Business ethics

All posts tagged Business ethics

Techniques for Practicing Mindful Awareness

Published July 25, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair
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Many people are under the impression that they don’t have time to practice mindfulness. They feel their day is already so full that they are too busy to fit anything else in. In short, most people think mindfulness is something that is only practiced when they can make time, like they do when they plan a vacation or an outing to enjoy nature. Mindfulness, however, according to Plum Village Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (2012), can be practiced anywhere at any time–at home, at the office, or even during a hectic and busy work day (Hanh, 2012). In other words, we don’t need to set time aside in order to practice mindful awareness; it only takes a few breaths to generate the energy of mindfulness that will bring us back to the present moment.
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When we are centered in the present and let go of thoughts about the past or the future, Hanh refers to this strategy as stopping. The stopping tactic is the strategy that works to bring us back to the present moment, where we can focus energy on our surroundings. The thought behind this tactic is that when we learn to stop everything we are doing, it can help us clear our minds so we can begin to see things more clearly from a new perspective. When we see with clarity, we are in a better position to understand the predicament or situation at hand. This is one way we can cultivate an ethical environment of understanding, compassion, peace, and happiness. In other words, in order to be fully present at our place of work with our colleagues, or personal life with our friends and family, we need to learn the art of stopping. Until we can stop and notice what is happening in the present moment, especially when we are experiencing heightened emotions, it will be difficult to generate joy, awareness, or compassion.
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In his book, Work: How to Find Joy and Meaning in Each Hour of the Day, Hanh (2013) reveals how one successful business man has incorporated the practice of mindful awareness into his schedule. The busy executive does this by paying close attention to walking with awareness between business appointments. In other words, he practices mindful walking, placing awareness on his in-and-out breaths as he walks between office buildings at his place of employment. The business exec reports that people who pass him by smile at him because he seems so calm amidst the hustle and bustle of the crowds rushing by. Furthermore, the business man asserts that his meetings, even with difficult people, have become a lot easier and more pleasant since he started this practice. In a fast-paced world where chaos reigns, the evidence supports that implementing mindful practices like this, can help make the journey on this roller coaster of life more manageable.

Well, that wraps things up for this week. Wishing everyone a great weekend and have fun implementing your own methods of practicing mindful awareness.

References:

Hanh, T. N. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

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“Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts…”  – Robert Fulghum
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Mindfulness: A Closer Look

Published July 23, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Have you ever heard someone describe people that act without thinking as “being asleep at the wheel?” This is one way to identify individuals that are not mindful of their behavior or actions. In my eBook, Ethics in the Real World (2013), I point out that unlimited power without compassion encourages unlimited corruption (Berry, 2013). In other words, people who are not mindful of their actions or behave without regard for consequences typically find it easier to engage in unethical behavior. Mindfulness, on the other hand, is the act of behaving in a conscious manner. Plum Village founder Thich Nhat Hanh (2012), describes mindfulness as the act of bringing one’s full attention to what is happening in the present moment. He suggests that when we bring our minds back to our bodies, we are focused on the present moment (Hanh, 2012).

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Hanh further explains that mindfulness is a kind of energy that helps us to be fully present so that we can live our lives in the here and now. Students at Plum Village for instance, are educated and understand how to work with this energy. Individuals are trained in techniques that will help them focus on mindful awareness as a means to achieve successful outcomes. To begin the process, they learn the practice of in-and-out breathing exercises. What is appealing about this technique, is that in various ways, any one of us can easily engage in these tactics to generate our own energy of mindfulness. For example, when we center our attention on breathing in-and-out, we are focused on the air moving in and out of our body, putting other thoughts aside. Hanh refers to this technique as mindful breathing. Likewise, when we drink a glass of water or a cup of coffee and focus all our attention on nothing else but drinking, he calls this practice mindful drinking. When we walk and focus our awareness on our posture, our breathing, our legs, and the footsteps we take, this technique is called mindful walking. All of these examples illustrate strategies for practicing mindful awareness.

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When we focus our attention first on our breathing, Hanh asserts that we are able to unite the body with the mind, bringing our full attention to the present moment. From there, we can become more aware of everything that’s happening in that moment and observe it with a fresh perspective, without getting caught up in our past experiences or consumed by anxieties about the future. By applying these concepts, we can transform any ordinary behavior into an act of mindfulness, including brushing our hair, washing the dishes, walking the dog, eating, drinking, and even working.

