Business Ethics Is Not an Oxymoron

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Business Ethics Is Not An Oxymoron
by Dexter Calma
Ateneo Graduate School of Business

Business, in a very simplified definition, describes an exchange of something for another. In this context, it can be implied that there is a fiduciary understanding that the parties involved receive goods or services that are of equal value according to the appraisal system that they have agreed upon, whether it is based on units of measurement, or just mere goodwill. Thus, ethical standards that are applied in business should be in correspondence to expected moral behaviors of society, a basic equation of interdependence.

The understanding of this basic equation has been very evident to a vast majority of well known business people, among which are those that have learned the lesson of the consequences that may result from ignoring it. The claim that business ethics is an oxymoron negates this equation because if business is structured in a way that contradicts acceptable ethical standards, then society, the other side of the equation, would react, bringing an imbalance to this natural equation, detrimental to the very survival of the business.

As I mature in my own professional career, I see a better picture of the world of business and the ethical standards that supports its very existence, the same standards that purged giant companies who ignored them like Enron and Worldcom. These companies, which were just one-chapter lessons during college, give me a broader perspective to business reality, now that I am already a part of it. Within my two-year stay in my current company, I’ve seen results coming from decisions that ignored ethical standards, results that were evidently unfavorable in the long run to those that were involved. Such decisions were only driven by favorable double-line figures, without consideration of critical ethical aspects of the business, one of which is employee satisfaction.

A specific example of this situation was seen in the Hong...
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