The principles of business ethics | How to adapt a responsible approach to management


As an impactful business school, adopting a responsible approach to business management is essential, for both the institution and its students alike.

In this article, we discuss the key principles of business ethics, and how these impact an institution’s approach to responsible management, from integrating social responsibility into your curriculum to partnering with responsible businesses.

At the Business Graduates Association, responsible management is one of the main core pillars of BGA’s vision. Our goal is to be the leading global movement for responsible management, positive impact and lifelong learning.To learn more about BGA, please visit here.

What does business ethics mean?

Business ethics refers to the principles and values that guide the behaviour of business organisations and the individuals within them on a global scale. It encompasses a range of considerations including honesty, respect for human rights, social responsibility and sustainability.

Why are ethics important in business?

Not only do ethics help business schools develop future leaders and build trust with students, alumni and employers, but they can also help prepare students for the real world.

Additional reasons why ethics are important in the world of business education include:

Address social and environmental challenges

Business schools have a responsibility to address the social and environmental challenges facing society.

By ensuring the MBA curriculum features business ethics, institutions can promote sustainable business practices, assisting students in understanding the impact of business on society and the environment.

Foster innovation

By encouraging students to think creatively and make ethical decisions, business schools can help students create innovative solutions to complex challenges in the business realm.

Ensure compliance

Efficient business schools will acknowledge their responsibility for ensuring graduates comply with ethical standards in the workplace. By teaching students about the importance of good business ethics, institutions can help build trust by demonstrating their commitment to business ethics and sustainability.

Prepare students for the future

Ethical challenges in the workplace are incredibly common. Teaching business ethics can assist students in forming an understanding of the ethical dilemmas they may face throughout their careers and provide them with the tools required to manage these situations effectively.

Encourage lifelong learning

Business schools can encourage lifelong learning by teaching their students to think critically in a range of situations. By incorporating business ethics and sustainability into the curriculum, institutions can help students develop a lifelong commitment to learning and self-improvement.

Contribute to a better society
Accredited business schools have a responsibility to contribute to a better society. By promoting good business ethics, schools can assist in creating a business culture that values society as a whole, rather than an individual asset.

The evolution of business ethics

Since emerging as a concept in the early 20th century, business ethics have evolved greatly thanks to various social, economic and political changes. Initially coming into view as a means to approach worker exploitation and poor working conditions, business ethics became a more formalised field of study in the mid-20th century.

The 21st century has witnessed a growing emphasis on the importance of ethical leadership in business, driven by high-profile corporate scandals and financial crises. Nowadays, the field of business ethics continues to evolve, with a growing focus on diversity and inclusion.

Key principles of business ethics

Integrity – refers to being honest in all business dealings, even in the face of making difficult decisions.
Fairness – treating all stakeholders fairly – including the avoidance of discrimination, exploitation and unfair practices.
Responsibility – taking responsibility for the impact of business activities on society and the environment.
Respect for human rights – including the right to dignity, privacy and non-discrimination.
Transparency – being accountable in all business dealings – this involves being open about business practices and decisions and addressing unethical behaviour.
Compliance with laws – this involves following the law and regulations in all business activities, as well as upholding ethical standards that go beyond requirements.

Business school membership | Promoting good business ethics within institutions around the globe

BGA believes that business schools should strive to innovate beyond conventional means.

As a member institution of the BGA network, your business school will have the opportunity to pursue BGA validation, an offsite assessment of a business schools’ ability to meet the BGA Charter, built upon the nine pillars that would demonstrate continuous improvement, quality and responsible management practices of an institution. BGA validation serves as a great way to prepare schools that are new to business school accreditation. Learn more about BGA validation here.

Read more Business Impact articles related to
professional development:

Business Impact Volume 17 (3: 2023)

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Business Impact


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