What outweighs What? Business or Ethics?

Yashna Bhagchandani

Ethics is basically the morals, values or principles that govern our behaviour and have a conscious about it towards our society. Ethics are the religious beliefs and what the law needs to do. It comprises of standard of behaviour our general public ideas. Ethical standards likewise incorporate trustworthiness, reliability, and empathy. Ethics is a need of human life. It is the methods for choosing a game-plan and without morals or ethics our activity would be random and aimless. The reason for a business to strive is basically to derive a profit. A business is not human so it doesn’t really have feelings or to be more specific any kind of morals or values, but the business is managed by humans and it cannot get away with the idea of ethics or morals. Both, the business as well as ethics coordinate with each other to strive success.

Is the statement true that business and ethics don’t go hand in hand?

It is believed to be subjective to an individual or an organisation. There are a lot of individuals that follow ethics and are successful, for e.g.- Ratan Tata’s core values include integrity which means to be honest, transparent and ethical in their conduct and everything they do must stand the test of public scrutiny. The company is striving because of the commitment to follow the ethics and provide the best ever services.

It is said that the only way to survive for long term is to integrate ethics and business together. Businesses can compromise with ethics for a short-term benefit, but it cannot really provide success for long periods. But this can’t be true all the time because some business cannot follow ethics. For example, a non-vegetarian restaurant it has to kill animals to earn for his/her living and if he/she follows ethics which would mean not to kill animals then the business won’t be striving at all. Also, mostly businesses focus on making profits so to be ethical it can limit profits and the individual who claims to be ethical are normally just words and not implemented by actions.

Morals and values are extremely individualistic, it is incorrect to say that you can only succeed if you are ethical, of course it will take time but can’t really force someone to follow ethics. Also, business is all about profits and ethics is about what is right and wrong, these two can’t go together if the business wants success immediately.

So, to critically evaluate the statement that business and ethics don’t go hand in hand, sometimes goes wrong because it is extremely important for a business to have ethics, Short term profits can be achieved through unethical means, but long-term success is highly improbable.

"One can do well by doing great"

This means one can prevail in business by being moral. Great business brings about great morals which implies moral strategic approaches are productive.
So, to sum it up, being ethical is very important on an individual or business basis but should also realise that not everything is black and white and there is always a middle ground. It is subjective and things should be analysed based on the situation even if takes time.


Yashna Bhagchandani
Vivekananda business school