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Culture & Ethics in Business Industry

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Introduction & Approaches for Ethical Dilemma


An ethical dilemma is defined as an examination of the moral standards of an individual where the person’s values conflict with each other. For example, a salesman’s moral values are compromised by the responsibilities of work because of the need to offer a poor-quality product to a customer who is not aware of the fact. The conflicting ethical values for salesperson are loyalty to the company and truthfulness to the customer.

Approaches for Ethical Dilemma

In the Consequential Approach, Utilitarianism is followed for decision making. The utilitarian approach says that “ethical decisions should maximize benefits to society and minimize harm.” For example, the company’s decision is always based on maximizing profit ethically for a larger number of stakeholders.

The Deontological Approach is about duty, obligation and principle. In a deontological approach, a person cannot compromise on moral principles regardless of the consequences faced. The deontologist often follows the golden rule, “Treat others the way you want to get treated” (Trevino & Nelson, 2019). For example, the owner demands to change financial statements to attract investors; the auditor decides to act even if it results in losing the job.

The Virtue Ethics Approach is about personal honesty and strong moral principles. The virtuous person has ideal character traits, which are integrity, self-control and truthfulness. A person who is virtuous shows kindness in many situations of life because of that person’s character and natural internal tendencies. For example, a doctor would never break a code of ethics for self-gain (Trevino & Nelson, 2019).

Ethical Dilemma: A Story

The Story

Olivia, a new car sales agent, still doesn’t have a sale for the month of December. This is bothering her because she is a candidate for the Rookie of the Month. One of the requirements of this award is to have a sale for each month. She is also looking forward for the award as she can put it in her resume. The winner will also receive a cash bonus.

One week before the deadline, Olivia finally closed a deal. The buyer availed a limited year-ender promo for one a car. Three days later, Olivia found out that the buyer missed to sign one of the required documents. It was only Olivia who noticed the incident. The company will have an audit for the Rookie of the Year candidates and if they find out, she will be out of contention. Upon calling the buyer, Olivia found out that he is on a vacation and will be back way past the deadline. Olivia, having been pressured that she might lose the award, has signed one of the documents without the buyer’s consent. She was so nervous because it is obvious that one of the documents is forged. Her good friend, Joanne, is the one assigned to double check the documents to make sure it is complete and not forged. She told Joanne that she signed one of the documents without consent and has pleaded not tell anyone. Joanne, a close friend of Olivia, has promised not to tell anyone about what Olivia did. A month after, Joanne’s boss asked her if Olivia’s documents are complete and if signatures are authentic.


This is an ethical dilemma because if Joanne tells the truth to her boss, her friend Olivia will lose her job and the award. Also, Joanne has promised that she would not tell anyone that Olivia signed one of the documents without the buyer’s consent. Meanwhile, if she chooses to lie to her boss, she will be disrespectful to her job, the company, and to her superior. Therefore, there is a conflict with her loyalty to her friend and loyalty to her company and boss.

Course of Action

Joanne chose not to tell her boss because she is more loyal to her friend. She perceived the situation in a regular employee’s perspective, more than the perspective her boss. She knows that as an employee, it feels unfortunate and embarrassing to lose a job. Joanne, doesn’t want her friend Olivia to lose her job. Also, Joanne doesn’t want to break her promise that will result to losing Olivia’s trust.

If the situation happened again, the group has concluded that one should do what Joanne did. The group will not tell the boss what Olivia did because of the friendship that is built. Relationships are important and the group do not want a friend to lose a job and the trust in the relationship. The group believes that the conversation about with Olivia is done privately and thus, should be just between the two of them.

Ethics in the Business Industry


Ethics is the moral belief that affects a human’s behaviour. Ethical behaviour would, therefore, be the application of these moral principles. It occurs when an individual act in a manner that displays honesty, fairness, accountability, and other ethical characteristics that are morally acceptable to that individual. It is choosing to be honest, truthful, respectful and fair in your actions. (Stone, 2005) In short, it knows the difference between right and wrong.

Ethical behaviour is essential in the workplace for many reasons. Ethical conduct is what drives a business; it is what the company built its reputation. To run a successful business, one must consider the effects of unethical behaviour and put measures in place to mitigate any of these behaviours that may occur. One such example is a Code of Ethics. It can be beneficial in control and minimizing unacceptable behaviour in the workplace. (Lattal, Clark, & Daniels, 2007)

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Ethics also protects society from unscrupulous activities where the law does not apply. For example, it is not illegal to use false information to advertise your business to get customers or sell a product, but it is unethical. Therefore, a company that wants to uphold its reputation would refrain from that activity. Thus, ethics prevent organizations from harming society and the environment.

