The Importance of Business Ethics

An insight into how Hot House Music approach ethics in business.

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An overview of business ethics

Business ethics constitutes our moral obligations to deciding what is right versus wrong in making judgement in the workplace (Schwartz, 2017). The ethical and moral issues of the public have become paramount concerns for organisations (Buccholtz & Carroll, 2006) and the questions and implications of these issues must be addressed. Managers must be able to respond to the intrinsic complexities of these tasks, irregardless of the speed of progress (Cowton & Haase, 2008). The simplicity of “is this right or wrong” in business is difficult to determine and as managers we need to balance the overall ethical implications of business with our own personal ethics. Business ethics encompasses a framework of multiple factors that businesses should be concerned with including socio-cultural, economic, environmental and political/legislative.

Our legal commitments

For Hot House Music, many of the fundamental ethical practices are governed by educational legislation. As a company, it is essential that all members have the necessary safeguarding training and criminal checks before engaging in employment or educational practices with the company. The allowed behaviour of teachers has changed drastically with the abolition of corporal punishment instigated by a report into the actions of teachers in Primary and Secondary schools (Education, 1967). From an educational standpoint, Hot House Music believe in a positive approach to education, focusing on what each pupil does well rather than the mistakes they are making. From an ethical standpoint, it is essential that every member of our company follows all safeguarding policies. Managers within Hot House Music must be alert and swift to any safeguarding concerns as to keep the integrity of the company intact. Business ethics becomes important here as managers must separate our personal connection to our staff with the severity of the claims as educational practice has moved from what is accepted socially to what is policed by legislation (Lawrence, 2004). Further to this, all claims must be reported and investigated irregardless of the source. As a company Hot House Music makes it a priority to treat each student on an individual case, factoring in any social or health concerns that they may be present in their lives. Managers need to be alert to the relevant responses towards children who may be deemed otherwise “difficult”. As a company, Hot House Music promotes inclusivity and access to music and as such, managers must be able to manage the implications that inclusivity may create such as cultural requirements that may have previously not been a concern. This relates not only to new consumers/students but also to new employees. Managers have a duty of care to all employees to ensure that they are treated fairly, and this is no different at Hot House Music.

The "win-win" dilemma

Where business ethics becomes problematic is when an ethical decision has an adverse effect on the profitability of a company; “do we only act ethically in a win-win situation”? (Boylan 2014, p. 1) Boylan’s question encompasses the concerns of all stakeholders and their relationships with one another. The identification of stakeholders and their interconnecting interests in the business create ethical questions for managers (Marcoux, 2009). For managers within Hot House Music, they must determine whether the answers to the questions will have a long-term detrimental effect on the company’s growth. This relates not only to present decisions but also in anticipating how the social or legislative viewpoints might change in the future. If managers adhere to common accepted moral viewpoints then their decisions will be correct (Bowie, 2013). Hot House Music is heavily affected by reputational standing and as such, we believe all decisions should adhere to Bowie’s advice.

Corporate Social Responsibility

A final consideration for this discussion on business ethics is the evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Simpson & Taylor (2013, p. 203) provide a detailed table of multiple definitions of CSR with the throughline being a business’ obligations to different facets of society be it economic, environmental, cultural etc. Hot House Music’s CSR revolves around four key principles: access, nurture, environment, and legacy. These four strands directly impact the economic sustainability of the company and thus are important for key investor stakeholders. In providing free access to Hot House products, managers demonstrate a desire to positively impact the local society. Once consumers have joined the company, each child is nurtured through lessons, ensembles, tours and recording opportunities. The behaviours of the manager revolve around providing a positive experience for every child. In developing each child, Hot House music are creating a firm legacy of strong, independent individuals that go on to be dynamic in their life whether that be inside or outside of music. Whilst there has been criticism of CSR (Beal 2014, p. 67-71) the socio-economic importance has been vital for Hot House Music in developing our company vision. As long as managers are clear on the aims of the CSR then it is a useful source for effective company governance.

A final consideration on ethics in business

Business ethics are vital to company sustainability and growth. It is fundamental that managers follow common understandings of morality and ethical behaviour standards. This is especially critical in today’s age of technology and public knowledge where information is readily available and public opinions are swift and damning. For Hot House Music as a company in its growth period, any unethical behaviour will stunt growth due to negative consumer opinion and a reluctance to use the services. The success of businesses is decided on making difficult decisions. For me, long-term sustainability is the key aim of business but this should never be achieved through dubious ethical actions. Public perception has never been more important in business and unethical practices and dishonesty will ultimately lead consumers to opponents products. A company’s ethical practice comes from their acceptance of responsibility. Managers have to understand that with responsibility comes accountability for their actions and those that they are responsible for and as such, ethical and responsible leadership will result in positive economic and social growth (Pless & Maak, 2011). Effective and responsible leadership is the only way to guarantee positive company ethics.

Looking forward

For future managers of Hot House Music, the main advice would be to ensure that their ethical viewpoints fall in line with those dictated by government legislation. If you are unable to follow the strict guidelines of safeguarding, GDPR, discrimination policies then they will struggle to fulfil their duties as a manager. Staff members are mirrors of those who lead them and for new managers they must be able to engage their workforce without making ethically dubious decisions.

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