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1. Lead-in

  1. In your  opinion, what are business ethics?
  2. Have you ever been in a difficult situation which involved taking a decision that you were not sure was ethical?
  3. Is there any point in having an ethics officer in a company?

Speaking activity

Business ethics are concerned with issues of morality in commercial decision making. Ethical questions include the relationship between business and the environment, between companies and their employees, product types, quality, pricing and many other aspects of business.

Together with a colleague, categorize the following commercial practices using a scale from 1 to 5:

1=acceptable in some circumstances

2=usually acceptable

3=depends on situation

4=usually unacceptable

5=always unacceptable

Work in pairs. Do not forget to give reasons for your choices. Feel free to disagree with your partner but you will finally have to reach an agreement and offer feedback on the opinions expressed.

* manufacturing and selling cosmetics tested on animals

* making employees redundant without any warning

* headhunting key people from rival companies

* hacking into other companies’ computer systems to get important market information

* employing young, single school leavers because they are cheap

* making false claims of selling environmentally-friendly products when, in fact, they are 

harmful for the environment

* employing illegal immigrants as cheap labour and depriving them of their legal rights

* doing business with companies which exploit children

* exaggerating your company’s achievements in negotiations

* dropping your prices to force competitors out of the market.

2. English in use

2.1. You are going to read a text about business ethics. For each blank think of ONE word that can best fit in the context.

e.g. 0 – what

Let's Start With 'What is ethics?'

Simply put, ethics involves learning 0… is right or wrong, and then doing the right thing -- but 'the right thing' is not nearly 1… straightforward as conveyed in a great deal of business ethics literature. Most ethical dilemmas in the workplace are not simply a 2… of 'Should Bob steal from Jack?' or 'Should Jack lie to his boss?'

(Many ethicists assert there's always a right thing to 3… based on moral principle, and others believe the right thing to do depends on the situation -- ultimately it's 4… to the individual.) Many philosophers 5… ethics to be the 'science of conduct.' Twin Cities consultants Doug Wallace and John Pekel explain that ethics includes the fundamental ground 6… by which we live our lives. Philosophers have been discussing ethics for at 7… 2500 years, since the time of Socrates and Plato. Many ethicists consider emerging ethical beliefs to be 'state of the art' legal matters, i.e., what becomes an ethical guideline today is often translated to a law, regulation or rule 8…. Values which guide how we ought to behave are considered moral values, e.g., values such as respect, honesty, fairness, responsibility, etc. Statements around how these values are applied are sometimes called moral or ethical principles.

So What is 'Business Ethics'?

The concept has come to mean various things to various people, but generally it's coming to know what is right or wrong in the workplace and doing what's right -- this is in regard 9… effects of products/services and in relationships with stakeholders. Wallace and Pekel explain that attention to business ethics is critical during times of fundamental change -- times much 10… those faced now by businesses, 11… nonprofit and for-profit. In times of fundamental change, values that were previously 12… for granted are now strongly questioned. Many of these values are no longer followed. Consequently, there is no clear moral compass to guide leaders through complex dilemmas about what is right or wrong. Attention to ethics in the workplace sensitizes leaders and staff to how they 13… act. Perhaps most important, attention to ethics in the workplaces helps ensure that when leaders and managers are struggling in times of crises and confusion, 14… retain a strong moral compass. However, attention to business ethics provides numerous other benefits, as well. Note that many people react that business ethics, with its continuing attention to 'doing the right thing,' only asserts the obvious ('be good,' 'don't lie,' etc.), and so these people don't take business ethics 15…. For many of us, these principles of the obvious can go right out the door during times of stress. Consequently, business ethics can be strong preventative medicine.

