Making Ethical Business Decisions

· Even if officers, directors, and others in a company want to make ethical decisions, it is not always clear what is ethical in a given situation. Thinking beyond things that are easily measured, such as profits, can be challenging. Although profit projections are not always accurate, they may be more objective than considering the personal impacts of decisions on employees, shareholders, customers, and the community. But this subjective component of decision making can be equally important to a company’s long-run profits.

· Individuals entering the global corporate community, even in entry-level positions, must be prepared to make hard decisions. Sometimes, there is no “good” answer to the questions that arise. Therefore, it is important to have tools to help in the decision-making process and a framework for organizing those tools.

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· Several frameworks exist to help businesspersons make ethical decisions. Some frameworks, for instance, focus more on legal than ethical implications. This approach tends to be primarily outcome-based and, as such, may not be appropriate for a company that is values driven or committed to corporate social responsibility (or has a consumer or investor base that is focused on CSR). Other models, such as the Business Process Pragmatism™ procedure developed by ethics consultant Leonard H. Bucklin, set out a series of steps to follow. In this text, we present a modified version of this system that we call IDDR. (“I Desire to Do Right” is a useful mnemonic device for remembering the name.)

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