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Is Business and Professional Ethics the Same Thing?

Many people get confused with the term ethics and the difference if there is one between business ethics and professional ethics. The point of this article is to identify and discuss these terms to bring about a better understanding of them. Some will say ethics is the same whether it is business or professional. To some extent they are right and in others they are wrong.

The concept of business ethics relate to the operational character of a business as a whole. While this will involve individuals business ethics relates to the character of a business as managed by the management in place. Business ethics is something that is needed but to what extent is it lacking in the business world is the question. if you accept the news reports about unethical decisions being made by business management in private industry you get the impression business ethics does not exist. To that I say they are wrong. Granted there are examples where business ethics have been lacking or nonexistent but that does not mean they are lacking through the business community. There are always going to be examples where individuals make the wrong decisions and we have seen a number of them in recent years.

I feel that for the number of examples that are provided through news events where business ethics are lacking or nonexistent there are many more where they do exist. I agree that business ethics is an important characteristic to display in the operational decisions of a company or organization. .

I am not trying to ignore the examples which have been in the news but too often individuals in management positions of companies or organizations do not get the recognition they deserve for displaying this characteristic. News events should provide examples where business ethics exists along with those where they do not. New focus needs to be placed to give exposure to companies and organizations that have a history of exhibiting business ethics in the operations. This however rarely happens. One of the reasons for this it appears to be that it is not a news event. It is not a news event for the simple reason the numbers of businesses where business ethics are lacking are pale in comparison to where business ethics do exist.

The subject of professional ethics applies to those individuals recognized to be in a professional occupation which encompasses specific positions in private industry along with government. These are typically considered to be white collar jobs with no relationship to ethnic origin but the position itself. Professional ethics is one level above the term business ethics simply for the fact individuals in professional positions have a different impact based on their position. There is no difference between business and professional ethics in my view as if you exhibit proper ethics in the way you conduct business it qualifies as both business ethics and professional ethics.

The terms professional ethics and business ethics can however apply to every individual. Some professions are considered to be professionals but in a sense we are all professionals in the jobs we do. Professional and business ethics applies to all jobs in that we are professionals in performing the jobs with which we are entrusted. Ethics in the general sense really does not need to be distinguished between business and professional ethics. The key is to have ethics principals engrained in your character whether you are a person who works in an office or a factory.

Ethics is an important topic today for which people pay attention when issues surface for companies, organizations and the individuals who work for them. Professional ethics by their nature has an impact on the success of an organization or business and in this sense they are business ethics. Every action we take as individuals with regards to our ethics philosophy affect the success of the company or organization for which we work.

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The subject of this article was business and professional ethics for executives and this is great but it should not make a difference whether you are an executive or an individual who works for an executive. Business and professional ethics are one and the same. The importance of these terms cannot be underestimated as to their impact not only on executives, their companies or organizations but the individuals who work for them.


Dennis AuBuchon (author) from Ohio on May 18, 2016:

Thanks for stopping by and commenting

ocean on May 18, 2016:

i agree with you that both ethics are just the same

Howard Schneider from Parsippany, New Jersey on June 15, 2011:

You are right on point Dennis. Ethics are the same in business, government, or whatever field you wish to discuss. People should be more in tune as to what they consider ethical behavior and then demand it from their governmental and business leaders. They can then exercise their determinations by way of the ballot box and the marketplace where they consume their products.

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