Similarities Between Personal Ethics & Business Ethics

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Individual ethics are often derived from experience and personal sources, while business ethics are derived from professional codes conduct, contractual obligations, the law and industry standards. Occasionally, personal and professional ethics may be at odds with each other. Consider a judge who is against capital punishment, but still hands out death penalties because that is the law in her state. However, in many cases personal and business ethics often have much in common.

Individual ethics are often derived from experience and personal sources, while business ethics are derived from professional codes conduct, contractual obligations, the law and industry standards. Occasionally, personal and professional ethics may be at odds with each other. Consider a judge who is against capital punishment, but still hands out death penalties because that is the law in her state. However, in many cases personal and business ethics often have much in common.

Society’s Expectations

Both business and personal ethics are frequently based on their societies’ ideals. Society expects certain ethical actions from both organizations and individuals. Any person or group breaking society’s code is subject to scrutiny and certain consequences. Laws, religious guidelines, peer expectations and industry standards all fall under the umbrella of societal expectations, though different groups in the same category may have different expectations. Consider the ethical standards of the music industry vs. the ethical standards of the oil industry. They vary because the purpose of the industry varies. Similarly, the moral expectations of different peer groups can lead to diverse personal ethical directives.

Continuity

Neither personal ethics nor professional ethics are ever finished developing. Both types of ethics begin with common sense and the law, and are eventually modified based on need and experience. Experience is unending; its lessons are collected and passed on as modification to ethical guidelines. Memory of experience fails because of time, change, death or other factors. Ethics supersedes memory by providing psychological continuity for both businesses and individuals.

Responsibility

Ethics implies some degree of responsibility. Individuals and businesses must uphold the ethics that they claim to adhere to or they will suffer the consequences. Business, professionals and individuals are all liable for their actions, both ethical and unethical. A lapse in ethics has three different levels: negligence, gross negligence and deliberate wrongdoing. Each degree of ethical breach has different consequences dependent on the level of the offense and the standards of the society in which the business or individual functions.

Methodology

Ethical responsibilities might include daily or regular tasks that contribute to the overall ethical code. In a business focused on ethical customer service, a manager may conduct daily customer service audits to ensure that the company’s ethical code is consistently fulfilled. An individual dedicated to environmental morals may recycle every day to show consistent responsibility in their chosen sphere of ethics. The second part of ethical methodology includes looking forward to ensure that current activities produce an outcome that’s ethically acceptable to the business or organization. This projection often leads to the daily or routine tasks that promote the ethical code.

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About the Author

Roslyn Frenz started writing professionally in 2005, covering music, business ethics and philosophy. Her work has appeared in "Designing Wealth," "The Other Side," "Upstate Live" and many other publications. Frenz has a bachelor's degree in business marketing from the University of Phoenix. She is pursuing an M.F.A. in creative writing.

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