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Incidentally, mindfulness is not just being mindful about positive things either. For example, when joy manifests, we practice mindfulness of joy. When anger manifests, however, we practice mindfulness of anger. Whatever strong emotion it is that arises, if we learn to practice mindfulness of that emotion, in other words, acknowledge it, not suppress or act on it, then transformation can occur which enables us to find more joy, peace, and awareness. These proven strategies have been effective for encouraging ethical behavior with successful outcomes at the Plum Village Community. The good news everyone, is that we don’t have to move to Plum Village to have these experiences. We can also learn how to incorporate mindful behavior to achieve positive changes that can also help us to develop more meaningful relationships. On Friday we will examine some of the techniques to achieve this and find out how one successful corporate executive fit this practice into his schedule. We will also learn more about how we can apply these techniques in our own lives, anywhere, anytime. Until then be mindful and stay organized!

References:

Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Hanh, T. N. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

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Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler. – Albert Einstein

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When is Lying as a Strategy Ethical?

Published July 18, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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My research on ethical decision making revealed that in order to create and maintain a successful business, leaders must include ethical decision-making as one of the firm’s operational processes. In addition, they must also comprehend and identify potential issues and educate staff members on what defines ethical decisions within the context of the organization. In their book, Business Ethics (2013) Ferrell et al., remind us that more often than not, business leaders automatically assume their staff members will make ethical decisions the same way they do in their home: with family or friends in their inner circle. However, within the construct of an organization or work group, not many people have the freedom to make decisions on ethical issues that are independent of the organization’s parameters. Furthermore, their research also revealed that to help establish an ethical environment, business leaders must also take into consideration the many components involved with the ethical decision-making process, including: (a) ethical issue intensity, (b) individual factors, and (c) organizational components including the corporation’s culture (Ferrell, Ferrell, & Fraedrich, 2013). These are significant elements that can influence the intentions behind decisions which lead to ethical or unethical conduct.

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The media’s recent expose on the VA scandal, for example, revealed that the organization developed a culture that nurtured lying as a strategy. One reason was to ensure certain supervisors would qualify for monetary bonuses. However, this is an industry where implementing the use of lying as a strategy can cause great harm and brings extreme disgrace to their governmental organization, as well as to the public. In fact, the ongoing investigation continues to reveal, that this strategy yielded catastrophic outcomes including the fatalities of many heroic veterans who honorably served their country; veterans that trusted and relied on this government agency to provide them the assistance they desperately required in the healing process. This scandal was yet another horrifying reminder of how the use of lying as a strategy can have dire consequences.

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With all the evidence piling up to support that engaging in a strategy of lying can yield catastrophic outcomes, my research work also included a closer examination of when the use of lying as a strategy is acceptable and see if I could track down any examples to support this position. To answer this, I simply had to look back at my own professional career experiences to confirm that there is only one profession that I know of, in which this strategy is not only used, but is expected as well: magic and illusion.

As an entertainer who spent nearly fifteen years traveling and performing with magicians and illusionists, I can personally vouch that the career of an illusionist is the one profession where the public is happy to embrace the idea of lying as a strategy. Many magicians that choose to pursue this career path do so as a life calling. That was not the case with me. I revealed in my eBook, Ethics in the Real World, (2013), in more detail, how I got involved in this magical industry. The truth is, up until that point, I was focused on pursuing a career as a theatrical stage performer, but got sidetracked along the way when I moved to Los Angeles and infiltrated the music industry by becoming a corporate staff member at Capitol-EMI Records.

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The magic industry was my first experience working in a profession that incorporated lying as a key strategic ingredient for how I was making a living. I had always been perceived by many as a “goodie two-shoes” because I was known for going by the book and following rules to a “tee.” For me, using tactics like misdirection and misinformation was a foreign concept. I had to learn how to think outside the box of what I comprehended was reality. Once I did that, I was in a state of mind more open to embrace different realms of possibilities. In laymen’s terms, I learned how the art of lying and misdirection are used as a strategy to yield positive outcomes.

Stage illusions and the art of magic, once rehearsed and perfected for a live theatrical stage performance, are merely a form of entertainment that incorporates the concept of lying; one that the audience has come to expect. Many people are accepting of this concept because they know the rules of this field before hand (transparency) and have given themselves permission to participate in this world of illusion. The reason for this is because it is one brand of entertainment that can provide the public with a sense of wonder, which in turn stimulates them emotionally. Furthermore, the anticipated payoff for this experience is that the consumer is left feeling positive and transformed from the experience. In a world where competition is fierce and life seems to be a struggle at times, people need and want a place to escape. The entertaining world of stage magic and illusion offers the public an opportunity to experience a different kind of reality – one where the impossible seems possible.

