Business Ethics and Sustainable Practice

Wesarat, Yazam, and Majid (2017) asserts that ethics provide a fundamental guideline for business organization practices as it defines what is “right” and “wrong.” Ethical practices help businesses to take ethical actions and make ethical decisions. (Wesarat, Yazam and Majid 2017). On the one hand, sustainable practice entails business practices that are socially responsible, economically practical, and environmentally welcoming (Bocken, Short, Rana, and Evans 2014).

Business Ethics

Business ethics covers ethical values, including responsibility, honesty, and integrity shared by organization teams (Ferrell and Fraedrich, 2015). It creates a framework for which the business can recognize its existence’s social nature, positive and negative impacts on its environment (Wang and Calvano 2015, p 591). An example of business ethics is when an organization applies moral rules to define how best to treat employees, customers, and shareholders. Such include showing respect to employees, customers, and shareholders, providing genuine apologies, and even compensating when anything backfires (Dubois, Rucker and Galinsky, 2015, p 436). Displaying a lack of respect for the customers and employees discourage them from attracting with a business, lowering the organization’s reputation. It also significantly damage employees’ morale, resulting in increased turnover (Goodpaster 2015 p 6). Business ethics requires an organization’s effort through ethical strategies and visions. Therefore, business organizations should have an ethical, strategic plan, which spells out and protect the interest of all the stakeholders (Weiss 2014.).

Business ethics helps the business organization approach ethical challenges methodically and with better understanding, making changes where necessary for the better (Painter, Hibbert, and Cooper, 2019). There are fundamental normative ethical theories that apply and affect business ethics. The “consequentialist theories” denoted by egoism and the “utilitarianism and the non-consequentialist” represented by Kant’s moral rights and categorical imperative models, as illustrated in figure 1 below. 

Figure 1: Normative Ethical Theories for Business

Ethics begins with the top leadership of the business organization since moral reasoning at the topmost level of universal principles requires leadership, with the management leading and setting example. As illustrated in figure 1, the egoism principle focuses on the long-term interest of the organization at the expense of society’s well-being. It may not promote workplace harmony and collaborative culture necessary to achieve more outstanding results (Guerci et al. 2015). Utilitarianism theory approaches business issues from the perspective of “greatest happiness of all constitutes,” promoting the well-being and welfare of every stakeholder (Christians, Fackler, Richardson and Kreshel, 2020, p 23).

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However, the study shows that utilitarianism can be erroneously applied as an excuse for dependency on other people and overreliance on systems, reducing an individual urge to be the best. Nevertheless, because business organizations are comprised of individuals working collaboratively to achieve organizational goals, it is practical to embrace utilitarianism as the policy for promoting welfare, setting objectives while putting in place attractive methods of solving conflicts of individuals’ self-interests (Christians, Fackler, Richardson and Kreshel, 2020, p 25).

Kant’s ethical theory, from the study, is much more acceptable because of its emphasis on absolute moral truth, which must be free from internal flaws such as actions from the principle, and be rationally consistent (Walla, 2015, p 732; Vaha, 2017, p 87). A business must act with moral worth. Kant’s theory adds a humanistic facet to a business organization by respecting people’s inherent value and dignity (Vaughn 2015, p 38). Actions and decisions are based on moral principles with a sense of duty.

Sustainable Practice

A Sustainable practice dictates that a business should not only be interested in satisfying the needs of shareholders, such as through an increase in profit. Still, it must also protect other stakeholders (DesJardins and McCall, 2014), including respecting the environment and human rights. Sustainability is commonly accepted as satisfying the current generation’s needs and requirements without compromising the chance or the ability of the future generation to meet their needs (Gosling, Jia, Gong, and Brown, 2016, p 1559).

There is more education on the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) to promote the sustainable business practice. Sustainability is all about the increasingly widespread “green approach” to business practices (Rexhepi, Kurtishi, and Bexheti 2013, p 533). The term has grown in popularity and is a widely used slogan for “green business practices” integrated into many corporate strategies (Shum and Yam, 2011, p 567).  An example of sustainable business practice is the organizations’ effort to conserve the environment, including cutting emissions to the environment, stopping pollution, lowering energy usage, and adopting green-certified materials, including office products (Chi, 2011, p 848). A business can invest in carbon dioxide (CO2) decrease projects such as planting trees and encouraging employees to use green transport such as electric trains instead of air transport.

Technocentrism is an example of a theory that explains how technology can be adapted to drive sustainable business practices. Technocentrism principle implies a value system that is centered and focused on the use of technology and its aptitude to control and conserve the environment (Bailey and Wilson, 2009). Technocentrics believe in technology and hold a firm belief that humans have absolute control over nature. They either protect or destroy it (Brennan, 2015, p 289).  Emerging technologies and concepts such as electric trains, electric vehicles, green energy, including solar energy and green supply chain management, are approaches by businesses towards sustainable development (Bailey and Caprotti, 2014, p 1797).


 Business ethics emphasizes on morally acceptable business practice. Business ethics requires an organization’s effort through ethical visions and strategies. Sustainable business practice is concerned with satisfying both the current generation’s needs while also minding about the future. Emerging technologies such as green energy and green supply chain are an example of sustainable business practices.


Bailey, I. and Caprotti, F., 2014. The green economy: functional domains and theoretical directions of inquiry. Environment and Planning A46(8), pp.1797-1813.

Bailey, I. and Wilson, G.A., 2009. Theorizing transitional pathways in response to climate change: technocentrism, ecocentrism, and the carbon economy. Environment and Planning A41(10), pp.2324-2341.

Bocken, N. M., Short, S. W., Rana, P., & Evans, S. (2014). A literature and practice review to develop sustainable business model archetypes. Journal of cleaner production, 65, 42-56.

Brennan, K., 2015. Beyond technocentrism. Constructivist Foundations10(3), pp.289-296.

Chi, T., 2011. Building a sustainable supply chain: an analysis of corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices in the Chinese textile and apparel industry. Journal of the Textile Institute102(10), pp.837-848.

Christians, C.G., Fackler, M., Richardson, K.B., and Kreshel, P., 2020. Media ethics: Cases and moral reasoning. Routledge.

DesJardins, J.R., and McCall, J.J., 2014. Contemporary issues in business ethics. Cengage Learning.

Dubois, D., Rucker, D.D., and Galinsky, A.D., 2015. Social class, power, and selfishness: When and why upper and lower class individuals behave unethically. Journal of personality and social psychology108(3), p.436.

Ferrell, O.C., and Fraedrich, J., 2015. Business ethics: Ethical decision making & cases. Nelson Education. Goodpaster, K.E., 2015. Business ethics. Wiley Encyclopedia of Management, p