Ethical Issues in Maximizing Profit
When you start a for-profit business, making as much money as possible is probably a goal. Similarly, any partners, financial investors or creditors would like you to maximize profits. However, it is important to weigh profit objectives with potential ethical issues at the onset of your operation to avoid public backlash and negative long-term implications.
Many of the ethical issues in profit maximization center on customers, given that they directly provide the revenue you need to earn a profit. Profit maximization dictates that you attract customers and create sales at all costs. However, ethical demands suggest you need to operate with honesty, transparency in marketing and a more customer-centric attitude. In the short-term, you may miss sales by being honest. However, building a reputation for integrity and customer-friendliness can benefit you with increased customer loyalty and higher long-term profit as a result.
Profit maximization also suggests that your best move in a community is to figure out how to get the best location, tap into all possible subsidies and give little consideration to how your money-making endeavors affect the local area in which you operate. Ethically, this isn't a good way to build a favorable reputation with community leaders and citizens. Instead, communities typically expect companies to get involved in local activities and events and to give back in some way for the financial benefits they receive, even if that may take some revenue away from the bottom line.
Labor is one of the most significant costs to a business and costs impede profit. Thus, profit maximizers pay the lowest possible wages, cut corners on benefits and may even hire illegal workers or fail to pay for overtime. Aside from the legal implications, creating a work environment that is unfair for employees fails the ethics test. Along with basic compensation factors, companies also must promote a non-discriminatory culture. Paying for safety training and equipment can also eat into profit, but ethics require you need to provide the safest operation possible for your workers.
Business associates and partners that support your profit-generation also have some ethical expectations. First, they expect that you operate with integrity to avoid indirectly damaging their reputations. Additionally, your suppliers expect that you communicate honestly, don't use their products for unethical purposes and pay your bills on time. Treating suppliers fairly may cost more initially, but strong supplier partnerships can provide benefits to your operation and brand in the long-term.