Ethics and ethical behavior are difficult terms to define in any narrow sense. However, broadly defined, ethics refers to the study of what it means to be the ideal human character and what is our highest moral duty. Ethics also refers to the internal understanding we have of what is right or wrong, the set of ideas and principles that help guide our behavior. Ethical behavior refers to behaving in a way that is in keeping with our ideas of internally and externally defined good values such as honesty, fairness, respect, diversity, respecting individual rights and equality. Ethical practices and corporate social responsibility are critical issues for contemporary managers for several reasons. First, it was long ago recognized that efficient and rational business practices, focused on delivering steady profits for the stakeholders, could easily grow to harm the society that enabled the organization to grow. To protect its own interests, then, it is important for corporations to maintain ethical practices which guide their corporate social responsibility policies. Doing this requires them to maintain a close connection with the society in which they operate, so that they can stay in tune with what that society needs and operate within the network of shared social responsibility. Responsiveness to changes in social ideology functions toward the welfare of the society as well as the long-term identity of the organization.
One example of how stakeholder’s decisions can lead to a company’s image and how customers view that brand can be found in the case of Google, the search engine giant. Stakeholders in this company value innovation, exploration, teamwork, and adhere to humanistic ideals. Their headquarters are designed to encourage these values and as a result are affecting how we as a society view education and the skills to be valued for the next century. The focus on innovation and creative thinking combined with humanistic settings that address the full human being has also led to the company itself being considered a good company to work for and a leader for the modern world.
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