The term ‘Business Ethics’ refers to certain decent standards that guide the business and corporate behaviors to ensure an organization achieves its objectives.
Just as there are standards and guidelines that determine the actions of a person, there are also standards that determine how a business or company should act in society (Grice 2010).
This essay will explore how environmental breaches are an unethical business behavior that affects the investment, workers, society, and environment.
The activities of the business world affect the social, economic and political environment in many ways. Therefore, there is the need for the establishment of a code of conduct for businesses to minimize their negative effects on the environment, workers, business and society.
The simple law of behaving ethically spins around knowing what is right, when to do it and making an informed decision. It is not difficult for people and businesses to identify appropriate and ethical business practices as well as the unethical ones.
Unethical practices limit the performance of a business even though they may seem to have short term benefits (Brownell 2003).
They include bribery, sexual harassment, discrimination, unsafe working environment, deceptive publicity, unfair manipulation, and propaganda and environmental breaches.
Businesses should take care of the environment where they are located in a dignified way to ensure they promote natural resources. In this case, a company or a business should dispose of its waste responsibly to avoid polluting the environment.
Also, it must adhere to a certain set of codes of conduct that are relevant to environmental preservation measures recommended by local authorities.
This is because every line of business or profession must agree to respect the codes of practice that direct the actions and behaviors of such occupations (Rezaee 2009).
Various professionals and critics stress that every investment in the business world has a diverse set of business principles that guide its operations. These codes of ethics that are pertinent to specific industries and professions include executive, legal, medical and social responsibilities.
Critics argue that in modern societies, scopes of ethical behaviors usually occur in all organizations (Grice 2010). There are messages and implications concerning what forms unethical behaviors in society.
Many of these ideas are widely spread in the business world and the people concerned know very well the consequences of breaking them.
For instance, there are messages concerning quick and short cuts to wealth, telling lies to get more profits and ignoring the damaging effects of prohibited or unhealthy business activities.
Critics indicate that the majority of the American business practices have been subjected to several unethical procedures since the cold war started.
The American overseas policy in Eastern states clearly showed issues of unethical business activities that exposed most of them to criticism and collapse.
In the current business world, the guidelines of business ethics continue to diminish because investors and other stakeholders are establishing new ways on advancing their needs through unethical means because companies and industries want to make high profits through dishonest business practices (Brownell 2003).
The main stakeholders in the business include the economy, employees, investors, and the local community. The reputation of the company is the center of all activities that affect its operations regarding unethical practices.
Elements of Business Ethics in America
The moral codes of most investments and organizations in America mainly center on the company or business activities and actions of workers employed in such businesses being representatives of their businesses.
In this case, workers of a business bear the weight of ensuring loyalty to the code of conduct as persons representing the business.
This means that workers of a business must ensure they present the appearance and character of the company to show the public and state that the company respects business, legal and professional codes of conduct.
Therefore, when workers are unethical, then the company is unethical since they reflect the position of the company in national and international scales (Rezaee 2009).
The majority of such ethical procedures take place in different theories of business ethics. These include ecological protection, genuine marketing, and more weight on good leadership and social and financial accountability.
In 2013, Congress enacted the establishment of the Climate Protection Act (CPA: 2013) that specifies several guidelines for ensuring the climate is kept safe from pollution by private and public activities.
It serves to prevent unethical business dealings professed by any American business that will increase carbon emissions to the atmosphere, discharge of poisonous wastes into water bodies and increased dumping of nonbiodegradable wastes.
For instance, the act illegalizes any activity that will emit carbon monoxide in the atmosphere or companies or the use of excess artificial fertilizers in large commercial farms.
Most of these firms have been using excess artificial fertilizer to ensure their products produce high yields (Zeiger 2013). They forget that these profits will benefit them for a short while and damage the entire universe for a long time.
There is a variety of ethical business codes in America generated by the diverse American cultures regarding environmental conservation.
