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Business Ethics


What are business ethics?

Business ethics refers to the moral principles and values that guide the behavior of individuals and organizations in the business world, including honesty, fairness, responsibility, and accountability. It involves making ethical decisions and conducting business activities in a way that is socially responsible and sustainable.

By incorporating ethical practices into their operations, businesses can enhance their social responsibility. Ethical business behavior also helps companies avoid legal issues, fines, and other negative consequences that can arise from unethical practices.

Business ethics, sometimes also known as corporate ethics, is a crucial element of any business strategy when it comes to starting a business as a small business owner.

History and of business ethics

The concept of business ethics dates back to ancient civilization. However, it was not until the 20th century that the term gained significant attention in the business world.

The rise of corporate scandals in the 1970s and 1980s brought the need for ethical behavior in business to the forefront. This led to the establishment of professional organizations such as the Society for Business Ethics and the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.

What values make up business ethics

The key components of good business ethics include:

Integrity: Honesty and transparency in all business dealings with customers, suppliers and others.

Accountability: Taking responsibility for actions and decisions as a company, for example, the third party chosen to open factories to manufacture a company's product.

Respect: Treating all individuals with respect and dignity - this includes potential customers, customers and employees.

Fairness: Ensuring fairness in all business transactions between customers, suppliers and employees.

Compliance: Adhering to all laws and regulations when conducing business in the state or country the business operates in, including adhering to labor laws.

Why implement consistent business ethics?

Implementing business ethics can offer numerous benefits to a business. Some of this include but are not limited to,

01. Enhanced reputation and trust with stakeholders - this can include investors, customers and employees.

02. Improved customer loyalty and retention because they trust you and your product.

03. Increased employee morale and motivation which leads to improved productivity and business growth.

04. Better decision-making and risk management, it can be conducted fairly and with the company's best interests at the center.

05. Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.

A big brand with high business ethics

One notable example of a corporation that highlights how high business ethics can mean business success is Patagonia, an outdoor clothing company that prioritizes environmental sustainability. They've implemented numerous ethical practices, such as using recycled materials in their products, donating 1% of their annual sales to environmental causes, and being transparent about their supply chain.


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Injecting positive ethics into your business

To effectively implement business ethics, businesses should consider the following best practices:

  • Create a code of ethics that outlines the company's values and principles, share it on your business website.

  • Train employees on ethical behavior and decision-making.

  • Establish a system for reporting unethical behavior that is fair and works.

  • Regularly assess and update ethical practices and compliance with them.

Challenges of being consistent with your business ethics

Sometimes, implementing business ethics can present challenges for companies, especially when companies grow. Some of these challenges are,

  • The cost of implementing ethical practices - especially in manufacturing and other areas of production.

  • The potential conflict between profit motive and ethical behavior - the drive for profit can sometimes overcome ethics.

  • The need to balance ethical considerations with other business priorities, such as profit and scalability.

To overcome these challenges, businesses should prioritize ethical values in their decision-making processes and strive for a balance between ethical behavior and financial success.

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Related Term

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