A guide to good business ethics


What Are Business Ethics?

When talking about business ethics, you’ve likely heard descriptions like honor or integrity. Or, perhaps you’ve seen terms such as social responsibility or corporate responsibility. But what do these descriptions really mean? 

Good business isn’t just about boosting the bottom line. Increasing profits through unethical means isn’t an effective strategy for your long-term career success or the company’s long-term viability. 

  • Good business ethics create a positive work environment. Ethics create a positive work environment based on honesty, accountability, fairness, and goodwill. Employees are more likely to feel invested in and proud of working for an organization with aligned values and a strong moral backbone. A positive work environment is also a competitive work environment, as it leads to higher retention and lower turnover rates. 
  • Good business ethics build customer loyalty. Ethics are essential to building a positive brand reputation that attracts a loyal customer base. Customers who suspect they’re being overcharged, lied to, or otherwise taken advantage of will likely take their business elsewhere. By contrast, customers who believe in and connect with your brand’s values will want to support you. They’re more likely to become brand advocates who recommend your company and its products to family and friends.
  • Good business ethics help you and your company avoid legal problems. Finally, it may be tempting to cut corners or misrepresent information in pursuit of profits. For example, you may save time in the short term by overlooking safety regulations, or you might make a quick deal by distorting the truth to a customer. But unethical and shady business practices can lead to lawsuits or criminal charges against you or your company. Not only can you or your company face serious legal repercussions, but legal troubles can also create negative publicity that damages the organization’s brand reputation for years. 

In summary, good ethics are good business. Business ethics increase profits by retaining talent, creating a positive brand reputation, building a loyal customer base, and avoiding costly legal troubles. They also create a more enjoyable work environment for everyone—including you.

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