Importance & Impact of Ethical Communication in Today’s Business

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Communication is constant, especially in the information age. Savvy professionals know how to communicate quickly, effectively and ethically. The term "ethical communication" has different meanings depending on the context. A shampoo advertiser and a sports team spokesperson may have dissimilar views on what constitutes as ethical communication. Some communication guidelines are only applicable to certain situations, while others could be understood as ethical in one situation and unethical in another. Every aspect of ethical communication should be considered within the boundaries of the issue at hand.


The Business Dictionary defines ethical standards as follows: Principles that when followed, promote values such as trust, good behavior, fairness, and/or kindness. There is not one consistent set of standards that all companies follow, but each company has the right to develop the standards that are meaningful for their organization. Ethical standards are not always easily enforceable, as they are frequently vaguely defined and somewhat open to interpretation ("Men and women should be treated equally, " or "Treat the customer with respect and kindness."). Others can be more specific, such as "Do not share the customer's private information with anyone outside of the company."

Ethical Communication in Business

Every business is dependent on effective ethical communication. It's what makes new policy in government, raises money for nonprofits and strengthens a business. Business communication occurs any time a message is given or received, whether it's verbal or nonverbal, between two businesses, a business and its employees or a business and the public. The messages sent and received by a business need to follow ethical norms that don't offend or make individuals feel uncomfortable.

Ethical business communication holds great significance on three main fronts: business to business, business to employees and business to the public. An example of the first type is between a business and its suppliers or distributors. The second is organizational communication within the business itself, how the leadership communicates with the employees. Lastly, communication with the public is how the business develops its public image. Maintaining high ethical standards on each front is essential to success in business.

Ethical business communication's primary function is to send and receive messages in a neutral, non-offensive manner. Ethical effective communication skills in business strengthen its corporate culture, resulting in a more attractive bottom line. When communication does not adhere to ethical standards, the consequences can include unhappy employees, a poor public image and a decrease in the bottom line. Ethical business communication is intended to care for the emotional and perceptive needs of its employees and customers.

A common misconception concerning ethical communication in business is that most unethical communication is obvious and overt. True unethical communication is based on perception. If a person or people group perceive or interpret certain actions or words to be discriminatory or offensive, the communication can be considered unethical. The same is true with interpersonal interactions between employees. If a particular form of communication or gesture is offensive to another employee, it can be categorized as unethical.

The purpose of ethical communication in business is to protect, respect and maintain a good public image. The communication in any business is for the purpose of maintaining order and the proper image with its employees and society. For example, if an accusation was to arise against a particular company, the public relations representative will arrange a press conference to verbally address the issue at hand. The company may also change a policy pertaining to the issue that non-verbally...
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