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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

DO WE REALLY NEED BUSINESS ETHICS?

Blog in Spanish
I believe that good ethics make good business sense. Nowadays, customers pay more attention than ever to the ethical behavior of companies. Therefore, companies must have a code of ethics to define and maintain standards of acceptable behavior. In order for a company to achieve this, I would recommend following these three basic duties. First, any company should treat its employees well. For example, a company should be sensible to the needs of its employees by paying them fare wages and providing health insurance to the worker and his/her family. A company should also keep its promises. Second, companies and employees working for the company should be honest in all dealings. For example, companies should not take advantage of customers by overcharging for products; especially those products that are most necessary. When I was younger, I worked in a big bookstore as a clerk. One day a customer came to us to buy one of the textbooks she needed for school. When I told her the price, she said she could not afford it. But she really needed the book. I was aware she could get the same book at a lower price from one of our competitors. All of a sudden, I was faced with an ethical dilemma. What should I do? Should I tell her about the competitor or let her go without getting what she needed? I actually decide to tell her about the competitor’s price and she was indeed very thankful. Third, I believe all companies (and governments) have the duty to be socially responsible. The Kyoto global warming pact went into force recently. Many nations of the world have signed an agreement to systematically reduce pollution levels released to the atmosphere. This is a big step to protect our planet. Nevertheless, the pact is doomed to fail since countries like the United States (the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide) and China did not sign it. These two countries have refused to ratify the agreement, saying it would harm their economy. Are we forgetting that our planet is more important than any corporate profit? Are we not smart enough to think that if we destroy our planet money will be useless? Ethics and common sense are not always interrelated. Thus, it is our responsibility to do our part to implement business ethics in a society that has forgotten its more important core values; honesty, and a clear responsibility to future generations.

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