About Business Ethics

What is Business Ethics?

Business Ethics refers to the value structure that guide individuals in the decision making process when they are faced with a dilemma of how to behave within their business or professional lives. Usually the impact of that decision will be felt only in their immediate, organizational environment.

 

What is Social Responsibility?

Social Responsibility is the term given to policy decisions that are made by organizations that have an impact on society at large. Issues such as pollution, public policy, poverty, education and the national health system are included in the term social responsibility. It is a strategic initiative established by the leadership of organizations to comply with legal requirements, ensure respect for people, communities and the environment.

 

What is Unique About Jewish Business Ethics?

1. Judaism recognizes that self-interest plays a major (but not sole) role in ensuring ethical standards. The principles of “Do not do unto others as you would not like done to yourself” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” offer the positive and negative aspects of this principle.

2. Unlike other traditions, Judaism has never viewed poverty as a virtue. Wealth, however, has always been seen as a challenge. Judaism places many social and charitable responsibilities on the financially stronger elements within society and emphasizes the need to prevent exploitation of the weak.

3. Moral business behavior encourages long lasting and successful business relationships and loyal customers. Judaism adds though that the imperative of integrity demands honesty even when it is contrary to business advantage.

4. Judaism recognizes that ethics can only exist where there is an effective and respected legal infrastructure. Ethics however go beyond law and can be defined as – “Obedience to the unenforceable.”

5. Greed, while being an important motivation for economic activity, is also a source for unethical behavior. Added to this, the uncertainty that is part of life urges us to believe that “More is better than less”, which further stimulates unethical behavior. Judaism presents an “economics of enough” that restrains both of these factors.

For a more comprehensive look at Jewish business ethics, visit our Online Library and Resource Center.