Ethics and Greenwashing

Topics: Environmentalism, Ethics, Sustainability Pages: 5 (1440 words) Published: May 21, 2013
Ethics can be defined as a set of moral standards, relied on to reach conclusions and decisions. Within a business environment, ethics play a large role in sophisticated decision making. Maintaining an ethical nature within a business can benefit both the internal and external stakeholders within the business.

Ethics are genuinely shaped as you mature and grow, and are significantly influenced by both your surrounding environment and the people around you. Your ethical viewpoints continue changing and evolving over time as a result of the different people you expose and interact with as well as the change of environment and situations you can find yourself in. Business ethics are genuinely based on the way in which positive benefits can be made to your business, with high ethical standards will lead to: •Improved employee and organisational morale

Increased ability to attract new customers
Improved customer loyalty
Reduced risk of negative exposure and public backlash caused by poor ethics •Attraction of new stakeholders
Making a positive impact on the community

Business ethics are important mainly because of the consequences that can occur from the decisions in which lack a regard to ethics. Good ethics may not always lead to high profit for a business, but poor ethical standards within a business can negatively effect on your business in the long term. The future effects of business manager’s actions could be severe, particularly if there is injury to staff or they are experiencing financial loss.

Through poor ethics, many businesses have come into legal cases where people seek compensation for how they have suffered as a result of the decisions of business people not following there ethical standards. In businesses, who share a common goal of being sustainable, it is important for employees at all level to be committed to its ethical standards within the business. As a business manager it is significantly important that you are able to clearly define and communicate with your employees, the ethical standards you expect them to adhere by, and the potential ramifications for failing in meeting such expectations

With increased public awareness, and greater attention emphasised by the media on environmental issues, which has seen to put ethical, social and environmental issues as a major focus within firms and businesses. The increase in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities may reflect different motives of the firm: altruism, strategic choices to maximise profits, and attempts to enhance the image of the firm without significantly changing business conduct often also referred to as ‘green wash’ (Frankendal, 2001).

Consumers have shown a recent trend in spending a little extra on environmentally-friendly products, due to the highly anticipated crisis of human induced change to our climate. This has lead to people purchasing organic food, and reverting to non-toxic house cleaning products. This new brand of consumer behaviour has lead to companies taking drastic action as putting authentic and non-toxic products on the market, which is hard as it has a significant cost, and takes a considerable amount of time. This has lead to companies turning to “green washing” for a quick fix.

“Green washing” is a term which really relates to the deceptive claims of eco-friendliness, it is used to describe the nature in which public relations and marketing is promoted through claiming to use environmentally sustainable practices in which organisations claim to abide by. It is an effective method that companies can adopt to enhance profit or even in gaining political support.

Many companies have plainly abused their consumer’s wants, green washing may have been around for several years, and its use has become greater in recent years as companies have strived to meet the ever increasing consumer demand of greener products and services, according to advertising consultancy, Terrachoice...

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TerraChoice Environmental Marketing. The “Six Sins of Greenwashing”: A Study of Environmental Claims in North American Consumer Markets. London: TerraChoice Environmental Marketing; 2007. (viewed 22/03/2013)
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