Ethics may be termed as the inner guiding moral principles, values and beliefs people use to indicate and identify what is acceptable and appropriate behavior whilst straying away from the opposite (Jones, 2007).
However each individual may perceive different behaviors as acceptable and appropriate depending on the individual's own self-interests, attitudes, beliefs and values.
To dig further into the aspects of business ethics, it is primarily a notion for businesses to act with socially responsible. This is what we may call the amalgamation of ethical behavior with corporate responsibility to ensure any 'wrong-doing' may be called for regulatory action (Fountain, 2012).
It may be considered as the fundamental distinction between right and wrong; morality and immorality applied towards business behavior (Lawrence, Weber, Post, 2004).
As established that ethics applied towards business differentiate from an individual perspective as well as on the corporate front.
In 2000, a survey, within selected U.S. industries, stated that observations of unethical business behavior was highly evident in different aspect of the business environment,
Unsafe working conditions and deceptive sales were around 56%
50% of the survey's select industries, mishandled proprietary or confidential information
Approximately 38% violated privacy rights
Roughly 37% of the industries shipped low-quality or unsafe products
Employment discrimination was found to be at 36%
Instances of sexual harassment were estimated to be 34%
32% participated in product quality or safety test results modifications
Antitrust violations or unfair practices were identified as 32%
While environmental breaches were found to be at 31% (Lawrence, Weber, Post, 2004).
Ethical issues that arise in business may be termed as a form of business corruption.
Many of the features that define corruption (i.e. Violation of rules, omission of a task, gain for one's self-interest, done in secret etc.) form the basis of what we term as unethical behavior. (Ogrean, 2007)
More often, ethical dilemma leads to a decision which may be perceived as unethical. Here at times it is up to the employee to do what he/she perceives as the correct action or even chooses between two negatively impacting decisions (Jones, 2007).
Many employees render that ethical issues arise due to indifference, cynicism, workload and deadline pressures, idealistic monetary achievement aims, impractical career goals and ignorance of company policies. (The Conference Board, 2003).
Ethical issues from a small firm's perspective can be deemed as the setting of an image in the customer's mind. Such as purchasing furniture prior to a customer's visit with the intent of returning it upon the customer's departure.
Each decision made impacts the companies ethical stance in the future
At times, many such ethical issues may arise due to situational circumstances (Forbes, 2013).
Some employers believe that the sense of morality is instilled in each being meaning that they are bound to act in a righteous manner. Hence their lack of a set ethical policy or code of conduct proves to be an excuse for the employees who wander off in the opposite direction (Webley, 2001).
Self-interest and other personal reasons are thought to be the steering people in making decisions. If the element of self-interest is high more often the chosen route is of unethical conduct in all environments and against business practices. Such people are termed to be as 'ethical egoist'.
This self-interest and the eagerness to advance one's career regardless of the consequences is one of the key causes for business to have ethical issues.
A competitive business environment often causes moral issues.
Low profit yielding companies tend to make poor and illegal decisions just to remain in competitive environment.
Larger corporations participate in price-fixing to be able to skim off extra from the customer
Cross Cultural contradictions are another cause of the ethical predicament, for what may be acceptable in another country can very well be against the law in another. (Yahoo! Voice, 2008)
Abusive and intimidating behavior is another cause of rising ethical issues
Bullying and/or creating a hostile environment often leads to serious legal implications as well.
According to The Workplace Bullying institute's survey, 37% of U.S. employees have been through a bullying incidence
Conflict of interest is thought to be another factor that brings upon the ethical dilemma,
An example maybe a family member of a HR manager applies for a position for which the manager is interviewing other applicants.