Business Ethics: moral guidelines for the conduct of business based on notions of what is right, wrong and fair. Debates about CSR are not just debates about whether specific social ills should be addressed by specific corporations. The Hoffman Center for Business Ethics is very pleased to announce that two new members have joined the Kallman Executive Fellows Program: Gael ‘Brien and Tom White. It’s likely this definition will be refined and reworked as I progress, but I feel this is a good starting point. If a business law attorney is unwilling to offer a fee agreement in writing, do not choose that lawyer.
Back at the dawn of time, when I was in business school, Johnson & Johnson was held up as the gold standard for handling product recalls, for its swift response when cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules in a handful of Chicago-area stores caused seven consumer deaths in 1982. Alex: Well you’ve got to be very careful with the notion of responsibility; there are several ideas in play. The aim of ethics is develop a body of moral standards that a person feels reasonable to hold based on careful thought.
It is convenient and efficient, for a customer to be able to obtain the same good from the same vendor, and for a business to sell to repeat customers. Thus the real purpose of business is service for the society, for the customers, for the environment and making profit for the owner. When there is a social connection between individuals, the motivation of another person to intervene for the welfare of another person seems reasonable, though there remains an obligation to be diligent in ensuring that the intent of the action is understood. Our Code of Ethics contains provisions regarding conflicts of interest for employees.
This further underscores the conclusion that it would be incorrect to apply ethics to an object, but to the action that involves its use. It is important to realize that a resolution of the debate between shareholder and stakeholder theorists (however we conceive of the latter) will not resolve all or even most of the ethical questions in business. While applied ethicists may at times succeed in making compelling philosophical arguments for increased personal and corporate responsibility and government regulation, these can often be rather abstract.
One of the weaknesses I have noticed in many studies of this topic is a narrow focus on the immediate transaction, without consideration of the long-term interests of both the customer and the business. Discussing on the ethical aspect of business, naturally it will tell us that the centre of business attention is not merely profit but also its social responsibilities. A key part of our business is marketing pharmaceutical products to doctors, hospitals and governments, which is why business ethics are also relevant in our marketing practices.