Sales Ethics

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Individual Assignment : Sales Ethics is an Oxymoron

It is often disputed amongst business enthusiasts whether ‘sales ethics is an oxymoron?’ A few decades ago, understanding and fostering ethical decision-making in the business world wasn’t as complicated as it is today. It is argued that although individual factors play a significant role in the ethical practice of day-to-day business, ultimately it is up to management and the top-level hierarchy of a firm that ultimately sets the standards when it comes to trading ethically. This paper discusses why sales ethics is not an oxymoron and why management is the key source of guidance for ethical behavior within an organization.

The presence of business scandals has increasingly become the focus of the media that draws our attention to the ethical policies and the practice of leaders of our corporate world. Scandals such as ENRON and MCI are just a few of the business demonstrating lack of ethical codes and guidelines at the top of many organizations. The Economist stated in 2007 that out of 165 business, over 65 sales executives were under investigation for violation of ethical behavior in the U.S alone (Mulki, Jaramillo and Locander, 2008, 125). Sales people are the main function of a business that are continuously under pressure to produce results and so are more susceptible to unethical practice.

Furthermore, research shows that the general public find sales people the most untrustworthy function of a business and describe them as having low ethical standards. Corporate bodies have responded to this by implementing a set code of ethics and policies which each employee, either at top or bottom level hierarchy must abide by. For example the pharmaceutical industry has undergone much scrutiny, in regards to questionable promotional tactics such as lavish gifts in order to have their medicines prescribed over competitors. Recognizing these concerns, the industry trade association created a set of...
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