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Business Ethics

Entry 139, on 2005-03-07 at 15:55:19 (Rating 3, News)

I listened to an interview today about the unethical behavior of highly placed business people, and how the training given to the upper echelons of business graduates, especially MBAs, doesn't provide any worthwhile guidance in this area.

In most cases I don't think successful business people have particularly good ethical standards. In fact the title of this entry, business ethics, could easily be considered an oxymoron! Why is this?

The major purpose of business is to maximise profits. Businesses will do anything to achieve greater profit, including laying off staff, out-sourcing work to cheaper countries, using workers in other countries whose conditions of work are close to slavery, and sabotaging other companies' superior products. Don't believe me? Do a little bit of research. Its standard practice at most big corporations today.

You might say, that business needs to do these things to survive, that they create wealth for the benefit of all, and that they provide employment. These things are partially true. But even if they were totally true, it would be as a side effect of the activities of the business, not as a direct result of them. I'm sure that if a business could make big profits without employing anyone and not contributing to the welfare of the state at all, most would unhesitatingly do so.

So the fact is that business people generally don't have great ethics, because in order to be successful they have to follow the opposite behavior we would normally expect from someone with high ethical standards. They have to be self centered, greedy, look at the short term gain instead of the big picture, and destroy any opposition even if its superior to them.

When you look at it that way its no wonder the world is such a mess from the point of view of social inequality, lack of environmental care, and poor democratic process. I assign all of these problems to the rise of big corporations and the general lack of business ethics by their leaders.

Its time all companies were required to work to maximise their achievement in the areas of social and environmental gain, as well as financial gain to their shareholders and management. Maybe this could be done through a series of penalties or rewards because, in the end, money is the only thing these people seem to understand.

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