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Discuss about the Integrating Ethics Across Business World.

Unethical Practices in the Software Development Company

This Case Study is about a large Software Development Company, which is not following business ethics with high morality and integrity for monetary gains. In this software development organization, all financial transaction regarding the development and maintenance work is carried out against Budget Codes, comprising a five-digit number assigned by OSBM (Office of State Budget and Management) to report the organization’s budget. The budget code identifies the major budget types for reporting. Maintenance work of this software is fixed and reported in an internal code as it is insufficient to get an individual attention. Whereas, all development cost is financed by the customer through the internal financial transaction. However, it is considered a frequent practice in this software development organization to secretly fund the maintenance work without the client’s knowledge. It is no doubt that management is taking undue advantage of the customer’ ignorance regarding the scope of the development and hence how much he needs to pay for the development work.

Here, we get to see that the management of this software company didn’t seem to pursue integrity and high morality. Their conscience allowed them to charge extra from their client by adding the maintenance cost of software in development budget. They flouted the business integrity and transparency to make more money. Such habit of maximizing profits at any costs make companies lose clients in the long run. Raising people's consciousness about business ethics and virtues is more important than simply protesting against malpractices. Exercising righteous actions is still a theory for some organization. Business judgments should always be based on values, standards, and ethics. Business ethics is also about 'consciousness-raising' activity, where employees are encouraged to follow the virtues and moral in their conduct to carry out their responsibility towards their clients or customers. (Vallance,1995)

Over the past 25 years or so, intensive investigation on ethics and standards in business is carried out, by philosophers, social scientists and members of the business disciplines. Business virtues are more like social virtues like honesty, courage, temperance, and justice. They should be conducive to the growth of a society and public in general. (Frederick, 1999)

Here, the Software Company is making profits by sneaking in maintenance expenses in the budget of development work in an unethical way. The organization itself is influencing its employees to make money disregarding the higher standard of code of ethics in business practices that are previously set at the inception of the company. The regular operations carried out in the organization doesn’t seem to be in tandem with the policies, an ethical business should follow. Such malpractices to create more profit destroy the customer trust and challenge both business houses and legislators to rethink the out-of-date legal and corporate ethical laws. This company needs to pass on ethical business conducts along it all levels in the hierarchies by practicing them and not by just preaching. (Malachowski, 2011)

Importance of Business Ethics and Virtues

A company should make an informed decision as to what degree they can practically uphold the concept of ethical practices to make profits in their business. They need to judge how much ethical practices is feasible in the contemporary market. Moreover, careful analysis of the preferred ethical approaches in dealing with all its stakeholder is also a paramount task to run a business smoothly. The company should make a commitment to those ethical approaches which it believes to be the best.

In the words of Warren Buffett, "Doing the right things doesn't automatically bring success. But compromising ethics almost always leads to failure". (Das, p 25)

Ethics are a foundation for a long-term growth in a company. Organizations with hog moral standards never defy these rules for temporary gains, they always based their conducts on a solid ethical footing. Thus, we can say that great companies reflects smart business practices and always conforms to the ethical norms and virtues while carrying out their regular activities to run their business. The organization should address and consider the concern of its shareholders, employees, clients,  government, financial institutions, associates, and creditors etc. The faith of all these stakeholders directly affects the reputation of a company. Winning trust for an organization is possible only when management and staff are discharging their responsibilities fairly. (Paliwal, 2006)

Some of the ethical concerns, a company, and its management face are pretty straightforward, where everyone knows clearly what is right or what is wrong. Some ethical decision-making approaches are easier to follow than others. With few exceptions, all ethical approaches will lead to the same conclusion: Do not lie, cheat or steal. However, not all ethical dilemmas a business face can be put in an obvious scale of morality and integrity, they are complicated and test an organization’s ethical practices in a best possible manner. (O'Sullivan, Smit, Esposito, 2012)

Large business houses should be organized into layers of management with clear authority and each employee should have a clear understanding of his/her responsibilities. They should share the code of ethics of the organization without any distraction. This case study, where a software company allegedly duping its customer by taking advantage of his ignorance, can be further evaluated in light of ICT Professional using the ACS Code of Ethics to protect the interests of customers and prevent business houses from malpractices.