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In summary, my research work on when the use of lying as a strategy can be implemented ethically, led me to conclude that the industry of magic and illusion is one market where consumers have given their permission and expect to participate in the art of deception as a form of escapism and entertainment. In short, my analysis revealed that there is an ideal market for the use of lying as a strategy that can produce positive outcomes. Plus, I discovered there are effective ways to do so ethically: being transparent and choosing a career that reveals to consumers it is all part of an illusion. In other words, implementing this tactic is merely done as a means of entertainment, allowing audience members the opportunity to escape their problems for a little while to enter into a realm where the wonder of magic is real.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, everyone, and keep working on chiseling those organizational management skills!

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We can run a business by placing a lot of emphasis on happiness in addition to placing some emphasis on profit as well. – Thich Nhat Hanh

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References:

Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Ferrell, L., Ferrell, O., & Fraedrich, J. (2013). Business ethics: Ethical decision making and cases (9th ed.). Mason: South-Western.

 

Success in Management and Communication

Published June 9, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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There are two themes that are relevant in the world of communication, learning communication skills to help navigate a successful career and adapting these skills to succeed in a leadership or managerial position. Baack (2012) suggests that leaders with superior communication skills not only gather information, they comprehend and communicate that information in a way that empowers others while earning their respect and loyalty. These are the architects that establish new career models as a framework that can be applied to any industry (Baack, 2012). In other words, these leaders have developed a strong set of principles to guide their interpersonal relationships as well as the communication constructs that motivates them to achieve successful outcomes.

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In my eBook, Breaching Communication Barriers (2013), I reveal how communication problems in the workplace can become hostile and toxic as well as the role employees play in tearing down a company’s reputation (Berry, 2013). In the meantime, employees that communicate a positive view of their organization are also happy to offer their loyalty to a firm. For example, Southwest Airlines, (SWA) one of America’s success stories, provides an ideal example of how effective communication played an integral role in helping them build a successful business model. Herb Kelleher, the firm’s leader, worked hard with his employees to build and maintain a reputation influenced by his management style which included the following concepts: (a) revealing the company’s purpose, vision and values, (b) making people heroes, (c) being honest and consistent with communication, (d) maintaining a flow of open communication between all divisions, and (e) providing staff members with applicable information to help them make the most effective decisions.

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While many leaders focus their strategies by keeping the customer happy, the SWA leader focused his model on keeping the employees happy. He believed this was the most effect method to succeed in the aviation industry because employees that are content and valued at the workplace are also motivated to perform at higher levels.

On Wednesday we will take a closer look at the similarities and differences in business and management communication. Until then … keep working on reaching your highest potential!

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A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem. – Albert Einstein

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References:

Baack, D. (2012). Management Communication. San Diego, CA, USA: Bridgepoint Education.

Berry, M. A. (2013). Breaching Communication Barriers (Vol. 2). (C. Angela, Ed.) USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

 

 

 

Ethics in the Real World

Published January 31, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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All of us are visionaries with something to share. Connecting fulfills us and enables us to help others find fulfillment as well. – D Chopra

Today more than ever many of us are questioning the role that ethics plays in organizational management.  When companies like ENRON and WorldComm are exposed it makes us ponder the question, how is it that corporate leaders are able to develop a culture that encourages ethical misconduct like that? What does it take to convince staff members to engage in behavior that results in poor judgement: Greed? Power? An overblown ego?

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The topic of corporate ethics is an important issue that leaders continue to face in the workplace. This includes everything from stealing from the company, cheating or short-changing clients, sexual misconduct, and corporate operations that pollute the environment. In short, corporate leaders are faced with many issues because many lack a code of ethics by which to adhere to. As this has become a significant topic in the business world and because of my own personal experiences with ethical misconduct in a corporate arena, I conducted extensive research work on this important issue and published my findings in an article that is now available on amazon.com at the link below, for those interested. In this article, I will explain why it is important to develop a strong ethical culture in both our personal lives as well as in the work place and take a closer look at how issues of self-esteem and self-efficacy can play a role in shaping an individual’s perceptions of right and wrong behavior.

