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Business Ethics

”A life lived with integrity, even if it lacks the trappings of fame and fortune, is a shining star in whose light others may follow in the years to come.”

 – Denis Waitley

Business Ethics

Businesses have an obligation to conduct themselves professionally and to best serve their customers and employees.  Operating by a list of ethical standards helps companies to navigate challenges, provide exceptional service and retain quality employees.


Ethics is not identical to faith, feelings, following the law, or social expectations.  Rather, ethics encompasses:

  • Refraining from wrong actions, like larceny, murder, or fraud.
  • Human rights, like the right to life and also the right to privacy.
  • Virtues like honesty, compassion, and loyalty.

Organizations are to adopt standards that promote ethical values;

What is Business Ethics?

By definition, business ethics are the moral principles that act as guidelines for the way a business conducts itself and its transactions.  In many ways, the same guidelines that individuals use to conduct themselves in an acceptable way – in personal and professional settings – apply to businesses as well.

Acting ethically ultimately means determining what is “right” and what is “wrong.” Basic standards exist around the world that dictates what wrong or unethical business practices are.  In addition, business ethics ensure that a certain basic level of trust exists between consumers and various forms of market participants with businesses.

Many people engaged in business activity, such as engineers, accountants, and lawyers, are professionals.  They are bound by codes of conduct promulgated by their professional societies.

Also, many firms have detailed codes of conduct developed and enforced by ethics and compliance personnel.  Business ethics can thus be understood as the study of professional practices.

Business leaders and entrepreneurs need to decide if their business model needs its own code of ethics.  Reasons for a code of ethics are,

  • Explains your expectations.
  • Showcases the drive for success
  • Improves employee retention rates
  • Builds trust with external stakeholders
  • Attracts quality candidates who share similar values:

Creating a Code of Ethics

Several ideas on how to create a code of ethics are,

  1. Define the company’s priorities – Creating a code of ethics based on your top priorities makes it more focused and clear to your employees and the public.
    2.  Speak with employees about content to include – Use their suggestions to determine what to include in your code to foster a positive workplace.
    3.  Underline acceptable workplace behavior – Companies with a zero-tolerance policy for misconduct show that they have high standards for conduct in the workplace and commit themselves to doing the right thing at all times.
    4.  Note who is in charge of compliance – Search for someone who has a track record in upholding ethical procedures.

The Bible

Ethics is concerned with the way we ought to conduct our lives.

Clearly, then, it is an integral part of biblical revelation.  From Genesis to Revelation, we find principles, precepts, commands, warnings, guidelines, and counsels that are intended to steer our lives toward that which is right, good, and God-honoring.

The apostle Paul tells us that Scripture was given not only to reveal God’s way of salvation but also to train us in righteousness and equip us for “every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:14–17).

Therefore, the whole Bible teaches us which acts, attitudes, and personal character traits receive God’s approval and which ones do not.

This means that Christian ethics teaches us how to live.  Therefore, it is essential to study Christian ethics so that we can better know God’s will and so that each day we can “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (Col. 1:10).

Ethics, as found in the Bible, differ from the ethic we see in our culture today.  Biblical ethics is based on God’s moral character and not simply pleasing other people.

Romans 12:2 says,

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Consideration of ethics is the most important responsibility of business leaders and entrepreneurs today. 

We cannot rely on our own internal sense of right and wrong.  Professional societies and larger organizations have taken the initiative and developed a starting point for business ethics. 

However, we all should look to Christian ethics as the foundation of all our personal and professional practices.