Jewish Business Ethics: “It Was Only Business”

Are Business Ethics an Oxymoron?

Our daily business ethics speak far louder than the words we utter in synagogue.

Rabbi Benjamin Blechby Rabbi Benjamin Blech

And if Harvard MBAs get it, and corporate titans understand it, we certainly ought to focus our attention on the issue of business ethics as one of the most relevant concerns of anyone interested in tikkun olam – perfecting the world.

When we talk about the importance of business ethics as a barometer of spirituality, we need to remind ourselves of the remarkable passage in the Talmud that tells us that after we leave this earth to face our divine judgment, there are many things we will be queried about as the heavenly court reviews our lives. Yet the very first question posed will be: “Were your business dealings conducted honestly?”

And no one will be able to justify his misdeeds by claiming “It was only business!”

Are Business Ethics an Oxymoron?

I want to put more in the blog about religious ethics. I strongly believe that it is neglected and often discarded in discussions of business ethics. But religion has much to say about business conduct from the Old Testament’s demand for just weights to Islam’s ban on interest payments.

James Pilant

From around the Web –

From the web site, Business Ethics Review, here is a post by Yasir Samad:

If the company never seriously thought about whether it is ethical and corporate social responsibility issues, these six can provide guidance to start the process. Although it is important to behave ethically, it is equally important to get the message to the public if a company wants to take advantage of “doing well”.
1. Define what your company stands for and what values it places on the market. Public awareness of these values? Do they have a positive reaction to them?
2. Check the internal and external relations of the company. Do not they make sense and reflect the values of society? Public and the media frequently proclaim the guilt of the association. To search for new relationships with companies that meet ethical standards.
3. Understanding what the public expect from a company today. Are you ready to meet those expectations?
4. Check the location of assets, liabilities, and promises of brands, products, public sector and community initiatives.
5. Compare your public profile, in which private actions. Are in conflict?
6. Do not be shy about spreading the word through the media, employees and community.

From the web site, Richard James Sharp’s Blog:

Ethics involves the notion of morals however they’re different but interrelated concepts (Ethics and morality, n.d.; Tallman 2009).  Morals are the individual establishment between right and wrong whereas ethics occurs in the context of groups of individuals who build shared values and standards creating a culture in which decisions influencing the causal relationship of right and wrong exist (Clawson 2006 ; Hrebiniak 2005 ; Klebe Treviño, Pincus Hartman & Brown 2000 ; Northouse 2009 ; Schein 2004).  There’s a philosophical question of whether businesses have ethics due to the notion that business is apart from society (Longstaff 1991).  However, individual people who constitute the business are part of multiple collectives defining the wider societal and cultural values environment in which ethics resides and the business operates (Huntsman 2008 ; Longstaff 1991).

And finally, from the web site, Bhavin Gandhi’s Blog:

Have you ever saw the definition of business? If you have then you know what I am talking about. In defining a business, ethics don’t play in to the picture at all. Sole purpose of a business is to increase the value for its stakeholders. Thus, can you blame those businesses, who are taking advantage ofthe lower tax policies in Ireland to increase their net income? It might be morally wrong forthose businesses to show all of their profit in Ireland, while they get their 50-70% profitfrom United States, but you can’t do anything about that. As more and more countries loosen their tax policies to attract foreign businesses, there would always be somecompanies who want to move there to increase their net profit by paying lower taxes there.

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