In the complex global business environment of the 21st century, companies of every size face a multitude of ethical issues. Businesses have the responsibility to develop codes of conduct and ethics that every member of the organization must abide by and put into action. Fundamental ethical issues include concepts such and integrity and trust, but more complex issues include accommodating diversity, decision-making, compliance and governance.
The most fundamental or essential ethical issues that businesses must face are integrity and trust. A basic understanding of integrity includes the idea of conducting your business affairs with honesty and a commitment to treating every customer fairly. When customers perceive that a company is exhibiting an unwavering commitment to ethical business practices, a high level of trust can develop between the business and the people it seeks to serve.
According to the HSBC Group, "the world is a rich and diverse place full of interesting cultures and people, who should be treated with respect and from whom there is a great deal to learn." An ethical response to diversity begins with recruiting a diverse workforce, enforces equal opportunity in all training programs and is fulfilled when every employee is able to enjoy a respectful workplace environment that values their contributions.
According to Santa Clara University, the following framework for ethical decision-making is a useful method for exploring ethical dilemmas and identifying ethical courses of action: "recognizes an ethical issue, gets the facts, evaluates alternative actions, makes a decision and tests it and reflects on the outcome. " Ethical decision-making processes should center on protecting employee and customer rights, making sure all business operations are fair and just, protecting the common good and making sure individual values and beliefs of workers are protected.
Compliance and Governance Issues
Businesses are expected to fully comply with environmental laws, federal and state safety regulations, fiscal and monetary reporting statutes and all applicable civil rights laws. The Aluminum Company of America's approach to compliance issues states, "no one may ask any employee to break the law, or go against company values, policies and procedures." ALCOA's commitment to compliance is underpinned by the company's approach to corporate governance; "We expect all directors, officers and other Alcoans to conduct business in compliance with our Business Conduct Policies
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