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I also examine how narcissistic personality and character disorders that can influence ethical behavior citing examples from my own experiences as an entrepreneur in the entertainment industry and corporate insider as an alumnus of Capitol EMI Records to help illustrate how ethics can help steer individuals and their companies to the path of success or epic failure.

Ethics in the Real World

In the meantime, be on the lookout for another new article coming soon on the current topic I am researching:

Strategic Management!

Until then … stay organized!

Ethics in the Global Marketplace

Published August 5, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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The global marketplace continues to expand because of the increasing number of organizations that are now engaged in commerce outside of their own jurisdiction. Boatright (2009) purports that as large multinational corporations (MNC) cross their own boundaries intense competition is at the core for the elevated levels of ethical problems that arise because in most cases, leaders and managers are unprepared to address them (Boatright, 2009). For example, many MNCs often engage in practices that exploit inexpensive labor and natural resources from less developed countries (LDC) and most do so without making investments in them that would help advance their economic development. Corporate leaders, for example,  find themselves in situations where they are forced to make unethical choices because they are being asked to place the procurement of profits as their primary goal disregarding the health and welfare of the consumers that support them. Leaders in one case study were asked to provide products that contained harmful substances and export them to other markets outside the US where little restrictions apply. The fact that managers even have to consider this as an option personally is appalling and at heart of why we are seeing so many examples of corporate misconduct exposed in the headlines like a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant that shipped contaminated vaccinations, or a peanut farm that was exported products contaminated with salmonella. When corporate leaders are faced with issues like these, profit is usually at the forefront of their decisions over safety.

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Corporate leaders are driven and have a duty to make sure their organization is run efficiently to achieve successful outcomes. Byron (2006) suggests that with the guidance of corporate leaders, a company’s purpose is to articulate their dominant values, translate those values into their principals and allow those principals to influence corporate culture. For example, the old version of corporate culture was characterized by such values like freedom, individuality, competition, loyalty, efficiency, self-reliance, power, stability, contractual obligations, and profit. If these values are not regulated and controlled, unworthy values like greed and the motive to dominate rather than serve can propel individuals and organizations to engage in ethical misconduct. In the new corporate climate however, leaders are embracing and learning to comprehend the ethical connection between the organization and a broader picture of its stakeholders which include employees, supplies, consumers, the community and the environment (Byron, 2006). Regardless of the situation an individual find themselves in, the final decision should reflect good judgment and the right choice, which in my view, does not include bringing harm to stakeholders. This in the long term, is a best practice choice.

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Unfortunately, many leaders are forced to make a decision between profits and the welfare of their consumers.  Some are aware of how other companies handle similar situations and feel immense pressure to adapt those industry practices to save their own hide and remain competitive in their market, or as Ferrell et al. (2013) describe, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2013). Leaders face a multitude of pressures because (a) their organization is showing signs of eroding market share, (b) unethical supervisors put pressure on team leaders to cut costs or layoffs would result, and (c) they are usually under a time restriction to yield results. In addition, rather than work in partnership with colleagues to find the best solution, sometimes supervisors make it clear the weight of the decision is on one person’s shoulders. In a case like this, the decision could yield a positive outcome and everyone is victorious. However, if the decision should prove disastrous, that manager is on their own.  In conclusion, many organizational leaders find themselves facing similar issues because they have not established an ethical culture and instead created a climate that is vulnerable to ethical misconduct.

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References:

Boatright, J. (2009). Ethics and the Conduct of Business (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Byron, W. (2006). The power of principles: Ethics for the new corporate culture. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell. (2013). Business ethics and social responsibility (9th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Ethics and Federal Compliance Laws

Published July 24, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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To comprehend the topic of business ethics, it is important to identify the voluntary and legally required aspects of institutional practices and the behavior that supports it. Aristotle (384– 322 BC) believed that a person’s good or bad character was developed by habituation. In other words a person’s goodness or wickedness is developed as the result of repeatedly engaging in acts that have a common quality. These repetitious acts rely on an individual’s natural aptitudes and tendencies to gravitate towards righteous or immoral behavior (Aristotle, 2012).  In other words, the formation of a person’s character emerges by actions that are committed repeatedly in a certain manner and as a result of being guided or receiving direction externally to support these patterns. Once the behavior is understood by the individual, they can then choose to engage their free will. The continuation then, of the behavior, becomes a habit which over time translates into second nature. This demonstrates how a leader’s conduct and business practices cultivate a climate that is adopted by subordinates. During the Enron scandal for example, investigators discovered that Enron’s leaders developed a culture of deceit that was supported by their top executives, board members, and corporate attorneys, to gain the competitive edge and ensure capital gains.

