruption becomes very real.
Poor business ethics and corruption will lead to the reduction of working capital and actually negatively affect the company’s bottom line. It tends to have a snowball effect and it will hurt the company’s reputation leading to trade barriers and consumer boycotting of products.
Thomas NG is a Hong Kong academic. Thomas NG has is Masters in Law from the Queensland University of Technology, a Master in Business Administration from the University of Derby, and his Doctor of Juridical Science at La Trobe University. He is currently enrolled at Harvard University where he is completing his Masters of Liberal Arts in Sustainability and Environmental Management.
Thomas NG has done considerable research on multinational companies and human rights. He…