Business ethics refers to corporate beliefs, ideals, and standards that might come from employees, corporate policies, or the legal system and are intended to govern individual and group behavior in the workplace. There are several arguments why corporate ethics is a component essential in every company. Business ethics enables managers to detect ethical concerns when they emerge and the options available for addressing them. Managers may also learn about the responsible decision-making approach and how to maintain ethical conduct in the workplace. There is also the chance to learn how to deal with disputes between one’s own moral beliefs and those of the company for which one works. However, business ethics involve a lot of intricacies and issues, and sometimes it involves making difficult choices.
Recognition of Ethical Issues
Recognizing ethical issues is often challenging since a lot of problems are not apparent. A lot of ethical problems are frequently hidden by technical difficulties, which are the primary factor. Nevertheless, there are several foundational values that help identify ethical issues. Integrity is the first value that helps identify such problems (Kitson & Campbell, 2017). With the help of integrity, one can be objective and assess the situation properly without bias (Kitson & Campbell, 2017). Moreover, integrity within a professional framework means that an individual will adhere to moral principles. Another practical value is honesty which also involves sincerity. This means that the person will remain truthful and abstain from the deception of others. The last value is fairness, the ability to be just with matters of the professional field.
Corporate Intelligence and Ethics
Competitive intelligence, also known as corporate intelligence, is the capability to obtain, evaluate, and apply data on rivals, consumers, and other market elements that contribute to a company’s competitive edge. Such kind of ability is significant since it assists firms in understanding their competitive situation, as well as the possibilities and difficulties that it brings (Cavallo et al., 2020). Companies use data to develop effective business strategies and various unprecedented products.
Though most businesses can obtain a lot of details about their rivals on the internet, competitor analysis involves more complex approaches than finding well-known bits of information. Conventional competitive intelligence research involves information acquired from a variety of sources, such as the press, consumer and rival interviews, industry analysts, professional events and conferences, official statistics, and public reports (Cavallo et al., 2020). However, these freely available resources are only the beginning. Analyzing a firm’s shareholders, major distributors, suppliers, consumers, and rivals, is also part of such investigation.
From this description, it can be said that corporate intelligence is not an illegal activity. However, there are situations when competitive intelligence crosses the line. Such situations usually involve espionage, meaning firms commit unlawful acts to gather data (Cavallo et al., 2020). An example can be illegally entering the competitor’s property or accessing the documents or files without the firm’s permission. Additionally, many organizations might contact the employees of the competitor company and ask them to provide the needed information and secrets. Corporate intelligence is unethical in all of these situations since it involves illegal practices without the competitor’s awareness.
Workplace bullying entails persistent abuse and conflict, meaning it is not restricted to several incidents. Additionally, there is a sense of being imprisoned and powerless in the circumstance. Bullying in the workplace affects around 11% of employees, according to the data from 12 researchers (Sansone & Sansone, 2015). Bullying at a mature age, like bullying in youth, has a range of detrimental implications, impacting the psychological and economic aspects of both employees and companies.
Multiple researchers have found that workplace bullying can result in higher anxiety and mental suffering, even after years of such damaging experiences. Sleep problems, despair and stress, exhaustion in women and lack of energy in males, significant depression, attitude, fear, and adjustment disorders, and even suicide have all been reported by researchers (Sansone & Sansone, 2015). As a result of the previous emotional issues, studies have found higher use of drugs and higher usage of other substances among the victims (Sansone & Sansone, 2015). Workplace bullying appears to have economic implications in addition to mental effects (Sansone & Sansone, 2015). This would include increased absenteeism owing to sick days, a higher risk of prolonged absence due to sick leave, and higher unemployment rates due to job termination or voluntary resignation.
The laws against workplace bullying are not always feasible for several reasons. First, the laws against workplace bullying can be effective when physical damage is involved (Sansone & Sansone, 2015). Additionally, the victim will be protected if they are a representative of a minority group (Sansone & Sansone, 2015). Otherwise, if a victim does not meet the set requirements, certain difficulties will arise. For example, the victim will have to prove that the bullying indeed took place. Without evidence, the possibility of victim protection will be minimal. Moreover, there can be a chance of the abuser being supported.