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The Enron collapse revealed deep failings that existed in the American accounting system and in the operation of corporate boards. Enron and other widespread corporate accounting scandals resulted in Congress establishing the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). It was designed to create a federal oversight system to monitor corporate accounting practices by making financial fraud reporting a criminal offense. Boatright (2009) reported that the SOX Act also increased the penalties for executives that engage in criminal activity. In addition, SOX addressed a wide range of provisions to require corporate transparency in three major areas: financial reporting, corporate boardrooms, and criminal law (Boatright, 2009). Poor business decisions alone however, did not result in Enron’s downfall. What was cleverly disguised from stakeholders was insider plundering. Because of this, Congress feels that Federal oversight is needed. Investors rely heavily on financial reports and in turn these reports can become the vehicles that lead to fraud. For example, by presenting a false image, executives can cover poor performance outcomes to maintain their lavish lifestyles. SOX changed the way corporations address problems with accounting and auditing. It requires that every publicly traded organization establish an independent auditing committee that is solely responsible for detecting fraud. It also supports internal whistle blowing by mandating all companies incorporate policies to support employees reporting acts of fraud without fear of retaliation.

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CEOs careers are now on the line. They are required to sign off on company financial forms to ensure their processors have complied with all mandates. Many corporate chiefs complain about the amount of time and money that is invested to comply with SOX regulations, but most agree that it is worth the trouble to reassure investors. Ferrell et al. (2012) posit that in addition, the law requires corporations to design a code of conduct that includes transparency and accountability in financial reporting to stakeholders (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2013). Experts expect further misconduct to occur despite the regulatory laws because global competitors are not required to comply with these regulations. This means that more scrutiny is called for because the more integrated world markets become, the more difficult it is to compete on a global level when the playing field is uneven. In the meantime, only time will reveal the long term results.

References:

Aristotle. (2012). Ethics. Seattle, WA: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Boatright, J. (2009). Ethics and the Conduct of Business (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell. (2013). Business ethics and social responsibility (9th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Ethical and Moral Philosophies

Published July 19, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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A person’s livelihood is a remarkable opportunity to express their dreams and passions. It can be the source of empowering nourishment, transformation, inspiration, and tranquility. It can also provide a source of anxiety, depression, pain, discomfort, stress, and discontent. Vietnamese Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hahn (2012) contends that the choices people make can determine the amount of joy and happiness they create in their home or at work (Hanh, 2012). Morality and moral reasoning play a pivotal role in the kinds of choices individuals make as well. Leaders, for example, rely on their principles or philosophies to help them decide what behavior is acceptable when making the most effective decisions in the workplace. This research centers on the role ethical and moral philosophies play in the decision-making process for business leaders. It will examine how moral philosophies are applied to affect behavior and illustrate how these values affect outcomes. In addition, the study will provide examples of corporations and the strategies they implement to shape moral philosophies into their culture and codes of conduct. These findings will deduce that ethical and moral philosophies influence the behavior of a leader in the decision-making process because they help them: (a) identify right and wrong behavior, (b) develop a code of conduct that guides business practices, (c) integrate global strategic planning efforts to avoid violations, and (d) navigate the company toward positive outcomes.

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A Closer Look at Ethics and Morality

Moral Philosophy Defined

Moral philosophies influence behavior because for one thing, everyone has an opinion about something. In other words, human beings make judgments and evaluations constantly. It is part of human nature. When the topic of philosophy is discussed, however, most people refer to it as the general set of values they accept. However, moral philosophy applies to specific regulations and principles that people follow to determine correct and incorrect behavior. It also offers an explanation and justification as to why things happen. Kurzynski (2004) points out that ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BCE) was one of the most significant principal figures of philosophical thought and considered a great, if not the greatest, thinker of his era. He was instrumental in asking questions that made people ponder character development, integrity, personal responsibility, and empathy towards others (Kurzynski, 2004).  In short, he made important contributions to society by providing insight into human behavior. This in turn helped individuals to identify the constructs of what makes life worth living.

