Business ethics

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  • Business ethics
    • Considers the ethical relationships between businesses + consumers, businesses + employees 
    • Considers impact of globalisation on the environment 
    • Businesses have moral responsibilities 
    • Body shop and co-op are very ethical
    • However for many profits are still the most important thing
    • Pressure groups such as green peace set up to stop unethical behaviour 
    • Relationship between businesses and consumers
      • Consumers have been very important in bringing about change in business
      • Company issues: Nike and gap over child labour, shell and Brent spar (an oil drum they wanted to sink in the Atlantic ocean, green peace stopped them) 
      • Consumers can stop buying from businesses if they view them as unethical
    • Relationship between employers and employees
      • 1978- Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) was set up to negotiate and work for the rights of workers
      • Needs to be a balance of interests between the 2
    • Whistle blowing
      • If an employee believes their company is doing something illegal or immoral they can report it
      • Some people argue that this is immoral, yet its in the best interests of everyone as it could be for health and safety reasons
      • Often risk dismissal 
      • Things in place to protect them, ‘Freedom to care’ promotes ethical right to accountable behaviour from large organisations 
    • Problems of ethics for business
      • It puts up the cost of production significantly
      • Diversity within society as to what is right and what isn’t (E.G. Animal testing)
    • Relationships between business and the environment
      • Business impact on the environment by emitting pollution, produce waste and use resources
      • Strategies in place to try and encourage businesses to be more environmentally friendly 
      • However businesses are more concerned with the maximisation of profit, through the lowest costs
      • Yet business do try to operate within the law to protect their reputation within the media 
    • Globalisation
      • Growth of a business to global or international scale 
      • Recent increase in globalisation due to: Technological developments, Transport of goods is faster and cheaper, Deregulation, countries can own business in other countries, Money can now be moved between countries, due to removal of capital exchange controls, Free trade, particularly within the EU, Consumer taste has changed (foreign products), + Emerging markets in developing countries 
      • Allowing people to trade virtually anywhere 
      • HOWEVER: Justice towards poorer countries is not always fair  + Countries can often be exploited for their resources
    • Benefits of ethics for business
      • Gives off a better image to consumers + will recruit more highly qualified staff due to reputation 
    • Ethical approaches
      • Utilitarianism
        • General welfare = important, often seen as good business policy 
        • General good is more important than individuals
        • Best transactions are the one where the best result is achieved 
        • Cannot act on intuition 
        • A good approach, yet not always clear what to do
      • Virtue ethics
        • Focuses on the character + motivation of the agent + their ability to pursue Eudaimonia 
        • Businesses cannot be separated from society (larger community)
        • People learn their virtues through watching others
        • Traits that make for good business must make for a good society too  
      • Religious approach
        • Do not amass wealth for the sake of it
        • Protestants
          • Individualistic approach: Personal integrity, someone can be praised for work with charity
          • Concern with competitive individualism of capitalism + social inequalities it brought about 
        • Catholic
          • Criticises capitalism and communism
        • Christian
          • Monitor harm done in companies they are shareholders in
    • Frediman
      • ‘social responsibility of business is to increase profits’ & legally bound to put stakeholders above any other concerns + corporations can’t be MR as they’re not a person. Profit motive reflect free market system
    • Kant and Marx
      • Globalisation reducing use & exchange value of the person where giant corporations can run on global scale and avoid international law to treat employees w/ worth


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