Ethics in Business: Ethics or Ethical law, what comes first?

I prepared this ppt for a competition organised by “Guajrat NRE coke and economic times” on the eve of global steel conference being held in goa from 11-13th Feb 2010

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Integrity Theme Presentation

The Concept – Background – The world is moving from the 1800s, which were the European century, and the 1900s, which were the American century, into the Asian century. Asian countries are trading with each other, and India is poised to become an innovative economy, not just a location for low-end jobs. As Indian economy is upbeat to take quantum jumps in the growth path, she is today embracing the world for greater foreign investment and economic development. More and more companies across the world are vying for a share in the growing Indian market as India unshackles herself from the socialistic economy of the 60s and 70s to an open modern economy of the new century. This shift will redefine business practices.

The path to become an economic superpower does not merely gets paved by liberalized economic policies formulated at the ministries of commerce and finance. For a sustainable development, a road map and awareness of an ethical business practice is also of similar importance. Many businesses have gained a bad reputation just by being in business. To some people, businesses are interested in making money, and that is the bottom line. Making money is not wrong in itself. It is the manner in which some businesses conduct themselves that brings up the question of ethical behavior.

What are the implications of these differences – and of India’s rise – for business ethics? Ethics need to be anchored to the idea of business as a profession. The most important among them is respecting the law of the land. All those interested in conducting business in India need to learn to respect the law of our country, abide by the tax systems and the process in which contracts are awarded and being executed. This also rises a pertinent question that are our laws transparent enough to conduct business in an ethical manner and is our implementation and monitoring mechanism robust enough to catch the rotten apple and throw it away from the basket. These are matter of intense debate.

There should be global standards of governance, but their application need to be adapted to local conditions. Business should run by being a subsystem to the social system and should promote ethics for improving health and wealth of the society consistently. Among other ideas, there is the need for a shift from a focus on shareholders to a focus on stakeholders and businesses need to work for the welfare of its stakeholders, for a sustainable development of the country and its people.

Ethics in business is a very broad term and includes among other things the social responsibility of business. Designing a proper rehabilitation mechanism of those affected by business and implementing it with utmost sincerity creates an air of trust and faith and removes the many bottlenecks in land acquisition (both forest and agricultural), for mine development and industrial activity. Taking the stakeholders in confidence and carrying them along the development path is the key to any sustainable development. Sensitive approach to the environment and the community in which a business operates speaks volume of the ethical behavior practiced in business, not to mention being fair and transparent to the employee and to the consumer.

And all these need to happen in the set framework of the legal system of the country. Also are our systems geared up to take the challenge thrown open by the changing socio-economic scenario? These are very vital issues that need to be addressed so that the fruits of development get percolated to the entire strata of the society or else the much hyped growth story faces a danger of getting lost in the oblivion, in the murk of distrust and anarchy being fuelled by corruption and unethical behavior of a handful.

The Contest Topic –Ethics in Business: Ethics or Ethical law, what comes first?

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