Leaders that do not adhere to moral and ethical behavior justify their misconduct as a viable means to achieve the end goal. This kind of leader does so without taking into consideration the short or long term repercussions, as witnessed in the Enron scandal. This occurs because moral judgments differ. People judge behavior, omissions, and also form opinions on other people in general.  For example, a person might consider someone a shady character based on the kind of garments they donned. This kind of judgment, however, tends to lead to inaccurate conclusions. Barcalow’s (2007) research offers a blueprint for making moral decisions about right or wrong by asking some of the following important questions: (a) what are all the relevant facts about a situation, (b) how will the social and physical environments be affected, (c) what actions will produce the least and the most harm, (d) what rules apply to the situation, (e) what would be the most caring and compassionate thing to do under the circumstances, and (f) what (if any) violations have occurred  with respect to the rights of others that are relevant in this situation (Barcalow, 2007). By asking these and other pertinent questions, leaders can help ascertain the most logical course of action that will achieve the highest benefits.

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How Moral Philosophies Influence Behavior

Ethical and moral philosophies can play a significant role to influence a leader’s behavior in the corporate environment. Forsyth (1992) purported that a business leader’s moral judgments are influenced by two fundamental components – a concern for values and promoting well-being. For example, an individual with a teleological philosophy performs as a situationist that advocates setting goals for the best possible consequences regardless of moral tenets. A leader who acts from a virtue ethics philosophy is a subjectivist, on the other hand, and may veto moral guidelines and core judgments based on personal principles and practical concerns, whereas an individual that follows a utilitarian philosophy is an absolutist that assumes their actions are ethical, contingent upon yielding positive outcomes that conform to moral rules (Forsyth, 1992). Most experts agree, however, that an individual’s moral beliefs, attitudes, and values create an interconnected system that defines the makeup of their personal moral philosophy.  These set of values and beliefs dictate a leader’s decisions taking into consideration the nature of the issue.

Integrating Moral Philosophies in Business

Employers that integrate moral philosophies into their business practice look for more effective ways to achieve win-win solutions.  According to Mobley (2002), the upsurge in restructuring and the downsizing of organizations has limited professional advancement opportunities for employees. As a result, job security, fair wages, decent working conditions, and equitable treatment are now concerns that managers face. These dilemmas force leaders to manage the ethical implications of these changes. Most are inadequate because they lack the skills and tools to help employees transit. Studies indicate that education plays a significant role. Evidence suggests that training executives can help with the decision-making process. It helps equip them to handle the morality issues better that often result from such events like downsizing, outsourcing, or other significant occupational changes that occur, like incorporating greener business practices (Mobley, 2002). For instance, leaders at corporations like Patagonia and Esprit have taken more innovative approaches to adopt green business policies. Esprit, for example, created a product line called the E-collection which consists of socially aware products that are manufactured in an environmentally conscious manner. The Patagonia Corporation, on the other hand, has developed a self-imposed earth tax that is designed for the preservation and restoration of natural resources. These are two examples of how huge conglomerates have incorporated ethical and moral philosophies in their business practices. These companies adopted ethical business practices as part of their corporate wide culture. They consider these modifications as necessary efforts and sacrifices to maintain their commitment to a socially responsible process that is in continual motion.

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The Impact on Global Strategic Planning

The moral and ethical philosophies of an organization also impact global strategic planning. Callahan (2008) suggested that recognizing moral judgments often buried in arguments, especially that postulate matters of economic science, are likely to expose views based on moral assumption rather than rational examination. This can lead to closer scrutiny of the arguments which inevitably produces better policy choices (Callahan, 2008). For example, when corporate giant, The Gap, discovered their foreign manufacturing plants were creating toxic conditions that caused harm to the employees, local residents, and the environment, immediate actions were taken to find solutions to the situation. Events such as these, inspire executives to look closer at who they conduct business with and in many cases motivate leaders to implement more socially responsible choices in their business practices even if that equates to partnerships with smaller vendors.

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Codes of Conduct

Ethics and moral philosophies also play an integral role to help leaders establish a code of conduct that helps guide personnel behavior and achieve desired goals in alignment with an organization’s vision. Singer (2012) suggested that every great team, culture, society, religion, and organization that has stood the test of time have one thing in common – a simple set of powerful rules that guide internal behavior and expectations. This set of rules is known as a code of ethics. These policies guide and empower an individual or group to reach successful goals. Organizations that implement a code of ethics do so to maintain, enforce, and implement controlled growth for the entity. It can include parameters that identify acceptable personality traits, behavioral boundaries, outline desired performance levels, as well as identify social and work ethic expectations (Singer, 2012). The intent is to create a set of guidelines that organizations use to help influence employee behavior and organizational outcomes. For example, one organization may create a code of ethics that requests staff members to engage in the following virtuous conduct as a representative of the company: (a) stand up for the weak and defenseless, (b) engage in transparency business practices, and (c) always speak the truth. This code of ethics example, offers simple guidelines easy enough for any individual to follow.

