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  1. Maxwell Pinto

    Ethics is concerned with “doing the right thing” in terms of morals, fairness, respect, caring, sharing, no false promises, no lying, cheating, stealing, or unreasonable demands on employees and others, etc. In addition, business ethics calls for corporate social responsibility (CSR) and addressing social problems such as poverty, crime, environmental protection, equal rights, public health and improving education. We need a practical approach rather than a philosophical one (as discussed later), with “leadership by example.”

    Business decisions often concern complicated situations which are neither totally ethical nor totally unethical. Therefore, it is often difficult to “do the right thing,” contrary to what many case studies will have you believe!

    For instance, in a proposed sale, is it the seller’s duty to disclose all material facts regarding the product/service in question or is it the buyer’s responsibility to find out the pros and cons of what he or she is getting into? Should the seller answer each question exactly as it was asked, and ignore some pertinent information? Or should he or she merely address the spirit of the question? Is the buyer responsible for conducting due diligence, including checking out the pros and cons of buying products/services offered by the competition? In the light of real world constraints, is it really feasible to draw upon the teachings of Socrates, Aristotle, Plato and other philosophers before making a decision in every single situation?

    Ethics training can raise ethical IQs and monitor behavior, but it is difficult to alter the basic nature of individuals such as Bernie Madoff, Conrad Black and Vincent Lacroix. Ethics is conscience-based, knowledge-based and attitude-based, and not suited to some individuals, who, by their very nature, have consistently demonstrated selfishness and greed.

    Maxwell Pinto, Business Consultant and Author.

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