Is Teaching Ethics Ethical?


I chose to search wordpress through the “Business Ethics” filter because I feel like that best represents the overarching theme of our course experience so far. I wanted to find people who are blogging about the same issues as we are. The most interesting blog that I came across was called WorkPlace Readers and they had a post talking about the true place of Ethics in the business world that caught my eye.

The post discusses the benefits of companies behaving ethically and how these types of behaviors benefit the company in the long run. They can establish credibility and a good reputation this way, which is imperative to a successful business these days. It also focuses on the motivation factors that drive business people to behave ethically, not all of which are entirely ethical. The corporations instruct their employees to behave ethically, which unfortunately is not a conclusion they all come to on their own. In an era of greed, unethical behavior runs rampant in business society.

This post reminded me of the Enron case that we just read and how their employee benefit and review program led to unethical behavior and the company’s eventual collapse. Good ethics is required for companies to be successful, and their senior management understands that, however they instill these ethical values in their employees. Employees must enter the workplace with these values instilled in them, they cannot be taught. If a person doesn’t have these values, then they are less likely to behave consistently well. Ethics are difficult as many companies thrive off of money making and unethical practices, but ethics are far more important than money as that is what speaks to your character and your greater life successes.

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6 responses to “Is Teaching Ethics Ethical?

  1. Searching the overarching theme of “business ethics” is also a topic that I considered while looks for blogs on WordPress. I think this article is very relevant to the course work that we have been dealing with thus far in the course. The article stresses that “doing the right thing to get something in return is an investment, not a demonstration of character” and that what it comes down to is either acting ethically or being an ethical person. I agree with the author that companies have a better chance of appealing to conscience and principle rather than risks and rewards when they are looking to discourage selfish behavior and decisions.

  2. I also searched business ethics because of everything that happened in the past decade with Enron and the financial meltdown in 2008. Companies do need to be ethical to gain trust from customers and employees. But as we have seen and read, people are instinctively greedy. One lesson that needs to be learned from the past decade is that you will get caught if your doing something illegal, especially if your a massive company like Enron.

  3. Mara mentions an idea that I feel like we haven’t covered enough about at this point discussing business ethics, the idea of the positive vibes and culture of a company that is running in an ethical manner. When discussing business ethics, we’ve been covering more the ideas of “should people accept bribes and keep illegal activity unmentioned?”. I think it’s interesting to ask the “what if” question about what the business culture would be like in an good-ethics atmosphere. Of course, I know that people are greedy and will do almost anything to get their hands on some more money, but I also like to think that the idea of a well-run, positive, honest company can be appealing to some businesspeople.

  4. One point that you made that I really want to touch on was when you stated that “employees must enter the workplace with these values instilled in them, they cannot be taught.” I must say that I agree with your stance on this. The bottom line is that you either act ethically or you don’t. Like you said, ethics is required for a company to be successful, and that can often times deplete revenues. As we saw in the Enron case, certain tactics such as the off-balance sheet methods are not illegal. But were they ethically wrong? Obviously in hind-sight we can see that this was one of the many determining factors that led to Enron’s demise. So it is up to the people in a company that operate under strictly ethical procedures to be the ones to call out such activities and keep the company honest, even if it lowers revenues.

  5. Having just read Kathleen’s post (https://bizgovsocfive.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/higher-education-and-the-corporation/) on how Pearson the textbook company is trying to get involved in testing student teachers, I think these two posts have an interesting relationship. I’m hesitant about the idea of employers, teachers, or even textbooks teaching us what is ethical. Should this really be taught by a person or organization with so much power that the individual might not get a chance to really think for themselves before being molded? I really don’t like the idea of a profit making organization deciding what I should think is ethical and what is not.

  6. I think teaching ethics all depends on how much of an emphasis a company wants to put in it. If a company wants to stress ethics and create an atmosphere that fosters strong ethics, that is their call. But I’m afraid most companies are more concerned about profits, and that’s something that will hopefully change in the future.

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