(adapted and abridged from

2.2. Read the second part of the article about business ethics and fill in the gaps with the words in the box. There is one word that you do not need:

daily, mismanagement, misunderstanding, remedies, practices, preaching

Two Broad Areas of Business Ethics

1. Managerial mischief. Madsen and Shafritz, in their book 'Essentials of Business Ethics' (Penguin Books, 1990) further explain that 'managerial mischief' includes 'illegal, unethical, or questionable 1… of individual managers or organizations, as well as the causes of such behaviors and 2… to eradicate them.' There has been a great deal written about managerial mischief, leading many to believe that business ethics is merely a matter of 3… the basics of what is right and wrong. More often, though, business ethics is a matter of dealing with dilemmas that have no clear indication of what is right or wrong.

2. Moral mazes. The other broad area of business ethics is 'moral mazes of management' and includes the numerous ethical problems that managers must deal with on a 4… basis, such as potential conflicts of interest, wrongful use of resources, 5… of contracts and agreements, etc.

(adapted and abridged from

2.3. Read the last part of the text and use the following words to form a word that fits in the same numbered space in the text.









Business ethics is now a management discipline. Business ethics has come to be considered a management discipline, 1… since the birth of the social responsibility movement in the 1960s. In that decade, social awareness movements raised 2… of businesses to use their massive financial and social influence to address social problems such as 3…, crime, environmental protection, equal rights, public health and improving education. An increasing number of people asserted that because businesses were making a profit from using our country's resources, these businesses owed it to our country to work to improve society. Many 4…, business schools and managers have recognized this broader constituency, and in their planning and operations have replaced the word 'stockholder' with 'stakeholder,' meaning to include employees, customers, 5 and the wider community

The 6 of business ethics is similar to other management disciplines. For example, organizations realized that they needed to manage a more positive image to the public and so the recent discipline of public relations was born. 7 realized they needed to better manage their human resources and so the recent discipline of human resources was born. As commerce became more complicated and dynamic, organizations realized they needed more 8 to ensure their dealings supported the common good and did not harm others -- and so business ethics was born.

Note that 90% of business schools now provide some form of training in business ethics. Today, ethics in the workplace can be managed through use of codes of ethics, codes of conduct, roles of ethicists and ethics committees, policies and procedures, procedures to resolve ethical dilemmas, ethics training, etc.

(adapted and abridged from


Consider the following questions and discuss possible answers in small groups:

What issues are involved in ethical considerations­?

Why do companies have to take an ethical position?

Do you think that as societies become richer, consumers become more critical and more likely to adopt ethical standpoints­?

Extended discussion

Defend or attack the following statements. Start by giving some answers to the first question.

Does anything go in business?

Modern business cannot afford to ignore the ethics.

Ethics are all hypocrisy.

Business ethics exist in a utopic society but could never be part of today’s hectic business world.

Companies have a responsibility to give a good example.

4. English in use

In the following article some of the underlined parts are correct; some have a mistake in them (a grammar mistake, a vocabulary mistake, a spelling mistake, a missing word, an unnecessary word, and inappropriateness in the context). If the part is correct, write CORRECT in its corresponding numbered space; if the part is incorrect, write the correct version in its corresponding numbered space:

9 Myths About Business Ethics

(1) Business ethics in the workplace are about prioritizing moral values for the workplace and ensuring behaviors are aligned with those values -- it's values management. Yet, myths abound about business ethics. Some of these myths arise from general confusion about the notion of ethics. Other myths (2) arise from narrow or simplistic views of ethical dilemmas.

1. Myth: Business ethics is more a matter of religion than management. Diane Kirrane, in 'Managing Values: A Systematic Approach to Business Ethics,' (Training and Development Journal, November 1990), (3) asserts that 'altering peoples’ values or souls isn't the aim of an organizational ethics program -- managing values and conflict among them is '

2. Myth: Our employees are ethical so we don't need attention to business ethics. Most of the ethical dilemmas faced by managers in the workplace are highly complex. Wallace explains that one knows when they have a significant ethical conflict when there is presence of a) significant value conflicts among differing (4) interests, b) real alternatives that are equality justifiable and c) significant consequences on 'stakeholders' in the situation. Kirrane mentions that when the topic of business ethics comes up, people are quick to speak of the Golden Rule, honesty and courtesy. (5) But when presented with complex ethical dilemmas, most people realize there's a wide 'gray area' when trying to apply ethical principles.