The presence of nepotism and favoritism in the workplace is always a rather unpleasant display of poor corporate ethics and unhealthy workplace dynamics, in the case under analysis. Deon has clearly violated ethical principles and corporate standards by allowing his brother-in-law to select the most lucrative clients. Furthermore, given the rigid ethical standards established in the organization, Layla is facing the dilemma of either talking to Deon directly, with the understandably low likelihood of success and disclosing the issue to Mia and losing the job.
Thus, the case represents a choice between the well-being of others, namely, the issue of restoring justice in the workplace by exposing Deon and the employment opportunity for Layla. Applying the principles of Deontology, or Kantian ethics, one may suggest that Layla should disclose the truth to a third party (Kenny & Fotaki, 2021). Therefore, further investigation can be launched to prove that Deon has been violating the company’s policies and punish him for his actions accordingly. Furthermore, legally, the fact that Layla seeks to restore justice in the company will serve as the extenuating circumstances that could lead to her retaining her position in the company.
Resolving Ethical Business Challenges
In the case under analysis, Bill is admittedly wrong; more importantly, his actions can be classified not only as a breach of the ethical code but also as a violation of legal regulations, particularly copyright law (Ferrell et al., 2021). Therefore, the case under analysis must be regarded as a problem that concerns both ethical and legal standards. Ethically, Bill breaks the established standards based on nearly any ethical perspective. For instance, in the deontological context, Bill’s actions and perspective are inherently wrong since they negate foundational ethical values. Similarly, the Utilitarianism approach, which suggests that actions must be judged based on their outcomes, also allows condemning Bill’s decision due to the detrimental effects that the breach of copyright has on owners, users, and the community at large (Ferrell et al., 2021). Therefore, ethically, Bill’s actions are completely misinformed and wrong.
The legal perspective also allows condemning Bill’s decision regarding the use of the pirated property. Specifically, there are established legal standards that prohibit the misuse of intellectual property and the violation of the established copyright standards (Ferrell et al., 2021). Bill downloading music for free already provides substantial reasons for making a legal claim against him; however, Bill’s giving the downloaded material to others aggravates his crime (Ferrell et al., 2021). Therefore, Bill’s choice of abusing the standards of copyright and breaking the established rules implies that he abuses both ethical and legal principles.
Coca-Cola and POM Wonder
Representing a rather convoluted case of false advertising, the legal process involving Coca-Cola and POM Wonder offers an insight into the complicated nature of the legal aspects of marketing. With both companies accusing each other of misrepresenting their product and intentionally attempting to trick customers into buying it despite their failure to meet the set expectations, the companies could be seen as equally deceptive. However, further assessment of the two cases indicates that there are several crucial nuances to be taken into account.
Though both Coca-Cola’s advertisement and that POM Wonder are equally deceptive, they represent different levels of deceit. Namely, unlike POM Wonder, Coca-Cola used straightforward false advertising by labeling its juice as a pomegranate one. In turn, POM Wonder did provide the expected percentage of pomegranate in its product. However, POM has also been guilty of misleading its customers, particularly by claiming that its product could help treat certain health issues, such as heart disease (Ferrell et al., 2021). Therefore, POM Wonder’s statements can also be considered a form of deceit that could potentially harm customers. For this reason, POM Wonder’s misstep in marketing its products and misrepresenting them can be seen as a more serious offense than the one of Coca-Cola.
Cavallo, A., Sanasi, S., Ghezzi, A., & Rangone, A. (2020). Competitive intelligence and strategy formulation: connecting the dots. An International Business Journal, 31(2), 250-275.
Ferrell, O. C., & Fraedrich, J. (2021). Business ethics: Ethical decision making and cases (8th ed.). Cengage Learning.
Kenny, K., & Fotaki, M. (2021). The costs and labor of whistleblowing: Bodily vulnerability and post-disclosure survival. Journal of Business Ethics, 1-24.
Kitson, A., & Campbell, R. (2017). The ethical organization. Red Globe Press.
Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2015). Workplace bullying: a tale of adverse consequences. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, 12(1-2), 32.