The ICT can encourage organizations to practice transparency in conducting day-to-day affairs. Transparency of work ethics can enhance a company’s negotiating power. Businesses ethics have a strong impact on the functionality of a society. The aim of every business organizations is to maximize revenue and minimize cost. While pursuing this goal, some organizations forget to address ethical questions that arise from time-to-time. A company should be direct and open about its ethical policies. (Himma, Tavani, 2008)

Concerns for Business Ethics

The development of ICT has hugely impacted the functionality of our society. Even though this technology has some negative effects, it has benefited the business houses in numerous ways. An ethical way of working will help to address and minimize those adverse effects. One should encourage all members of society to access the benefits of ICT. (Adomi, 2011)

Decisions of a business organization regarding its affairs whether they are ethical practices or unethical ones never failed to touch the lives of its stakeholders. The underlying values and direction of big businesses have a huge impact on society. An organization should always conform to the Code of Ethics. The society wants its citizens to nurture ethical values and ideas that promote the honor, dignity, and effectiveness of the ICT Professional. In view of ACS Code of Ethics, the software company in this case study should have followed these ethical practices: (Australian Computer Society, 2014:p 5)

  • Place the interests of its customer above its own interest in making profits to gain trust from stakeholders and society.
  • Strive to improve the quality of life of those affected by its policies.
  • Pursue honesty and transparency while carrying out day-to-day tasks.
  • Achieve competency in areas that may affect the lives of its stakeholders.
  • Strive to inculcate professionalism in its staff so that always remain positive, honest, skilled and diligent in dealing with their responsibilities on behalf of the company.
  • Boost the integrity of the staff and management and the respect among each other.

Code of Conduct

The ACS Code of Ethics explains how it applies to a member's professional life. A member is required to uphold the essence of the Code of Conduct to settle vague or combative matters related to business ethics. The list of standards in ACS Code of Ethics is not necessarily exhaustive definite actions for any professional conduct faced by a member. The fact that a member practices the code of conduct or does not a guarantee in itself that he/she is behaving ethically in carrying out his/her responsibilities.

In this case study, we get to see that the Software Organization has disregarded almost all the standards set by the ECS Code of Ethics. It deliberately defied the business ethics that ensures provisions of goods and services matching the expectation of its clients and employers. To exercise ethical practice and the organization should start respecting and protecting its client’s financial interests. Adhering to the relevant standards and work ethics a company can build a lifelong relationship with its client based on mutual trust and honesty. The company should provide value for money to the client or customer for the services and products it supply.

Practicing standards set by ECS Code of Ethics will help the organization in the following ways: (The University of Western Australia)

  • Promote better understanding across various levels
  • Improve company standards and trustworthiness
  • Ethical practices help in the sustainability of the company
  • Encourages moral standards among the employees and it greatly helps in building the company’s relationship with a client or other stakeholders.
  • Offers uniform guidelines in carrying out the business

Business ethics at the workplace imply an alignment between the organization values and how to achieve them. Business ethics should be set and religiously followed without any deviations. The organization is accountable for its every conducts towards the society at large. Failing to meet the requirements of the stakeholder and the clients, the business of an organization will be greatly affected. If the crucial steps are not taken at the appropriate time then it can deliberately break down the organization.

Adhering to Code of Ethics and Standards in Business

Management plays a pivotal role in inculcating workplace conducts and ethics among employees. Seniors should set an example for their subordinates by conducting the day-to-day business transaction conforming to the ECS ethical standards. Employees also develop a feeling of affinity and loyalty towards the management and organization, if it values its stakeholders' interest too along with its own motives.

The ECS codes of conduct are business ethics that helps us in imparting good morality and how wicked action for personal gain should be avoided at any cost. Thus, an organization must uphold these code of ethics as a yardstick for running its business and not act like the one mentioned in this case study.