These ethical codes vary according to the business, type of profession involved, products, location and global regulation regarding environmental preservation measures that should be adopted by all nations.
A unique character of the American business ethical setting is the encouragement of individual business codes of ethics to ensure all businesses adhere to the rules set by the American government and international bodies.
In this regard, Americans develop their business code of ethics from a personal view. Some environmental requirements like product description and the environmental hazards associated with them are unique to America while others are available elsewhere but stressed in America (Zeiger 2013).
This means that businesses and companies in America have some unique business ethical standards regarding environmental conservation which might only be found in America.
Also, there are those standards like waste disposal and use of artificial fertilizers that are common all over the world, but American businesses and companies emphasize on their application.
Most companies in the United States dominate in the adoption and application of ethical business policies due to a prolonged period of regulatory changes on the governing of these companies and businesses.
In this regard, there has been almost a decade of reforms in corporate management and governance in the United States about environmental conservation.
Consequently, this has prompted most businesses and companies to advocate and practice environmental protection both nationally and internationally.
In this regard, most companies in the United States follow certain written codes of standards that guide the way business transactions operate in the country to ensure they participate in conserving the environment by reducing pollution and dumping.
In turn, the measures put into reducing pollution have significantly improved the relationship between the United States and the international business community involved in protecting the environment (Grice 2010).
For instance, almost 86% of legitimately registered firms in the United States have printed ethics and codes of conduct that guides their operations.
A major defining element of American business ethics regarding environmental conservation is diversity since the basis and development of America embrace different cultures. Incidentally, most of the American business codes of ethics revolve around respect for diversity in all aspects.
Another major feature of the American business environment is the development and establishment of prescribed ethical standards that guide all businesses.
Such standards provide a platform in which all businesses in America operate to ensure they follow the rules regarding environmental conservation (Grice 2010).
Also, such standards provide the public with a platform to assess and monitor the ethical standing of businesses and identify those that are helping in reducing the causes and impacts of pollution.
This is helpful in that the public will be in a good position to filter those businesses that have environmental conservation practices and embrace those that are responsible players in this field.
Although there is a broad stage of development of business ethics in America, it is still a concern that there is a gap between prescribed business standards and practiced standards.
This means that most environmental conservation measures remain in a paper in America since there are several business scandals involving top-level management as well as other corporate areas in America (Zeiger 2013).
Examples of such scandals include Chevron that released more than 18 billion gallons of contaminated water in Ecuador rain forest, Phillip Morris for producing cigarettes with high nicotine content and Monsanto that has been actively involved in producing artificial crops.
Environmental pollution in America sprouts from people being greedy for money or wanting to gain extra-ordinary profits for personal gains. However, some stem from continual pressure from top-level management of companies even when the junior staff wants to be ethical.
Junior staff will engage in environmental degradation to satisfy the directives of their employers, and due to fears of losing their jobs in case, they refuse to follow the guidelines issued by their employers.
In America, there are challenges in creating a continual safe and healthy business environment. This is because most breaches of environmental conservation policies result from the competition, popular business or company cultures present in America.
One popular corporate culture is management pressure whereby the top management often causes the employees to engage in environmental pollution practices as they pressure them to attain or accomplish certain set goals.
This is because the management is the one that develops business strategies, goals of the business, and the moral stands of operation.
Consequently, this makes it hard for junior employees in companies to operate under environmental conservation codes of conduct even if they want to do so.
Top managers and leaders in America must fight against these unethical businesses behavior (Grice 2010). This will enable these leaders to enforce environmental conservation standards in their areas of operation consequently transforming corporate America.
They should enforce ethical standards through the development of a severe formula for those who engage in environmental pollution.
Despite this effort, top managers and leaders should lead by example in developing and implementing measures that will ensure they conserve their environment.
Most big companies and businesses in America thrill and develop at the expense of the losses and risks the public experiences. Some of these businesses discharge toxic waste in the environment, which possesses serious public health concerns.