Conclusion

Leaders are influenced by ethical and moral philosophies. This helps them navigate their organizations with confidence to attain their goals.  Hanh’s (2012) teachings reminds us that people have a lot more influence than they realize when it comes to creating an ethical work environment. Leaders that are properly trained to make mindful decisions are presented with an opportunity to cultivate joy and passion in the workplace without creating harmful consequences that affect other sentient beings or contaminate the environment. When organizations work in partnership with employees and other stakeholders, there is great potential to contribute to positive outcomes that are beneficial to all living things (Hanh, 2012). In conclusion, the findings of this study deduced that leaders who operate without moral standards justify their reckless actions as a means to achieve high levels of success, usually without regard for consequences. Businesses with leaders who incorporate ethical and moral philosophies, on the other hand, influence positive results by establishing a code of conduct that guides their business practice. Leaders that design socially responsible business strategies ultimately encourage higher levels of integrity in staff behavior and achieve outcomes that equate to long term success.

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References:

Barcalow, E. (2007). Moral philosophy: Theories and issues. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Callahan, G. (2008, Summer). Economic analysis, moral philosophy, and public policy. The Independent Review. Oakland, CA, USA. Retrieved July 4, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/211307474?accountid=32521

Forsyth, D. (1992, May). Judging the morality of business practices: The influence of personal moral philosophies. Journal of Business Ethics. Dordrecht, Netherlands. Retrieved July 4, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/198100721?accountid=32521

Hanh, T. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

Kurzynski, M. (2004). An examination of Peter F Drucker’s management philosophy as compared to Aristotle’s moral philosophy. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Ann Arbor, MI, USA. Retrieved July 4, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/305173891?accountid=32521

Mobley, S. (2002). The study of Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development theory and ethics: Considerations in public administration practices. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Ann Arbor, MI, USA. Retrieved July 4, 2012, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/305464221?accountid=32521

Singer, B. (2012). Team code of honor: The secrets of champions. Minden, NV: BZK Press LLC.

Stakeholders and Stakeholder Orientation

Published July 10, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Corporations establish stakeholder orientation because of the influence that ethical issues and social responsibility play in their success and longevity. Boatright (2009) posits that in the traditional system of corporate governance the decision making power is controlled by the shareholders. In addition to control, shareholders are also entitled to the profits (Boatright, 2009). In a business environment however, there are many other groups that have a claim or “stake” in some respect to an organization’s products and services. In addition to the shareholders and investors, the organization’s stakeholders also include the employees, customers, suppliers, government agencies, communities and other special groups that have a claim in some form of the organization’s merchandise, operations, markets, or other areas of interest. This group is known as the primary stakeholders. The secondary stakeholders are the special interest groups and the media that also help influence the operation of a company without direct economic exchange. In this context, primary and secondary stakeholders are in a position to help define an organization’s ethical policies.

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In addition, stakeholders influence business outcomes and businesses influence stakeholders as well. Ferrell et al. (2013) describes this as a two-way relationship. Stakeholder orientation is identified as the manner in which an organization comprehends and tackles stakeholder demands with respect to ethical and social responsibility issues. The corporate governance process is comprised of three sets of actions that include: (a) the collection of information and data throughout the firm, (b) the disbursement and integration of the information, and (c) the reaction of the organization to the information (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2013). In short, stakeholder orientation implements methods to address and manage stakeholder concerns with respect to social responsibility to the community and the environment.

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Because stakeholders have the ability to withdraw their resources, they are critical to an organization’s success and are in a position to define important ethical issues. Organizations that develop effective stakeholder orientation plans identify the corporate culture, stakeholder groups, their issues, and create an open atmosphere for feedback. These are corporate governance strategies that help leaders comprehend the importance of social and ethical responsibility. For example, when activist groups with the help of the media (secondary stakeholders) disclosed to the public that Burger King’s beef supplier was destroying the Brazilian Rainforests, primary stakeholders (consumers, employees, and government agencies) united to boycott the organization to change their behavior. This movement caused Burger King to experience huge profit losses and as a result was forced to implement more ethical decisions into their business practices. The media exposé made stakeholders respond to the significant environmental issue which influenced a change in the business policies that governed the corporation. By making this change, Burger King showed it was a socially responsible corporation. This tactic help them regain their fair share of the market again. In this context, the primary and secondary stakeholders clearly affected how the corporation engaged in tactics of social responsibility with honesty and fairness to achieve positive outcomes. The rain forest was no longer being destroyed by Burger King’s business practices and as a result embraced Greener policies. These actions displayed they were socially responsible by engaging in ethical practices. In doing so, they won back the public’s trust and confidence in their brand.

