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Business Ethics: Succeeding in the “Worthiness Era”

Operating with sound moral judgment is a good business decision, because consumers prefer companies with strong ethical values.

What are “Business Ethics”?

“Business ethics” is a broad term that defines “good” versus “bad” behavior in business. More specifically, the phrase encompasses policies and practices regarding controversial issues such as corporate governance, insider trading, bribery, discrimination, corporate social responsibility and fiduciary responsibilities.

The Worthiness Era

Today, consumers are showing a preference toward companies that treat their employees, customers and communities fairly. They are demanding that companies show increased responsibility to others and to the planet. The rise in demand for products produced by ethically sound businesses is being referred to as the “Worthiness Era,” a term coined in the book “Good Company.”

There are many reasons for the public’s increased concern for ethical companies, including: “increased trade globalization, consumers who want holistic experiences, greater public concern for economic security, worries about environmental issues and climate change, more stringent regulations, shareholder activism, and workplace democracy” (Accel5 Business Book Summary: Bassie, 2012).

Organizations that are seen as “worthy” by consumers behave in ways that are honorable – they do what is ethical not only to influence public perception but also because it is ingrained within the company culture. In short, “They do the right thing without first being asked” (Accel5 Business Book Summary: Bassie, 2012).

The Business Benefits of Ethics

When a company is able to gain the trust of consumers through social, environmental and politically responsible practices, it is better poised to succeed in the long run. Trust in corporations has been steadily decreasing for at least 40 years due to continual scandals that are covered heavily by the media and spread across the internet (Accel5 Business Book Summary: Weiss, 2013). Today, when a company makes an ethical misstep, everyone will know about it. Thus, a company that acts with integrity and remains consistent will gain the trust of consumers and will truly stand out.

Today, consumers are showing a preference toward companies that treat their employees, customers and communities fairly.


An investment in good business ethics is imperative to succeeding with today’s socially and environmentally conscious consumers. Companies that operate with integrity are able to attract and retain loyal customers and employees. If you can remain loyal to your business’s ethics, you will see a return on your investment.

Building an ethically sound business culture begins at the top. As a leader, you must develop your own set of personal morals and use them to guide you when making important decisions. As a company, you must ensure that your employees are well-versed on your organization’s ethics and mission.

Learn More

Download EBSCO’s free white paper that provides research on the ROI of ethical businesses, real-life case studies and a plan to get your organization on the path to moral management.

Additionally, EBSCO’s corporate learning platform, Accel5™, features resources to help you and your employees explore business ethics best practices. Refine your skills with business book summaries, videos and articles – all designed to be consumed in five minutes or less.

Cited References

1.Bassie, Laurie, et al. “Good Company.” EBSCO Industries, Inc., Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc, 3 Oct. 2012, www.accel-5.com/learn/article/good-company.
2.Staff, Investopedia. “Business Ethics.” Investopedia, Investopedia, 9 June 2016, www.investopedia.com/terms/b/business-ethics.asp.
3.Weiss, Scott. “Dare.” EBSCO Industries, Inc., Greenleaf Book Group Press, 11 Dec. 2013, www.accel-5.com/learn/article/dare.

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