3. Myth: Business ethics is a discipline best led by philosophers, academics and theologians. Lack of involvement of leaders and managers in business ethics literature and discussions has led many to believe that business ethics is a fad or movement, having little to do with the day-to-day realities of running an organization. They believe (6) business ethics is primary a complex philosophical debate or a religion. However, business ethics is a management discipline with a programmatic approach that includes several practical tools. Ethics management programs have practical applications in other areas of management areas, as well.

4. Myth: Business ethics is superfluous -- it only asserts the obvious: 'do good!' Many people react that codes of ethics, or lists of ethical values to which the organization aspires, are rather superfluous because they represent values to which everyone should naturally aspire. However, the value of a code of ethics to an organization is its priority and focus regarding certain ethical values in that workplace. For example, it’s obvious that all people should be honest. However, if an organization (8) is struggling around continuing occasions of deceit in the workplace, a priority on honesty is very timely -- and honesty should be listed in that organization’s code of ethics. Note that a code of ethics is an organic instrument that changes with the needs of society and the organization.

5. Myth: Business ethics is a matter of the good guys preaching to the bad guys. Some writers do seem to claim a moral high ground (9) while lamenting about the poor condition of business and its leaders. However, those people well versed in managing organizations realize that good people can take bad actions, particularly when stressed or confused. (Stress or confusion are not excuses for unethical actions -- they are reasons.) Managing ethics in the workplace includes all of us working together to help each other remain ethical and to work through confusing and stressful ethical dilemmas.

6. Myth: Ethics can't be managed. Actually, ethics is always 'managed' -- but, too often, indirectly. For example, (10) the behavior of the organizations’ founder or current leader is a strong moral influence, or directive if you will, on behavior or employees in the workplace. Strategic priorities (profit maximization, expanding marketshare, cutting costs, etc.) can be very strong influences on morality. Laws, regulations and rules directly influence behaviors to be more ethical, usually in a manner that improves the general good and/or minimizes harm to the community. Some are still skeptical about business ethics, believing you can't manage values in an organization. Donaldson and Davis (Management Decision, V28, N6) (11) note that management, after everything, is a value system. Skeptics might consider the tremendous influence of several 'codes of ethics,' such as the '10 Commandments' in Christian religions or the U.S. Constitution. Codes can be very powerful in smaller 'organizations' as well.

7. Myth: Business ethics and social responsibility are the same thing. The social responsibility movement is one aspect of the overall discipline of business ethics. Madsen and Shafritz (12) refine the definition of business ethics to be: 1) an application of ethics to the corporate community, 2) a way to determine responsibility in business dealings, 3) the identification of important business and social issues, and 4) a critique of business. (13) Items 3 and 4 are often matters of social responsability. (There has been a great deal of public discussion and writing about items 3 and 4. However, there needs to be more written about items 1 and 2, about how business ethics can be managed.) Writings about social responsibility often do not address practical matters of managing ethics in the workplace, e.g., developing codes, updating polices and procedures, approaches to resolving ethical dilemmas, etc.

8. Myth: Our organization is not in trouble with the law, so we're ethical. One can often be unethical, yet operate within the limits of the law, e.g., withhold information from superiors, fudge on budgets, constantly complain about others, etc. However, breaking the law often starts with unethical behavior that has gone unnoticed. The 'boil the frog' phenomena is a useful parable here: If you put a frog in hot water, it immediately jumps out. If you put a frog in cool water and slowly heat up the water, you can eventually boil the frog. The frog doesn't seem to notice the adverse change in its environment.

9. Myth: Managing ethics in the workplace has little practical relevance. Managing ethics in the workplace involves identifying and prioritizing values to guide behaviors in the organization, (15) and establishing associated policies and procedures to ensure those behaviors are conducted. One might call this 'values management.' Values management is also highly important in other management practices, e.g., managing diversity, Total Quality Management and strategic planning.