References:

Boatright, J. (2009). Ethics and the Conduct of Business (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell. (2013). Business ethics and social responsibility (9th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Identifying Ethical and Legal Issues

Published July 8, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Resolving ethical business challenges is not a topic many leaders are anxious to address. However, to stay successful in a competitive business market, leaders are required to make decisions as best as they can. One of the most sensitive issues leaders deal with are trade secrets and the complex set of problems they present with respect to the rights and obligations of personnel and their competitors. Boatright (2009) defined trade secrets as information that is used in the conduct of the business that outsiders do not have access to.  It consists of formulas, patterns, devices or a combination of information that is used in a business operation to give a company the competitive edge in the marketplace (Boatright, 2009).  An example of trade secrets may include ingredients to recipes like Mrs. Field’s Cookies, chemical compositions of products, the schematics and design of machines, details of the manufacturing of products like iPhones, the methods of quality control, results of marketing surveys, financial projections and lists of customer and suppliers.

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Ethical misconduct is common in the brokerage and financial industries because of the large amounts of money are exchanged. Wall Wall Street after all pays attention to corporations that yield high returns. Managers want to impress their family and friends and work hard to achieve high levels of success and affluence. Most are highly educated and well trained. They develop work ethic and patterns from colleagues and peers who achieved higher levels of success. Unfortunately, they do not always engage in ethical tactics to achieve their goals. But, because that is how everyone else conducts business affairs, most new employees follow suit. Unethical conduct is observed by new recruits. They learn the ropes from other high achieving brokers that purport this is how it is done in a competitive market.  New hires gather and use information to achieve higher levels profit and in doing so, cross many ethical boundaries. In this atmosphere, it is easier to go with the flow rather than stand up and go against it which could cause an employee to lose their positions and high status. In a relentless pursuit to achieve respect and success in a firm, in the community, and with their family, who look up to these successful executives, many top managers make unethical choices like using insider information to help favored clients and themselves for reasons of personal gain, because that is what the organizational culture established. The behavior was learned and expected from the peer pressure of succeeding like their colleagues.

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The longer people engage in unethical behavior the sloppier they get and begin to make mistakes they are unable to disguise or cover up. Ferrel et al. (2013) cite one case study of an executive that was engaged in unethical behavior. The case cited an executive that was copied on an email which contained inappropriate language that violated organizational policy. When the rude emails began to surface, rather than address the bad behavior, the executive chose to ignore them and forward them. By this time, in the executive’s career, the leader may have been so accustomed to an imbalance of ethics she no longer had a grip on what was considered ethical conduct. By forwarding the emails that contained rude content, she was considered a participant. Because this behavior left a paper trail that could be traced, it required disciplinary action from all those who engaged. This eventually led to her termination because of further investigations of her other business affairs. She was spotlighted. Evidence uncovered other unethical behavior and questionable business practices she engaged in that she learned from fellow co-workers. In addition, the investigation revealed she used insider information to favor certain customers to yield higher profits and returns. When people are engaged in unethical practices and make one mistake, that mistake shines a light in their direction and usually leads to further probing. That is how ENRON and other corporate scandals were revealed. Once a few unethical practices become evident, investigators intervene and discover more evidence of additional ethical misconduct that can ultimately bring the entire conglomerate down. Ferrel et al. remind us that people are likely to make ethical decisions when they discover the ethical component of an issue. They suggested that the initial stage of understanding business ethics is to develop ethical issue awareness (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2013).  Any type of misrepresentation, manipulation, or an indication of the absence of transparency in the decision making process has the potential to bring harm to others. When people covertly engage in fraudulent, illegal, or deceitful behavior it suggests a strategic plan that is meant to represent only a fragment of the truth. That kind of behavior lacks honesty and truth. Without honesty and truth, there is no trust and most people will not support businesses or leaders that are not trustworthy.

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References:

Boatright, J. (2009). Ethics and the Conduct of Business (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell. (2013). Business ethics and social responsibility (9th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.