Ethics are a foundation for a long-term growth in a company. Organizations with good moral standards never defy these rules for temporary gains, they always based their conducts on a solid ethical footing. Thus, we can say that great companies reflects smart business practices and always conforms to the ethical norms and virtues while carrying out their regular activities to run their business. The organization should address the concerns and interest of its shareholders, suppliers, consumers, government, staff, partners, creditors, banks, and community etc. The level of trust that the stakeholders have in the organization affects the reputation of an organization. Winning trust for an organization is possible only when its management and staff are working morally while carrying out their responsibilities.

Business code of conducts protects the interest of consumers, clients, employees, small entrepreneurs, government, shareholders, creditors etc. A businessman should get proper education and guidance about business ethics as it is the basic framework for running any business properly. Business ethics are based on moral and social values and they construct the social, legal, financial, and other principles on which a business must operate. (American Bar Association, 2009) Honesty, the basis of ethics, helps us in reaching an agreement, whether that had to do with the hiring and treatment of employees or dealing with customers or other companies. Unlike the aforementioned software organization, no business should do cheat or lie to its stakeholders to stack money or fund their personal expenses from others pocket.  (Cafferky, 2015)

According to Aristotle, as knowledge and ethics are interrelated, a person must acquire appropriate knowledge and apply it wisely so that it complies to ethical standards. This includes knowledge about virtues and vices, as well as knowledge about the specific circumstances under consideration. The wisdom and excellent ethical judgment always depend on effective knowledge management in every situation of our life. (Morais da Costa, 2011)


With some exceptions the contemporary business ethics, ECS ethical standards are often seen in interpersonal, rational or cognitive dimensions. Here, the dilemma of choosing ethical conducts begins when a person encounters a situation, where the ethical choice may not bring him instant fame or money but it can put in a virtuous position where he can trust and confidence of others in a society. The person first tries to understand the moral standards that can be used to take a decision in a trying situation by looking deeply through the issues.

Thus we get to see that ECS Code of Ethics is like usual business ethics as both of them believes in the following guidelines to carry out its daily conducts:

  • One should not act as a swindler and trick one’s customer with measures such as rising price unnaturally, providing inferior quality service or goods, or secretly funding personal expenses from others finance, like in the case of the software organization in this study. (Das, p 28)
  • One should keep the healthy competitive environment that offers certain benefits to the consumers or customers.
  • One should maintain accuracy in the quality of supplying goods or services to the consumers or clients.
  • One should abstain from malicious business practices such as hoarding, cheating, selling of low-quality products or services to make profits.
  • One should honor the basic rights of the consumers and fair practices to uphold their interest so that they are also benefited from consuming the products or services. Moreover, the Code of Ethics discourages indulging in manipulative behavior with other business associates to influence price, distribution, quality etc. in an unethical manner. (Das, p 29)
  • Every business should remember that the main aim of its sustenance is to keep their customers content with the service and goods the business is providing. They should get proper value for their money. Below standard services or goods should not be sold at high prices. No organization can run profitably for a long time if entertain malpractices in their business activities. It is always recommended and safe for the employees to 'play by the rules'. Practicing good and justified conducts especially in financial matters allow the organization to gain trust and belongingness which is very crucial for the growth of any enterprise. Moreover, the communicating within the layers of hierarchies in a company should be transparent, honest, generous and beneficial for the society at large. When representing our organization, we must act with professionalism, loyalty, and sincerity, and conform to the highest ethical standards to earn the goodwill of our stakeholders. Our conduct should be perceived as genuine and equitable by the third party. (Das, p 31)

Thus we can see that the ECS Code of Ethics has stated the morality and ethics in such a simple manner that every business house big or small can understand them and conform to them in a best possible manner.

Vallance, E. (1995) Business Ethics At Work [online]. 1st Ed. United Kingdom:Cambridge University Press. Available from: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=2Bjc8iAnlMYC&lpg=PP1&dq=business%20ethics&pg=PA12#v=onepage&q=business%20ethics&f=false [Accessed 13 September 2018].