These occur because of various reasons including financial problems, corrupt administration, diverse policies as well as failure in enforcement of environmental protection regulations (Rezaee 2009).
Some of these companies also engage in unhealthy practices that expose human beings and the environment to risks and undermine the freedom and rights of individuals.
For example, the British Petroleum oil spills in the Gulf Coast led to the death of 11 people and many aquatic living things and also destroyed the tourism and fishing businesses.
One major important aims of ethical business practices are ensuring the protection of the environment as well as reducing the degradation of the same.
Companies and businesses should develop operation standards that conserve the environment and prevent it from damage for the benefit of society (Larimore 2013).
Unfortunately, most companies and commercial agricultural firms in the United States that engage in production do not have these set standards for mitigating environmental damage.
Studies indicate that only 16% of U.S.-based companies that engage in production have developed procedures for mitigating the effects of business activities on global warming and other environmental issues.
The business and corporate world in America have a golden opportunity of show-casing its environmental protection awareness practices to the public. However, most of them concentrate on the issue of profits and overlook corporate social responsibility.
In this regard, if any activity or decision interferes with profit making in corporate America, this becomes an issue of secondary importance to these companies; therefore, they do not treat it with a lot of caution (Brownell 2003).
If a company aspires to improve its brand image and make it appealing to the public, it must train and strongly encourage its employees to adhere to ethical standards.
It is evident that most businesses in America were liable for upholding huge companies and investors and repressing democracy during the Cold War. This led to a high level of unethical business practices that partly led to the economic recession like the one witnessed in 2008.
After the cold war, most companies and businesses in the U. S. started producing goods in large quantities and engaged in other unlawful business practices that eroded the stance of business ethics in corporate America.
In this regard, there are instances where environmental conservationists were bribed by greedy CEOs at the expense of the safety of the environment and millions of consumers in need.
Another area of business ethics that has not been following environmental conservation guidelines in America is energy and water consumption. Most firms and businesses have not disclosed their consumption of energy and water in the United States.
Very few industries, companies, and businesses have developed a process of measuring and reporting on energy consumption in their numerous business activities.
Although there is a waste reduction policy in the United States to ensure they conserve the environment, most companies do not document and report the waste they produce and where they dispose of them.
This implies that they are not accountable for their actions to the society, which constitutes to unethical business behaviors. Currently, only 10% of companies in the U. S. report on waste production, water consumption and treatment and disposal of wastes.
Another main feature of business ethics in corporate America is the state of reporting environmental degradation behaviors by companies and businesses (Zeiger 2013).
Most workers in companies where there are unethical practices fail to report cases where the company fails to meet chemical compositions of wastes before they are discharged because they fear reprisal by the executive and losing their jobs.
Some of them even fail to report pollution which directly affects their lives, families, health and fundamental rights. This remains a serious problem in America because it affects society even though many of these practices go unpunished or without notice.
Big investments in America have the chance of developing environmental sustainability, evaluation, and report. Such a report should capture the dynamics of procedures, processes, and behaviors undertaken by a company during its activities.
The report should include issues of public importance such as business social responsibility, the effect of a firm’s activities on the environment, impact on wellbeing and compliance on the environmental protection awareness set standards (Brownell 2003).
The main purpose of this report is to produce indicators of sustainable business progress. The main question directing such reports is whether the business engages in sustainable progress.
The procedure of creating periodic sustainability reports varies from one company to the other because of the size of the business.
In practice, companies, where ethical policy and standards are a priority, produce far much better results that companies which care less on business ethics. There are businesses which primarily focus on making profits and growing the business and ignore environmental conservation measures.
What such companies forget is that making money and positive growth of the business is a product of good ethical behaviors and practices. Critics assert that the U.S. government has developed strict measures concerning unethical business practices.
The government imposes heavy fines on a business that pollutes the environment directly or indirectly.
Also, the media has also helped in promoting environmental conservation by broadcasting companies that engage in polluting the environment and those that use environmentally friendly technologies.