From the lower-level workers to the senior managers of a business, ethics is a central element that is very important to the success of a business. Any company that is known for its practice in moral values and has a reputation for good corporate governance is usually respected by its customers, suppliers, and society (Jennings, 2002).

Ethical Qualities

When dealing with people, honesty is one of the most critical moral characteristics to display. Ways in which this can be applied is by being truthful and being sincere in all your actions. A trustworthy person is given a lot of respect. People will feel confident knowing that you will always act in their best interest and make decisions that will benefit them in the long run. When someone is honest, it means that the person will always tell the truth. For example, if something goes wrong, an honest person will not allow someone else to take the blame for them, they will accept the responsibility for their action. It also shows that you are a person of integrity that one can always be dependable to do the right thing.

A person who practices fairness is usually able to solve situations in an objective and amicable manner. All situations are handled in the same way as any other, and no unique treatments are extended to any one person. Fairness, therefore, means dealing with others in a consistent, impartial, and objective manner. When you are fair and just, you find that people are more comfortable working around you. They are usually more cooperative and are often more motivated to do well at their jobs (Reamer, 2013).

An accountable person usually take responsibility for their actions. It means owning up to one’s mistakes and not allowing someone else to take the blame for something that you are responsible. An accountable person recognizes the difference between right and wrong and strive to practice these principles. Assigned task is completed on time and duties are performed with the goals of the organization in mind. When one is reliable and dependable, it helps to build a relationship with co-workers. It is because people feel like they can always depend on you to do the right thing. Being present for your shift, performing specific duties, and working together for a common goal are some of the priorities of an accountable person (Siems et al.,2010).


Many ethical qualities can be considered when creating ethical creditability. However, in addition to those mentioned above are two moral values that must also be considered, these are integrity and openness. These will be explored along with the other behaviours that are paramount for the realization of these principles.

Integrity is a strong moral principle. It demonstrates in someone honest, reliable and trustworthy. Someone who believed in moral values set personal standards and can be expected to deliver on their promises. Doing the right thing is essential not just for the individual but for the people around them (Reamer,2013).

When dealing with people, one must be openminded. People should be able to approach you with the confidence that you will give much thought to their feelings. An open person is mindful of how they approach the views and ideas of others. Respect and consideration are given to others’ opinions.

These are qualities that we learn from our cultural background and how we were socialized. These qualities enable us capable of demonstrating our ability to act in a manner that is socially accepted the values in our daily lives. In addition to these three principles (Siems, et al., 2010).


The application of Moral principles that include honesty, fairness, and accountability illustrates three important ethical qualities that are deemed highly relevant to the workspace. These beliefs are centred around one’s ethical values based on how an individual was trained. To maintain these values, one must continue to seek new way to uphold ethical principles, and in so doing, seek professional growth were the advantages are to build strong customer loyalty, improve company reputation and to reduce turnover for employees.

Business growth and success are foundational motivations for executive; however, correspondingly, parallel importance should be placed on the moral and ethical guidelines that drive these returns when dealing with all stakeholders.


  1. Lattal, A., Clark, R., & Daniels, A. (2007). A Good Day’s Work: Sustaining Ethical Behavior and Business Success. McGraw Hill Professional.
  2. Reamer, F. (2013). Social Work Values and Ethics. New York: Columbia University Press.
  3. Siems, F., Bruton, J., & Moosmayer, D. (2010). Integrating core marketing ethical values into relationship marketing. Journal of Relationship Marketing : Innovations & Enhancements for Customer Service, Relations & Satisfaction, 9(2), 68–82.
  4. Stone, P. (2005). Ethics and Palliative Care: A Case-based Manual. Radcliffe Publishing.
  5. Trevino, L. K., & Nelson, K. A. (2014). Managing Business Ethics: Straight Talk about How to Do It Right. United States of America: John Wiley & Sons Limited.
  6. Jennings, M. (2002). Business Ethics: case studies and selected readings. Mason, Ohio: Thomson/South-Western

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Culture & Ethics in Business Industry. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from
“Culture & Ethics in Business Industry.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022,
Culture & Ethics in Business Industry. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Sept. 2023].
Culture & Ethics in Business Industry [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 16 [cited 2023 Sept 29]. Available from:
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