Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ethical Norms for Business

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Ethical Norms for Business Decisions

Past generations paid attention to their experiences, formulated their emerging understanding of how things might be better for themselves and often transmitted that understanding in the form of maxims, proverbs, folk tales, laws and codes of conduct. Ethical norms tend to be refined formulations of such inherited understanding.

Besides being acquired through socialization, methods and ethical norms are also similar in their general function as guides to action. Methods are the procedures that should be followed if the results of inquiry and testing are to be conventionally acceptable; ethical norms formulate guidelines for deciding whether various actions are morally justifiable or unjustifiable.

The Norm of Individual Rights and Duties

“Moral rights and duties flow from one’s human dignity and ultimately from the creator, and are supported by law, such as our constitutional rights of freedom of conscience or freedom of speech.” Although many legal rights such as, the U.S. Bill of Rights and the United Declaration of Human Rights are documents that stem from moral rights, not all moral rights are enacted legally. The norm of individual rights and duties generate back to John Locke and Immanuel Kant. These philosophers gave lead to the understanding of human rights and the importance of having such norms.

We cannot isolate duty separately while asking for our rights. These norms work as lock and key and should go together, not separately. For example, I have the right to rent any property has long as I maintain the property and not destroy it, I have the right to monetary compensation for my work as long as I do my work.

Individual rights reach beyond the civil and political liberties, which we now hold sacred.

They not only protect our freedoms; they also encompass our aspiration to achieve social and economic justice and to choose our own forms of cultural expression.

The Norm of Justice

Justice is a strict performance of moral obligations that, in many cases-if not all can be punishable by law if not followed. John Rawls’ basic idea is that justice should involve developing social institutions that do not lead to unfair advantages for some at the expense of others.

Rawls emphasizes that only a “veil of ignorance” to one’s own economic success, talent and opportunity could insure a determination that is fair to all. For example, any political or economic system, which leads to racial, social, sexual, religious or economic discrimination is to be rejected or deemed wrong. I agree with the idea of “veil of ignorance” and strongly believe that it is because of our lack of true understanding to the meaning of justice is why there are so many poor people around the world. I always believe that this world was created equal and some where along the lines people didn’t understand or follow the true meaning of justice.

The Norm of Utilitarianism

This norm decides what is good or bad by estimating “the greatest good for the greatest number of people.” Of all norms, Utilitarianism is the most commonly used in business decisions because the morality is about producing good consequences not just having good intentions. “Such a theory is in opposition to egoism the view that a person should pursue his own self-interest, even at the expense of others, and to any ethical theory that regards some acts or types of acts as right or wrong independently of their consequences.”

The Norm of Caring

“In making ethical judgments it is essential to consider the interests of others.” Gilligan stresses that caring includes assuming responsibility for another, by acting responsively to nurture, or lessen anothers needs. She also mentions the dynamic of the interaction as individuals motivated to act responsibly toward another maintain their own needs for connections and relationships.

“Gilligan offered that a morality of care can serve in the place of the morality of justice and rights espoused by Kohlberg. In her view, the morality of caring and responsibility is premised in nonviolence, while the morality of justice and rights is based on equality. Another way to look at these differences is to view these two moralities as providing two distinct injunctions - the injunction not to treat others unfairly (justice) and the injunction not to turn away from someone in need (care). She presents these moralities as distinct, although potentially connected.”

Ethical Norms and The Workplace

We spend the better part of the day at work, interacting with others thus allowing us to learn from and set examples for others. It is important that we as individuals maintain a high level of morality in our work ethics to avoid developing a hostile environment. By practicing our morals, this does not only allow us to become trustworthy but offers opportunities.

Formally defined, ethical behavior is that which is morally accepted as good and right as opposed to bad or wrong in a particular setting. Is it ethical, for example, to pay a bribe to obtain a business contract in a foreign country? Is it ethical to allow your company to withhold information that might discourage a job candidate from joining your organization? Is it ethical to ask someone to take a job you know will not be good for their career progress? Is it ethical to do personal business on company time? The answer is no. When faced with outside pressures, many of us, tend to think these acts are justifiable and often forget of the long-term consequences.

Ethical Norms and Constructive Action

By always maintaining a high level of morality it has allowed me to network efficiently. People interact with me better than with others and this allows them to “care” for my situation and help me when I’m in need. In this purpose’s Constructive Action my goal was to network to find a job and many times I blamed my jobless situation with not being as outgoing as others. But I began to understand that the most important element to building contacts, besides effective communication, was allowing people to trust me and see that I am a good and fair person. Anytime I find myself in a situation that I quiet don’t understand I like to put myself in others shoes to better understand. In this case, I asked myself, what are the kinds of people I tend to help? And I realize that people with good morals and values are the once that I am most attracted to.

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