This can either make or break the reputation of a company and increase or decrease its sales and profits.
It is true that it does not profit the country or individual when businesses gain a lot of profits at the expense of environmental pollution. On the contrary, this unethical business activity harms society and affects public policies on environmental conservation (Brownell 2003).
Even though, some investors argue that these companies create a lot of jobs such practices help to develop the level managers of such businesses and make the local economy susceptible to risks.
There is a healthy alliance between a corporation’s ethics package and its objectives; this means that companies that give ethical principles precedence in their activities perform better than those that overlook this issue.
Research conducted on this issue indicates that businesses with decent behaviors have encouraged their staffs to deliver good results.
Critics claim that companies that regularly break the law due to unethical practices like environmental pollution often engage in costly legal proceedings that lead to losses instead of gains.
Additionally, top-level managers of these businesses run the risk of facing scandalous charges and detentions.
Costs of Unethical Business Behaviors
A major evil associated with environmental pollution is corruption and bribery even though their means of facilitation may vary from one country to another and from one community to another.
For example, it was not strange for companies that polluted the environment to bribe environmental conservation officers to get away with their unscrupulous business activities. This ensured the investors remained in business even though they continued to pollute the environment.
Loss of Respect
Secondly, respect is very important in all public and personal activities since it determines how an individual will relate to others. An investment that engages in environmental pollution will attract a lot of criticism from the media, society and also its workers.
When the environment is polluted this does not only affect the society or other people not associated with the company, but also workers, investors, and managers of the company are also affected.
This means that when workers are not able to control the environmental damages of their production processes, they lose respect for their employers. Also, the reputation of their company is pout at stake as the public distances itself from its activities.
A good example is the Coca Cola branch located in East Asia which uses millions of drinking water every day to produce its drinks, yet the residents lack drinking water (Rezaee 2009).
This means that they will not respect this company since it violates their right to access clean drinking water and replaces it with its focus to make profits.
Environmental conservation is an important aspect to investors since they keep an eye on the ethical behavior of a business through its corporate social responsibilities.
It is unusual for an industry to hide the companies’ involvement in communal activities like tree planting and cleaning of streets (Brownell 2003).
The investors are very much interested in the activities of a business to keep the environment clean through reducing pollution and promoting environmental conservation initiatives even though most customers are unaware of ethical, environmental practices in businesses.
In recent times, cases of the unethical corporate practices have been on the rise because businesses report non existing corporate responsibilities to raise their company’s involvement in community development.
Lack of Honesty
Lack of honesty is another harmful consequence of unethical business practices since it is an essential aspect of any industry whether in financial recording or advertising.
For instance, it is wrong to state that a company is conserving the environment through recycling by dumping poisonous waste and harmful materials in other areas.
Also, it is significant to note that there is integration between personal and work life in terms of ethical behaviors. For instance, we do not show responsible behaviors at homes; it will be extremely difficult to observe the same in places of work.
Poor Performance of Employee
Another main harmful impact of unethical business practices is poor morale and performance by workers. Most workers in businesses and companies involved in unethical business behaviors like pollution lack the incentive to perform according to the expectations of their employers.
In other cases, such workers may fail to notice the required procedures and legal practices as they focus on making money and advancing in the executive ladder without addressing issues of environmental pollution (Rezaee 2009).
Consequently, this has harmful effects in society since there may be other unethical practices like the production of substandard or illegal goods and inflated prices.
Clients and investors do not trust corrupt businesses despite the justifications for involvement in these unscrupulous activities since such businesses do not operate under the understanding of the public interest or the safety of the society.
Executives of companies are very important people to the society since they present the image of the companies and any dealings are done by them is assumed to be on behalf of the company (Zeiger 2013).
They need to be respected by the society to promote the images of their companies and promote its name. This becomes a good way of competing with others and standing high chances of winning public trust.
