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A general description of ethics as it pertains to the business world could be that it parallels any written laws that exist inside or outside of the business place. As federal, state and local governments have formed laws, so have most every corporations created their own. In many cases business ethics do conform to written law and is in agreement with what is considered either legal or illegal. Of course there are exceptions to this description. An example of an ethical decision that would be regarded as being illegal is a physician-assisted suicide. In contrast, an example of a legal decision being deemed as unethical is a Catholic priest relaying information that was obtained in a confession to law enforcement. A more concise description of business ethics is on a personal level. Every employee of a business or corporation should comply with ethical ideas such as honesty, fairness, consideration, judgement, and competence. Most of today’s corporations have a written code of ethics and instruct their employees of these rules and regulations.

An ethical decision that I was recently involved with was related to time reporting. My company has a strict rule that all hours worked must be reported accurately. A workweek

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for my company begins on Friday and ends on Thursday, thus the time collector is looking for each employee’s completed timesheet by close of business every Thursday. Normally I do not have any problems with turning in my time by 5:00pm on Thursdays. However, one Thursday I was working on a critical project that was not going to be completed by close of business. I contacted timekeeping, explaining my situation and was told to estimate the hours I would be working and submit the estimated hours on that week’s timesheet. The timekeeper, apparently in a hurry to have all employees’ hours relayed to the payroll department, had placed me in an ethical situation. I called my manager and explained the position that I was in, and was instructed not to forward my timesheet until I had completed my project.

Had I reported inaccurate work hours in this situation, as instructed by the time reporter, I would have had to deal with my conscience for making an unethical decision. I believe that a person’s morals have much to do with the way that they deal with ethics in business. For example, I work as a computer network engineer and have access to almost every employee’s data within my company and within other companies that I do contract work for. My morals would not allow me to look over anyone else’s information, which would in a sense be an invasion of privacy. With the business world becoming more dependent upon electronic data; e.g. email, documents, and databases, ethics will become a greater issue for the Information Technology business. I do not have any experience in making ethic policies within a corporation, however I do feel that the code of ethics that a company’s management implements can strongly affect the success or failure of the business. I am a firm believer of the notion that a company’s success starts from the top and works its way down.

If the CEO of a company has strong ethics and morals, they are passed down through the organization and invoke employees to be more motivated. On the other hand, an organization that is lead by a person with poor ethics and conduct may affect the employees and ultimately result in poor morale and productivity. One of my duties as a computer network engineer is the purchasing and replacing of computer components, such as motherboards, hard drives and various networking components. Most of my dealings are through a contracted vendor, but there are times when I need a piece of hardware quickly and have to find another source. This is where I have seen poor ethics as a downfall for some companies. Being treated kindly and with respect by a customer service representative is somewhat hard to find these days. There have been numerous cases where I was so turned off by the lack of professionalism when talking to a customer service person that I vowed never to call or deal with that company again. When I say lack of professionalism, I do not mean that the person is not knowledgeable, I am referring to discourteous, unpleasant behavior.

I have also experienced great customer service over the telephone that lead me to place an order and feel quite confident about the purchase, only to find that the shipped product was previously opened and used. There was little doubt in my mind that the company knowingly sent me a used piece of hardware, as I had heard from other colleagues of mine experiencing similar problems with the same business. I would have to conclude that poor ethics within a customer-oriented company could lead to lost revenue or even complete failure of the business. My decision to not have future dealings with a company that provided poor service or product surely must be a common resolution that other customers have made. Lastly, I would like to look at how improper business ethics could have an affect on a larger group of people. If a high profile corporation gets caught up in an unethical situation, the details of their predicament will influence more of the public through media outlets.

Whether the media’s report of the corporation involved in an unethical case is biased or not, it will most likely result in public dissatisfaction. The company would be placed in a position where they will have to either regain their public’s trust, or suffer negative consequences. Again, the media will be the best source for the corporation to secure some sort of reconciliation with the mass public. If a corporation would faithfully operate with sensible moral behaviors and implemented stronger enforcement of any existing code of ethics, a public dilemma may never occur. In closing, I would have to say that ethics does play a very important role within a corporation. I have given my own personal examples as well as some general illustrations of different ways that poor ethics can lead to major problems for a company. I also suggested that both large corporations and small business could be negatively affected by the lack of ethics. However, I do feel that a larger corporation has the ability to rebound from poor publicity, due to today’s existence of mass media.

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