When considering a given action, the roles in creating the situation seem to be little importance. This module explores business-society relations through the theories and practices of business ethics and social responsibility (BE&SR). Biannually, these employees undergo a web-based compliance and ethics training program to refresh and enhance awareness of the Code of Ethics, including issues such as insider trading, conflicts of interest, and harassment. In the case of three exam questions each question counts for one third of the points.

This seems a matter of classification that may have no direct bearing on ethical responsibility: the decision-maker rather than the benefactor is responsible for the ethics of a decision, though it may be said that it is for the sake of the benefactor that the decision was made. Novo Nordisk has global business ethics procedures in place that establish minimum global requirements for employees and third parties.

Bob also discusses ethics in relationship to specific business scenarios: working with suppliers and vendors, organizational decision making, and doing business internationally. That doesn’t cut me loose from the responsibility of trying to find out, of pressuring the store from which I buy to provide that information, and to abide by the agreements that they sign. Ethics is supposed to be either black or white, right or wrong, but today it is many shades of grey.

However, it is imperative that the small business owner not make the same mistake that larger organizations often do; the ethical policies that a business develops must not be in conflict with the organizational goals. The current chairman, Oswald Grunwald, was brought out of retirement (from Credit Suisse) specifically to bring a new ethics focus; it is now rumored that the trading loss will cost him his job – just as substantive legal and ethical lapses brought an end to the prior chief executives (Peter Wuffli, in 2007, and Marcel Rohner, in 2009). Ethics is concerned with the social context of action – the consequences of an action to other parties.

But this question has seemed especially pressing in international contexts, and many of the most famous examples of CSR—including the case of Merck and River Blindness discussed in section 7.1 —take place in the developing world. My aim is to consider the circumstances in which the standards of ethics may conclude that an individual is obligated to act for the benefit of another party.