(adapted and abridged from

5. Discussion point

Take a look at the following real-to-life examples of complex ethical dilemmas and decide what you would do in each situation.

'A customer (or client) asked for a product (or service) from us today. After telling him our price, he said he couldn't afford it. I know he could get it cheaper from a competitor. Should I tell him about the competitor -- or let him go without getting what he needs? What should I do?'

'Our company prides itself on hiring minorities. One Asian candidate fully fits the job requirements for our open position. However, we're concerned that our customers won't understand his limited command of the English language. What should I do?'

'My top software designer suddenly refused to use our e-mail system. He explained to me that, as a Christian, he could not use a product built by a company that provided benefits to the partners of homosexual employees. He'd basically cut himself off from our team, creating a major obstacle to our product development. What should I do?'

'My boss told me that one of my employees is among several others to be laid off soon, and that I'm not to tell my employee yet or he might tell the whole organization which would soon be in an uproar. Meanwhile, I heard from my employee that he plans to buy braces for his daughter and a new carpet for his house. What should I do?'

'My computer operator told me he'd noticed several personal letters printed from a computer that I was responsible to manage. While we had no specific policies then against personal use of company facilities, I was concerned. I approached the letter writer to discuss the situation. She told me she'd written the letters on her own time to practice using our word processor. What should I do?'

'A fellow employee told me that he plans to quit the company in two months and start a new job which has been guaranteed to him. Meanwhile, my boss told me that he wasn't going to give me a new opportunity in our company because he was going to give it to my fellow employee now. What should I do?'

(adapted and abridged from

6. English in use

Read the following article about codes of ethics. In some of the lines there is an extra word which is either grammatically incorrect or does not fit with the meaning of the text. If a line is correct, write CORRECT against the corresponding number; if there is an extra word in the line, write the extra word in capital letters against the corresponding number:

Ethics Tools: Codes of Ethics

1…According to Wallace, 'A credo generally describes the highest values to which the same

2…company aspires to operate. It contains the `thou shalt's. A code of ethics specifies the

3…ethical rules of operation. It's the `thou shalt not's.' In the latter of 1980s, The Conference

4…Board, a leading business membership organization, found that 76% of its corporations surveyed had codes of ethics.

5…Some business ethicists also disagree that codes have any value. They explain that too

6…much focus is put on the codes themselves, and that codes themselves are not 7…influential in managing ethics in the workplace. Then many ethicists note that it's the 8…developing and continuing dialogue around the code's values that is most important.

9…Occasionally, employees react to codes with suspicion, believing in the values are 10…'motherhood and apple pie' and codes are for the window dressing. But, when managing

11…a complex issue, especially in a crisis, having a code is critical. More important, it's 12…having developed a code. In the mid-70s, Johnson and Johnson updated their credo in a

13…series of challenge meetings. Bob Kniffin, Vice President of External Affairs, he 14…explains, 'We pored over each phrase and word. However we asked ourselves, `Do we

15…still believe this?' Our meetings have resulted in some fine tuning, but basically we didn't

16…change the values. The meetings infused the values in the minds of all of us managers.'

(adapted and abridged from


ETHICAL MARKETING is providing a product or service in a way which considers not only the consumers and the users of the product, but also the general public, the wider needs of society and the environment.

Pair work

By talking to each other, try to decide on a reasonable ethical position on the issues below. Are there any particular conditions that we should take into consideration when choosing which of them are acceptable or unacceptable?

Ø      Selling unhealthy food despite warnings

Ø      Marketing sweets and junk food snacks to small children

Ø      Marketing cigarettes

Ø      Selling expensive clothing items in poor countries

Ø      Using overtly sexual images to sell products

Ø      Focusing too much on anorexic looking body shape when marketing products for teenagers

Ø      Selling environmentally unfriendly products AND at the same time claiming they do little harm to our environment.

8. Reading comprehension

Read the following article. Some sentences have been removed from the text. Choose from sentences A- J the one which fits each gap (1-9). There is one sentence which you do not need to use.

