The importance of ethics in business
Ethics concern an individual’s moral judgements about right and wrong. Decisions taken within an organisation may be made by individuals or groups, but whoever makes them will be influenced by the culture of the company. The decision to behave ethically is a moral one; employees must decide what they think is the right course of action. This may involve rejecting the route that would lead to the biggest short-term profit.
Ethical behaviour and corporate social responsibility can bring significant benefits to a business. For example, they may:
- attract customers to the firm’s products, thereby boosting sales and profits
- make employees want to stay with the business, reduce labour turnover and therefore increase productivity
- attract more employees wanting to work for the business, reduce recruitment costs and enable the company to get the most talented employees
- attract investors and keep the company’s share price high, thereby protecting the business from takeover.
Unethical behaviour or a lack of corporate social responsibility, by comparison, may damage a firm’s reputation and make it less appealing to stakeholders. Profits could fall as a result.
Along with good corporate governance, ethical behaviour is an integral part of everything that Cadbury Schweppes does. Treating stakeholders fairly is seen as an essential part of the company’s success, as described here: ‘A creative and well managed corporate and social responsibility programme is in the best interests of all our stakeholders – not just our consumers – but also our shareowners, employees, customers, suppliers and other business partners who work together with us.