The applying of a moral code of conduct to the strategic and operational management of a business. These policies can be simple exhortations in broad, highly generalized language (usually known as a company ethics statement), or they can be extra detailed insurance policies, containing specific behavioural requirements (typically called company ethics codes).
Be it the relation of business and politics, be it the function of business in financial inequality, or be it the role of business in new technologies and big knowledge – these are all new moral challenges which ask for wider and deeper conceptualizations of the role of business and its embeddedness in wider society.
We are going to cover this in depth within the corporate governance implementation part of this website, offering detailed examples of the right way to use proxies to define business ethics within the context of stakeholders who may be unfamiliar with the topic and/or the way the company operates.
Looking then to US books (see beneath), we will see that it is here that business ethics particularly stands out – albeit with a mid 1970s blip when company responsibility overtook it. Even as late as 2008, business ethics nonetheless dominates by quite a spot, although this is clearly narrowing over time.
The controversial challenge is who ought to do something to help, and the way much they need to do. Thus defenders of the above argument focus most of their attention on establishing that firms have these duties, towards those that say that these duties are properly assigned to states or people.