The Concept of Applied Ethics and Business

Ethics define how people should behave in certain situations. There is no right or wrong when it comes to ethics because it is an individual's judgment. In simple terms, the majority considers ethics to be good. "Applied ethics" in ethics means the practical aspect of ethics. What would be the practical solution in the given scenario, not the ideal ethical answer that an individual might give without taking the situations and emotions into consideration?

In this article, we will be diving deep into the concept of applied business ethics, what are the benefits of applied business ethics for firms, and how certain companies are practicing it.

Applied Business Ethics

Applied Business Ethics asks companies to find practical and ethical solutions that will help the company promote human welfare along with its own. It is a method that ensures that the company is growing with the community. Applied business ethics can also be divided into three categories −

  • Applied ethical dilemmas at the individual level This deals with the ethical dilemmas that the employees of the organization or its leadership team might face while working for the organization and ensuring its success. There are going to be situations that demand the individual go a little out of their way to ensure that their work has been done, or else they would have to restart the process. In these scenarios, individuals should weigh the pros and cons of the same and try to make an ethical business decision. For example, a salesperson might face ethical dilemmas like

    • Should I inform the consumers about the negatives of the product?

    • Should I correct the consumer while he is making wrong assumptions?

    • Am I hiding certain crucial information that will lead to a loss for the consumer or a sour post-consumption experience? And others.

  • Applied business ethics at the business or organizational level − This refers to the ethics that a company wants to imbibe among its working culture and the people that are working with it. What the company thinks is right or wrong as a whole Employees can always refer to these ethics or values and use them as a guide in times of turmoil. The organizational level of applied business ethics helps the company and its members understand or address questions like

    • Is this how we should be achieving our goals?

    • Is this how we should be responding to our clients and their needs?

    • Is this how we should be treating your employees?

  • Applied business ethics at the community level − This helps us understand how businesses and their workings can influence the society that we live in. Businesses influence the laws, rules, regulations, environmental characteristics, and others of a community. Businesses can ask themselves questions to ensure that they are ethical in the community setting as well, and some of them are −

    • Am I giving back to society what I am taking from it?

    • Am I helping society in its drive toward a sustainable future? and others.

Instances to better explain the concept of applied business ethics

  • Samsung, Apple, and H&M These are prominent brands in the industry of technology as well as clothing. They are known to provide consumers with excellent-quality products at somewhat reasonable rates. All of the companies mentioned above now have manufacturing plants in developing countries. In this sense, they are producing high-quality products under their brand names but are using the land, people, and infrastructure of developing countries. Now companies are doing this because of the low cost of living in developing

    countries. For example, if these companies produced the goods in their home countries, they would have to hire laborers. These laborers will cost the company approximately $12 per hour, but the same company can hire an employee in India, China, Bangladesh, or elsewhere for the same work at $1.25. So now the question is whether the company is fair. The company knows the actual wage rate in their country but provides labor to developing countries at a much lower rate, thereby kind of exploiting them. Now, adding another point to the discussion, what if the average wage rate in a particular developing country is $1 for the same manual labor done? Is the company now doing right by providing the laborers with $1.25? And if yes, then is it just because it is something that is above the standard of the country?

  • Bluffing on the negotiation table − There are scenarios in which companies bluff with clients or other clients to crack a deal. Though bluffing may appear unethical at first, it is perfectly acceptable in the poker game, and will be bluffing not be acceptable when the company is doing it to ensure that they are paid according to market value and not exploited?

Benefits of Ethics in Business

Being ethically right may cost the company money, opportunities, and clients. It is difficult to succeed in a corrupt world, but an ethically strong company will have the following pillar benefits −

  • It affects the bottom line − An ethically strong company would not have to bear the cost of the legal fees and doubts from the consumer’s end. In a survey, it was found that half of the consumers in the United States market will not purchase goods from companies that they perceive as unethical, and three out of every 10 consumers will express support for companies on social media that are ethical.

  • Drives employee behavior − Employees will be more ethical in their work if they see the organization doing the same. The way that the organization performs drives the behavior of employees.

  • Designs the organization’s working − With automation and artificial intelligence coming into place, it has become easier for businesses to detect unethical behavior. With the world moving toward hybrid, it has also become essential for companies to ensure that they have an ethical working space and ethical employees to minimize the chance and effects of losses because of ethical issues.

Applied Business Ethics helps companies reach the middle ground between the ideal scenario that we do not have and the corrupted ground that we breed in. It provides the company with solutions so that they are not defeated by competitors and can continue to be a prosperous and happy place to work. Companies have to start understanding and investing in business ethics to enjoy the delicious fruits of success in the long run.

Updated on: 10-Mar-2023


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