Business ethics is a division of ethics that pertains to the interaction of business and ethics and applies ethical analysis to the business area. It is both expressive and normal. The five activities within business ethics can be delineated as follows:
1. Using general ethical principles to specific practices in business.
2. The analysis of whether moral terms related to individuals' actions may be applied to combined entities such as firms.
3. Analysis of presumptions of business.
4. Analysis of other related areas of information as guided by embedded problems in business.
5. Describing morally commendable and exemplary actions of firms (Barrett, 2009).
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) entails any activity that encourages the interests of any stakeholder of a business corporation. Occasionally CSR refers to philanthropic programs that target communities or employees. In other instances it refers to obligations to promote the welfare of suppliers. It also refers to an assortment of activities designed to enhance environmental stewardship or sustainability. In general, it refers to the blurred intention to better society. When used loosely, the term can be combined with common ethical practices in regards to customers, investors, or any other stakeholder. Basically, the term has an assortment of meanings and functions. Today, it can pertain to every business within all industries. The CSR concept of laxity and oversimplification allow it to include such a wide variety of ethical practices that have virtually become meaningless (Ludescher and Ahsud, 2010). Based on the beliefs of CSR, there are several implicit assumptions that are embedded in CSR. These include:
Normal business performances are unjust, unsafe, environmentally destructive, and unethical.
Ordinary firms essentially present no value to a community or society as a whole.
The profits of a firm accrue to their primary stakeholders only.
Common firms take something from society.
A critical stipulation of the usual business is a selfish and uncompassionate nature (Barrett, 2009).
Determining the appropriate courses of action that needs to be taken falls within the realm of a viewpoint known as ethics. The term ethical is often used universally used to mean a code of values used to guide actions with respect to human connections. It is by and large thought to be normal in temperament, but examination and synthesis in ethics also may be expressive. There are numerous ethical classifications, such as Judeo-Christian, Objectivist, and moral relativism. These systems are often in disagreement on definite matters, so the choice of ethics is generally entrenched in other perspectives of philosophy, specifically metaphysics, epistemology, and axiology. Based on the additional branches of philosophy, and their interdependent combination, ethical truths may then be derived (Barrett, 2009).
Corporate governance has traditionally specified the rules of business decision making that apply to the internal mechanisms of companies. This set of norms and laws has served to form the relations among boards of directors, shareholders, and managers as well as to resolve agency conflicts. Yet in the aftermath of Enron, corporate governance has emphasized issues that go beyond this traditional focus to touch on corporate ethics, accountability, disclosure, and reporting. As companies seek to assure regulators and investors that they are fully transparent and accountable, corporations have increasingly pledged their commitment to honest and fair corporate governance principles on a wide spectrum of business practices (Gill, 2008).
At the same time, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement has developed the idea of corporate governance as a vehicle for pushing management to think about broader ethical considerations. CSR has drawn on the striking growth made by companies in recent decades in balancing shareholder goals with the need to reduce external things that impact other stakeholders. CSR has unified the political endeavors in order to make corporations more aware of public, environmental, and social needs by practicing corporate governance as a framework for boards and managers to treat employees, consumers, and communities similarly to, if not the same as, stockholders (Gill, 2008).
In view of these processes, large public companies have recently created instruments of corporate governance that seek to produce investor responsibility and stakeholder commitment. Such mechanisms include CSR board committees, company units that deal with business ethics, corporate codes of conduct, non-financial reporting practices, and stakeholder complaint and dialogue channels, among others. All of these governance devices have normally been created on a voluntary basis in order to comprise what is referred to as corporate self-regulation, Institutional investors, regulators, NGOs, and social groups have usually responded by working together with the private sector in order to make self-regulation more enforceable and successful. Pension funds, consumer coalitions, non-profit organizations, and other groups have developed supervision systems that include corporate governance aspects into their CSR guidelines, ratings, and best practices (Gill, 2008).
At the intersection of corporate self-regulation and meta-regulation, experts have recently pointed to a developing interaction between corporate governance and CSR. These explorations can and should be looked at as indicating a meeting between corporate governance and social responsibility. On the one hand, corporate governance is slowly becoming a framework for ensuring the public interest in business as well as forming the procedures by which a company exhibits its good citizenship and commitment to various communities. Alternatively, CSR-driven social coalitions are increasingly focusing on corporate governance as mirroring the company's conscience and long-term commitment to stakeholder accountability (Gill, 2008).
In the public arena of ideas, the term corporate governance has recently been portrayed as the set of procedures, customs, policies, laws and organizations that affect the way in which a corporation is directed, managed or controlled. Yet the substance accredited to this definition has changed quite radically over the past years, shifting from a practical, economic focus on agency problems within a private sphere to a pubic policy approach that looks to protect investors and non-shareholder stakeholders. The development in the awareness of corporate governance reflects the broad changes in the socio-legal view of business corporations today (Gill, 2008).
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