Adomi, E. (2011) Frameworks for ICT Policy: Government, Social and Legal Issues [online]. Hershey, USA:Information Science Reference. Available from: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=MSaEC_qkTJYC&lpg=PR1&dq=ICT-related%20ethical%20issue%20in%20business&pg=PR15#v=onepage&q=ICT-related%20ethical%20issue%20in%20business&f=true [Accessed 13 September 2018].

Cafferky, M. (2015) Business Ethics in Biblical Perspective [online]. USA:InterVarsity Press. Available from: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=QUKRBQAAQBAJ&lpg=PA1&dq=ICT-related%20ethical%20issue%20in%20business&pg=PA51#v=onepage&q&f=true [Accessed 13 September 2018].

Frederick, R. (1999) A companion to Business Ethics [online]. USA:Blackwell Publishing. Available from: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=3eQhbVAi4rwC&lpg=PP1&dq=business%20ethics&pg=PR14#v=onepage&q=business%20ethics&f=true [Accessed 13 September 2018].

Morais da Costa, G. (2011) Ethical Issues and Social Dilemmas in Knowledge Management: Organiational Innovation [online]. Hershey, USA:Information Science Reference. Available from: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=KB1IDmxDEpkC&lpg=PR15&dq=ICT-related%20ethical%20issue%20in%20business&pg=PR15#v=onepage&q=ICT-related%20ethical%20issue%20in%20business&f=true [Accessed 13 September 2018].

Himma, K. T. Tavani, H. (2008) The handbook of Information and Computer Ethics [online]. New Jersey, USA John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Available from: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=ZC7SDyPZUMoC&lpg=PA319&dq=ICT-related%20ethical%20issue%20in%20business&pg=PA319#v=onepage&q=ICT-related%20ethical%20issue%20in%20business&f=false [Accessed 13 September 2018].

The University of Western Australia. Australian Computer Society Code of Ethics

[online]. Available from: https://teaching.csse.uwa.edu.au/units/CITS3200/ethics/acs-ethics.htm [Accessed 13 September 2018].

Australian Computer Society, (2014). ACS Code of Professional Conduct [online]. Available from: https://www.acs.org.au/content/dam/acs/rules-and-regulations/Code-of-Professional-Conduct_v2.1.pdf [Accessed 13 September 2018].

O'Sullivan, P. Smit, M. Esposito, M. (2012) BUSINESS ETHICS A criticle approach: integrating ethics across the business world [online]. 1st Ed. NewYork, USA:Routledge. Available from: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=6UyJz4-eIJ4C&lpg=PP1&dq=business%20ethics&pg=PA350#v=onepage&q=business%20ethics&f=false [Accessed 13 September 2018].

Malachowski, A. (2001) Business Ethics: Critical Perspectives on Business and Management [online]. 1st Ed. New York, USA: Routledge. Available from: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=Xy9ti38gOIoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=business+ethics&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwib8YTprbbdAhWMV7wKHXNUDYMQ6AEIQzAF#v=onepage&q=business%20ethics&f=false [Accessed 13 September 2018].

Paliwal, M. (2006) Business Ethics [online]. 1st Ed. New Delhi, India:New Age International. Available from: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=g8buVWaChdcC&printsec=frontcover&dq=business+ethics&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwib8YTprbbdAhWMV7wKHXNUDYMQ6AEISDAG#v=onepage&q=business%20ethics&f=false [Accessed 13 September 2018].

Dr. Das, A. Managing Business Ethics & Compliance [online]. New Delhi, India:Educreation Publication. Availble from: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=vCqvDgAAQBAJ&lpg=PP1&dq=business%20ethics&pg=PA25#v=onepage&q=business%20ethics&f=false [Accessed 13 September 2018].

American Bar Association. (2009) Model rules of Professional Conduct [online]. 9th Ed. Illinois, USA: American Bar Association. Available from: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=5CO0DfckOzgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=business+ethics+towards+out+clients&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwirhsLEt7bdAhXFwrwKHfpQC64Q6AEIKjAA#v=onepage&q&f=false [Accessed 13 September 2018].

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