Published September 9, 2008

Ethics in Business? Business Practices & Modern Business Ethics

Looking around at the latest news headlines, you might be tempted to think that ethics in business have been pushed to the curb as far as modern business practices go.

From Enron to Martha Stewart and now even huge businesses such as Fannie Mae, it seems as though the headlines are full of businesses which have failed in the area of ethics. Some people may be tempted to think that like individuals seem to, companies can get away by having no moral code and still count on millions of dollars in profits every year.

However, it is our contention, and it is still a belief among most successful small businesses, that modern business ethical practices in all areas are as important, if not more so, than ever before.

Media Attention and Correct Business Practices

There is more media, and more attentive media, in the world today than there ever has been before.

People are able to get their news faster, and that means any whistle blower has a legitimate shot at bringing down a corporation on the Internet or in the press, literally overnight.

Companies need to believe that unethical practices will be discovered and lead to their downfall.

Of course, an ironic side story on ethics in business here is the practices of the media itself. Perhaps there was once a golden age of the press - but those days have long gone, and people are more inclined to distrust the written word than ever before, thanks to short stores relying on out of context quotes and sensationalist editorializing.

The lack of ethics in the media has produced a backlash of its own as people are no longer sure where to turn for good information!

The Competitive Market for Excellent Employees

While many small businesses follow sound and ethical procedures as far as their client base is concerned, they may fail when it comes to the needs and the rights of their employees.

The results can range from medium-type consequences, such as an eventual employee shortage to major issues, such as a story about slave labor being used to produce goods (and yes, that includes production in other countries for a resale of huge profits).

The Internet

One area of modern business ethics that is of utmost importance is the Internet. Thanks to boom in technology and Internet advancement, more people are making money online today than was ever thought possible.

Internet businesses need to realize that as far as public trust, they are immediately operating with a deficit. You just can't give in to temptation as far as online businesses go, or you will quickly see your business go south.

This means quick delivery when promised, goods shipped in a quality manner, and open lines of communication.

You will notice that we refrained from a mention of cosmic karma in this article, because unethical companies are not always caught. Still, there is a belief in modern business ethics that a company built on a rotten foundation will eventually fall; that includes those that "make their own rules."

With ethics in all areas of a business, small companies stand a much better chance in today's world.