Ethical Decision-making Quick Test

by Bruce A. Hamm

Often, making ethical decisions in the work place is a delicate balancing act between competing forces. Easy decisions like 'should I embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars' are obvious and generally do not require much help or analysis to determine whether they are ethical or not. 1Having a quick test allows you to make the easy decisions and recognize when the decision may be a bit more difficult. If at any point, you cannot legitimately answer the question, you might consider asking someone else for help. 2 Remember, generally the decisions are yours and you have to live with the results, so be prepared to accept responsibility for them.

Is it legal?

This is the first filter through which your ethical decision will pass. 3 A business law professor in an MBA course once stated that the law is generally about 12 years behind society's concept of ethical practices. Don't simply stop your ethical decision making process at whether an action is legal. It may not be against the law but it may also not be the right thing to do. If the answer is no or raises objections, you must stop, reject the action and take another course 4

How would it look in the news?

Okay, you've determined that your action is legal. Now, how would it look to the rest of your community, the nation and ever more frequently, the world? It's one thing for you or even your close associates to know about your decisions and actions but entirely another when people outside your inner circle know about them. 5 Would you be embarrassed to have these events known? How would your company perceive publicity surrounding your actions? If the answer is unacceptable, stop, reject the action and take another course. If the answer is acceptable, go on to the next criteria.

Does it comply with our company values?

What are your company values? Okay, let's first assume your company values are legitimate ones. Do your actions conform to them? For example: if your values say something about treating employees fairly, do you have a legitimate process for applying discipline and/or discharge? Do managers fire people in the heat of an emotional upheaval or is there an appropriate escalation of discipline before the company allows such a step? 6  If your action conforms to your corporate values, move on to the next criteria.

Under the same circumstances, would I want the result of this decision to happen to everyone? Am I treating others as I want to be treated?

How do you want to be treated? If you've made a mistake do you take responsibility for it? Have you accepted appropriate discipline with an attitude conducive to correcting the behaviour? 7 If you've done something well, do you expect an appropriate reward, even if it is only verbal? Do you give that same level of reward to your staff or co-workers? For decisions concerning others, is the result of the action fair? Does the person affected get only the appropriate degree of reward or discipline? Would others agree with your perception of the outcome? If no, stop, reject the action and take another course. If yes, move on to the next criteria.

How will I feel after the decision is known? Can I face myself the next morning?

This is the man in the mirror story (updated to include the woman in the mirror). 8 How do you feel about the decision? Even if it is a tough decision and the outcome would affect someone negatively, have you acted out of the overall best interest of everyone concerned? If the answer is no, stop, reject the action and find another course. If yes, take the action with good confidence you've resolved your dilemma.

Often with subsequent information we regret our actions but we also realize that we make decisions with the information available at the time. If the decision does not need to be made immediately, have you given your proposed action enough reflection to feel confident about its outcome?

This process may seem long and involved. 9 Every time you discard a particular option run the next alternative through this same practice. Taking the time to review decisions with an ethical perspective is critical to making the right choices. When a company's people focus on their ethical behaviour, everyone involved is better off.

(adapted and abridged from

A. If it is legal, go on to the next criteria.

B. If your ethical dilemma is obviously at odds with your company values, stop, reject the action and take another course.

C. When you shave or apply your makeup and you think of the action you will take, can you look yourself in the mirror and know you are satisfied you've done the right thing?

D. It's a bit tougher when the decision is between two competing right things to do.

E. In general, they may even share part of the responsibility.

F. However, the more you use it, the more quickly you can work through the decision review process on subsequent occasions.

G. The word discipline has its origins in the Greek word meaning to teach not to punish.

H. Talk to your supervisor or, if you are lucky enough to have an ethics officer or ethics helpline, talk to whoever can help you make the final decision.

I. How will the people you don't know perceive your actions?

J. Legal and ethical are not equivalent concepts.

9. Writing

Pick one of the dilemmas from exercise 5 and describe the decision you would take giving arguments for your decision. (200 words)

Politica de confidentialitate



Vizualizari: 1969
Importanta: rank

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