Business ethics, or business morals as they are commonly called, is a way of regulating conduct in the commercial world. It states that one should act in a way that is both ethical and proportionate to the amount of time, effort, and resources that one has available. The principle one follows depends entirely on what line of business you are in: a company that manufactures widget machines would have a different ethical code than a company that sells widget paper. A company that accepts credit cards as payment for products bought would require a different principle than a company that does not accept credit cards.
Principle one states that business ethics should be based on the anticipated benefit to the company rather than on the cost to the company. There is a large difference between these two. Some argue that if a company can save money and still provide better services, then it is likely to violate the principle one because saving money would be considered an indirect benefit. However, the effect of saving money can be indirect in a number of ways. If a company can reduce expenses and increase revenues, for example, then this would be considered an indirect benefit.
Another principle of business ethics is to avoid situations that might become harmful or inconvenient. For example, if a customer is unhappy with a product that the company sells, then the company has a responsibility to make the product better so that the customer will be happy with it. This is considered a harm to the customer, rather than a direct cost to the company. This principle is often referred to as the law of retraction.
Principle two states that one should be honest in all dealings. For many, honesty is a strong principle, since some businesses take advantage of customers who want to be completely honest. There is also a concept of self-interest involved with honesty, which means that a company may choose to lie to protect its own interests. This is referred to as self-interest or self-preservation, which are the opposite of ethics.
The third principle states that a company should do what is in its best interest at any time. This is the principle that is most linked to capitalism, which is not based on ethical practices per se, but on profit maximization. Profit is the goal of business, and if a company increases profits, then the company will benefit from its actions. This does not mean that a business must hurt its customers to achieve higher profits; however, if a company acts in a manner that is not in its best interest, then it can be seen as self-interest or self-preservation.
The fourth principle states that a business should be focused on maximizing profits, while minimizing its impact on the environment. The fifth principle states that a business should look out for the needs of its customers, in addition to its own corporate interests. The seventh and last principle states that a business should undertake business with others that share its goals and objectives. These seven principles of business ethics are necessary for a business to maximize profits, while at the same time preventing itself from becoming a victim of greed and other negative behavior.