Business Ethics

What is business ethics? All businesses big or small have codes of conducts and ethics which all employees need to abide by. In most instances the employees within the organization tend to bend these rules. This can either make or break a department. Employees in the organization need to consider that these codes have been put in place not to rule us but to guide us.

There is a difference between guiding and ruling people. Employees need to understand the difference and the reason for a manager or team leader’s actions. They need to consider that the management team takes a lot of strain form heads and CEO’s (Chief Executive Officer) of the department. They are the ones that need to answer as to why the individual did not follow the correct process or guidelines set out by the business.

Business Management Project Solutions would like to propose that the code of ethics and conduct be communicated to your employees on a quarterly basis. This is to ensure that they fully understand and comply with guidelines set out by the organization.

Ethical Challenges

“South African manager’s today find themselves squeezed between juxtapositions, such as international competition and simultaneous skill development programmes to combat illiteracy.” (Maritz, 2002.)

This could be since the education system in South Africa is not up to international standards, or there is no standard at all. Think of the fact that government keeps on reducing the pass rate to get students to pass grades and advance. School is one of the phases in every person’s life where ethical values are learnt. These students get the impression that they do not need to work hard to get what they want. This leaves school leavers with the idea that they now have a matric certificate and they can just get any job.

There have been negative aspects to this as no company will employ an individual with a low pass rate. They have seen that these students do not know basic Mathematics, English or general reading and verbal communication. Call centers are known as an entry level form of employment. Today, companies require you to have a Degree of some sort to be employed in the call center. How can you possibly employ an individual who cannot read, write and communicate in Basic English? How would your clientele react to the fact that an illiterate individual is dealing with their million-dollar accounts?

“Affirmative action has led to troublesome labour relations.” (Maritz, 2002.)One of the other challenges in the country is the fact that people are hired based on their gender, age and most importantly race. With inequality being a burning issue in South Africa due to the apartheid era, government has implemented laws such as BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) and Affirmative Action. These laws “force” organizations to hire more people of colour than white. These people are then placed in managerial and CEO (Chief Executive Officer) positions. In most cases these individuals do not have Degrees or basic education. The ethical practice is to award the position to the most qualified and knowledgeable candidate regardless of race or gender.

“Towards the end of the 1990s there was growing discontent amongst the black community about the effectiveness of the strategy. The concern was that it only benefitted a select few black people in the country – generally those who were politically connected. It was cynically dubbed ‘Black Elite Enrichment’.” (Irwin, 2011.)

Look at our government. Now with all the scandal surrounding the Gupta family and their influence they have on the country things are not looking very good. Take the former and newly appointed CEO of Eskom as an example. He resigned from Eskom and became a MP (Member of Parliament). He was to receive a thirty-million-rand pension payout, which was deemed unethical by the constitutional court. So, because he could not receive his “golden handshake” he is now re-appointed as the CEO of Eskom? This clearly shows the disregard of the public. Further to this you have NERSA (National Energy Regulator of South Africa) who is forced to increase the cost of electricity to fund the large salaries these executives are to receive.

Impact on your Organization

“It has been reported that JSE (Johannesburg Stock Exchange) listed banks have lost R86 billion of their market capitalization due to Pravin Gordhan’s dismissal as South Africa’s Minister of Finance.” (Nedu. 2017.)

The impact these unethical actions have on the organization is of excellent value. We have investors (local and international), who move their money to other countries where labour ethical governance is practiced. Think of the unethical removal of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan. This was the reason that the ratings agencies downgraded the country to Junk Status.

If we hire illiterate people to work in our professional organization, we may as well close our business. We cannot employ an individual who does not know how to do basic Mathematics. How are they going to work on a client’s account and calculate interest charges, balances, etc.? These individuals who were basically pushed through school with low results might cause more harm than good. They could end up causing disruptions in the organization as they do not know how to reason or work hard to get what they want.

We cannot place an individual in a senior decision-making position who does not meet the criteria. Therefore, most organizations suffer as the people in power may not be competent enough to handle the position. They placed there for the company to comply with BEE and Affirmative Action policies. Now you sit with a situation where some companies would rather run the risk of not complying with these policies and select a candidate based on experience and qualifications.Your business ensures that only the best candidate is selected for the post. They also ensure that they comply with the necessary policies set out by government regarding inequality and transformation.


Business Management Project Solutions recommends that organizations continue to employ only the best and qualified candidates. We also need to consider that some student’s finishing school do not have the funding to attend universities. It is for this reason the author suggests that the organization employ people with excellent results directly from school. This provides empowerment as these students can now take up bursary applications through the organization.

Should the organization provide these opportunities to hard working and deserving students, they will never have a shortage of qualified individuals to promote within the business. Now it will not be based only on gender and race but rather years of service, qualifications and experience. We would be able to instill ethical and corporate values into these individuals from an early age.

If government wants equality within the country then it needs to start at the grass root level, which is school. With increasing the pass rate requirement, students are therefore encouraged to learn and work harder. This allows them to understand that life after school is ten times harder.

In conclusion BM Project Solutions believes (in a perfect world), that for a business to succeed it needs to be ethical in its dealings. We need to work together to ensure that we remove any corrupt dealings from the organization and start instilling ethical values in all our employees. Management is therefore also required to make sure that they are more proactive with their employees. Managers need to take the first step in leading and guiding their employees. The first step in the authors’ opinion would be to go through the necessary code of conduct and ethics with the employees. This will ensure that all staff members are well informed of the rules within the organization. They are also aware of the dismissal process and the implication of the process.


Michael Joseph

Business Management Project Solutions.