Should they be allowed to run their business the way they want to run their businesses?

Marlene Grimes 12:00am – H73 Manage Discussion Entry
The Relationship between Ethics and Business

Marlene Y. Grimes

St. Thomas University

The relationship between ethics and business can be very complex yet debatable at the

same time as to what is ethically moral and immoral. Ethics refers to the study of moral

principles or values that determine whether actions are right or wrong and outcomes as good or

bad (McShane and Von Glinow, 2010). Although businesses today strive to have that advantage

over their competitors while keeping finances at the forefront of their minds, many also make

every effort to maintain their integrity and self-respect in the eyes of their consumers, vendors

and employees. However, many business struggle to do what is ethically right to stay ahead.

Some businesses feel that there is no need to be ethical as long as they are doing well

financially; their behaviors although unethical are not illegal. According to Milton Friedman,

“The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits. The sole task is to maximize

profit for the company, subject to the limits of law and “rules of the game” that ensure “open and

free competition without deception or fraud” (Milton Friedman, 1970). So if businesses are

following the law, should they be exempt from following what everyday people may see as

unethical behavior? Should they be allowed to run their business the way they want to run their


Four years ago I found myself in the middle of an ethical decision in which I was not the

final decision maker. As part of a very competitive private catholic school district where

“recruiting” of 8th grade athletes is not allowed, the competition at the administrative level

between schools has become ruthless. 20 years ago the focus was on enrolling top academic

students that were athletes as well. In today’s society, the focus is on the top athlete first

because those athletes are the ones that will fill the seats at sporting events, bringing

money, championships and most importantly keeping those top athletes away from the

competitors. When the opportunity came about 4 years ago to meet with eight potential

8th graders and their parents at the residence of one of the potential students, although illegal and

unethical, the administration didn’t give it a second thought to send me to this location. As

a result, seven of the eight students enrolled. Today, three of the eight are the top basketball

guards in South Jersey leading the team through an undefeated season. Many would assume that

a catholic run organization would have very high ethical standards but this becomes obsolete

when the competitive business aspect arises and the organization must do everything they can to

stay one step ahead of their competitors.

Ethics and business go hand in hand, and should not be separated. The businesses that do

what is right will prosper in the long run by keeping employees happy while maintaining their

respect, keeping the company’s reputation at a high standard and still able to turn a profit.

After all, the right thing is not always the easy thing.

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