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Myths about Business Ethics

Myths about religion, opinion, and law

Business ethics isn’t just about major unethical acts, such as making off with the pension funds or lying to shareholders. And it doesn’t only apply to CEOs and top management. It’s about the moral and ethical decisions, big and small, that every employee makes every day.

There are several common myths about business ethics and you may have listed some of them in your response. One common myth is that ethics is just a matter of personal opinion. Another is that religion is the only good guide to ethics. And finally, there’s the myth that obeying the law is enough to ensure your behavior is ethical.

Ethics is just about your own personal opinion

Some people think that ethics is just about your own personal opinion — the first of the common myths. It’s true that your opinion can help you to decide what’s right. 

But it’s also true that some opinions are more ethical than others. A good way to assess whether your opinion is ethical is to think about whether you could defend your opinion to somebody else.

Ethics is about religion

The second myth is that ethics is about religion. Business ethics isn’t about trying to change people’s values or beliefs. It’s about getting people to make more ethical decisions.

Religion can help some people to make ethical decisions. But non-religious people make good ethical decisions too. And religion doesn’t always provide all the answers.

Consider this example of two colleagues, Bill and Amy. Bill is religious, and Amy has very strong opinions. They need to make a decision about whether to introduce a new pricing structure at their company.