The relationship between ethics, morality and social issues in the legal environment can be sometimes confusing. It has to have just the right balance. For when they overlap, something unethical can also become something illegal. When they do not overlap, the illegal action can somehow seem ethical. Or it can still be legal but seem unethical. Of course the overlap is when you have the clearest course of action. For when it is an unethical situation, and not illegal, it comes down to the company’s personal code of ethics. In business today, law and ethics is NOT the same thing. The definition of law is consistent universal rules. It is widely published, generally accepted, and usually enforced. The laws describe how we are required to act in our society. The terms of this definition go as follows: * A law is consistent if two requirements contradict each other, neither can become law. * A law is universal if two or more requirements are applicable to everyone. * For a law to be published it must be written for public accessibility. * For a law to be accepted, it must be generally obeyed.
And for a law to be enforced, society must be compelled to obey it if it is not already done voluntarily.
The definition of ethics comes from the Greek word ethos which means character, and from the Latin word mores which means customs. In the English Language, we put them together and they define how we interact with each other.
Ethics and legalities are usually very similarly related. But ethical values often go beyond legal duties. Sometimes the law tells us what is ethical. That doesn’t mean they always coexist in harmony. The following diagram from the article, Law vs. Ethics, Anstead, 1999. shows how law and ethics overlap.
In today’s business world, private companies and organizations usually establish their own code of ethics that are enforced internally instead of abiding only by the government laws. This doesn’t mean that...