Environmental pollution makes companies and individuals misuse natural resources like water, land, and air. The shareholders pay for the losses incurred after a business collapses due to excess pollution that renders its activities unprofitable.
Also, governments can close companies if they fail to observe environmental regulations and consumers may decide to ignore the services or goods produced by irresponsible companies (Larimore 2013).
A good example is a hostile reception Monsanto is receiving from its clients when the media exposed how this company tortures animals and uses excess artificial fertilizer in producing its products.
Every business has a corporate social responsibility in the local community which entails generous work, effective stakeholder relations, and sustainable ecological management and conservation.
If a company violates its corporate social roles, this decreases the loyalty of its customers to its services. As a result, this can force them to turn to their competitors and thus exposing the company to financial risks that may lead to its collapse.
For a business or company to thrive in this competitive age, earning a great deal of communal support and long term admiration are of great importance. The absence of these two in the business world means that there is a huge impact on society and the business world.
When businesses and large companies engage in environmental pollution or inflate prices of goods, this affects the international market and reduces public confidence for such companies (Rezaee 2009).
In some cases, businesses fail to control their representatives from participating in some unethical business practices, and this erodes the public confidence in the company and also the reputation of the host country.
The public is usually watching what companies do as part of their efforts to conserve the environment. Also, workers are sometimes forced to participate in wrong activities that endanger the environment.
However, they hardly protest since they want to keep their jobs and reputations (Larimore 2013). When this goes on for a while, some workers may feel desperate and offer this information to relevant authorities in efforts to conserve their environment.
This makes such companies to be fined heavily or even termination of their operations. These decisions may lead to reduced salaries or job losses respectively as the company tries to come to terms with the steps taken by the government to control pollution.
The American government is developing and enforcing rules and regulations on all businesses to cut the adverse effects of environmental pollution. These regulations may be strict and hard to adhere to like the establishment of the Climate Protection Act (CPA: 2013) to regulate accounting practices.
After its enactment, CPA enforced stringent environmental standards on all manufacturing companies as well as other public companies having departments of production (Rezaee 2009).
The achievements of this act are evident in the steps taken to conserve the environment and reduced cases of pollution.
Controlling Environmental Pollution
It is important to understand that the environment offers various opportunities for all stakeholders in society; therefore, it must be conserved and protected at all costs.
This means that everybody requires the environment to conduct various activities and since it has no alternative I must be guarded jealously (Rezaee 2009).
The first step in conserving the environment is to create awareness among manufacturers regarding the importance of these measures.
This will enable them to realize the need to conserve the environment and establish measures to ensure the company does not engage in any activity that will pollute the environment.
Secondly, there must be strict penalties for companies and investors that endanger the lives of other people through pollution (Larimore 2013).
There should be no compromise when a company is involved in pollution, and this case should culminate in the termination of the operations of that company or heavy fines.
This will be a good way of ensuring other companies are careful in disposing their wastes and using various ways of manufacturing their products.
Also, all manufacturing companies must be forced to participate in corporate social responsibilities to ensure they are actively involved in conserving the environment.
It will be very difficult for companies to participate in tree planting and street cleaning and at the same time pollute the environment through poor waste disposal methods (Grice 2010).
These responsibilities make sure a company matches its social objectives with production processes; therefore, making it difficult for it to pollute the environment.
Businesses must ensure they observe their codes of conduct by participating in ethical business activities.
They must not focus their attention on generating profits and forget the need to keep their environment safe and clean since this will be a serious threat to human life and the success of their activities.
Governments and investors should ensure businesses use environmentally friendly technologies, materials, and processes ion their production to reduce pollution.
There should be campaigns to create environmental awareness to these companies and the public and any business that violates the rules established to conserve the environment should be punished.
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Larimore, C. (2013). Ethics in Corporate America. Web.
Rezaee, S. (2009). Should American business ethics change when dealing at the global level? Web.
Zeiger, S. (2013). Effects of a Lack of Ethics on a Business Environment. Web.