Ethics as a subject is taught at almost all levels of education that one goes through—be at home, school, college or postgraduate curriculum. Though ethical considerations in case studies are used as an educational tool in Management Curriculum, yet we find that in the race for business profits in the highly competitive business environment, ethics seems to have lost their relevance. Most businessmen, young or old alike, just make a passing reference to ethical considerations rather than opting for a proactive and positive approach. The philosophy that rules today – No matter how you reach your goals but focus only on the achievement of goals. Anything and anyhow almost majority of people do not care for the means used if objectives are achieved. In short, the end justifies the means.
There has never been a more appropriate time than now to focus on human values and ethics when we are faced with depletion of natural resources, unequal development, inequitable distribution of wealth and other issues resulting in widening the gap between haves and have-nots. But all is not lost. The technological developments including the proliferation of mobile connections, social media, and digital marketing have added to the knowledge of common man. Companies cannot get away without paying attention to and a meeting customer’s expectation. Companies with ethical values, like Tatas, are being preferred over unethical ones. Potential investors and current shareholders are forcing organizations to be ethical not only to them but also to their employees and customers with due consideration to the environment too. The positive public image is an outcome of ethical considerations on which the organization rests.
In the Indian context, equally important is the role of government in creating an atmosphere where the wealthy and powerful too are subjected to all checks and balances as applicable to all without any discrimination based on their status. This too will make a significant impact in emphasizing ethical considerations in our daily lives. Recently, over 2100 companies have cleared their outstanding amounts, a majority of which came after Government amended the IBC. The business culture of cheating/impropriety is beginning to change through a deft move by the government, an excellent example of government bringing a sense of propriety in public dealings by the wealthy and powerful businessmen.
Some of the other recent pronouncements and instances that exemplify ethical considerations that all professionals, (lawyers/ doctors/ engineers), business leaders and individuals will have to abide by, are precursors of serious changes that will ensue.
- Recent directive by Supreme Court of India asking Central Government to enact a law to regulate legal profession because of growing commercialization of the legal profession at the cost of their professional ethics.
- Environment pollution has been in headlines in Delhi-NCR time and again, but the recent cricket test match gave it international twist when some players were seen wearing face masks while playing.
- Healthcare is the other issue hogging the limelight exposing its commercialization with utter disregard of ethical practices by health professionals.
- Real Estate is another business activity full of unethical practices by builders, big or small, that has again forced the entry of court of law and government to bring rules and guidelines to regulate it.
- Corporate social responsibility has assumed importance as it has been made mandatory by the Indian government.
It is high time, when we as part of an organization or as an individual /professional took note of our social obligations despite competitive pressures and unrealistic goals lest somebody else curtail our “freedom” and makes rules for us to follow. Let us do it on our own rather than others making us do what we are supposed to – be ethical in both our personal and professional dealings. We are all customers as well as sellers, one time or other, every day and we, therefore, cannot escape the responsibility of being ethical in these dual roles.
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Blog by: Prof. Ganesh Khanna, Associate Professor-Marketing, HOD – MBA Department, IILM CET, Greater Noida