Ethics in Business

by Simon Webley

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Other topics

Corporate Social Responsibility

Spirit at Work

Trust in the Workplace

Vision and Mission

Issues related to business ethics:

Bullying and Harassment


Drugs and Alcohol

Health & Safety

Workplace Wellness

Work Life Balance


Business ethics: managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalisation

Andrew Crane and Dirk Matten, OUP Oxford, March 2010, 624 pages

This is a lively and engaging textbook covering the foundations of business ethics and applying these theories, concepts and tools to each of a corporation’s major stakeholders. The text features lots of case studies and vignettes.

The ethical organisation: ethical theory and corporate behaviour

Alan Kitson and Robert Campbell, MacMillan Business, January 1996, 268 pages

This book employs a rigorous approach to the analysis of difficult issues and problems through an exposition and application of applied ethical theories. It includes European case studies from the field of business ethics and a discussion of ethics and the individual manager.

Ethics in organisations

David J Murray, The Fast Track MBA Series, Kogan Page, June 1997, 160 pages

This book takes a practical, down-to-earth approach to the subject. It shows how managers can approach the ethical dilemmas they face in a complex world. The book covers both top-level policy and strategic decision-making, and also the day-to-day concerns of people working at all levels in an organisation. It demonstrates how ethical policies can be developed and implemented and includes case studies, practical exercises and checklists.

Selected publications by the Institute of Business Ethics

Developing a code of business ethics: a guide to best practice, including the IBE illustrative code of business ethics

Simon Webley, Institute of Business Ethics, October 2003, 56 pages

Producing a code of business ethics helps companies to understand and address ethical issues across their organisations. This publication shows how codes offer invaluable guidance for employees on how to behave and how to make positive decisions in complex circumstances.

Making business ethics work: the foundations of effective embedding

Simon Webley, Institute of Business Ethics, October 2006, 48 pages

This report is an examination of the experience of UK companies, recent surveys and research revealing what can be done to improve the efficacy of ethics programmes.

Living up to our values: developing ethical assurance

Nicole Dando and Walter Raven, Institute of Business Ethics, December 2006, 88 pages

The premise of this report is that an ethical assurance programme will provide boards with that confidence and assist in safeguarding the integrity, reputation and sustainability of their organisation. It provides a practical framework for approaching the assurance of ethical performance against an organisation’s own code of ethics. It is intended as an aid to the development of good practice in a field that is still developing.

Setting the tone: ethical business leadership

Philippa Foster Back, Institute of Business Ethics, March 2005, 72 pages

Business ethics will never be taken seriously unless the ethical tone is set from the top. Leadership is essential to business ethics, as ethical qualities are essential to good leadership. This report by Philippa Foster Back demonstrates that business leaders should consider ethical competence as a core part of their business acumen. It provides guidance to those wishing to build a culture of trust and accountability and strengthen the ethical aspirations of their organisation. Setting the Tone includes interviews with business leaders, offering practical insights into ethical leadership issues.

IBE good practice guide 1: speak up procedures

Drawing on the experiences of international and UK companies, Speak Up Procedures outlines why organisations need to encourage and support staff to make enquiries on ethical issues, raise concerns and report misconduct; it provides guidance on what to consider when establishing a Speak Up policy and the procedures to implement it. It suggests how to operate the policy effectively, from providing training to handling and investigating calls to Speak Up lines.


More IBE publications can be found on:

Newsletters and ethics journals

Business ethics organisations

Selected ethics standards and guidelines for corporations

GoodCorporation – the GoodCorporation standard

The GoodCorporation Standard aims to help organisations develop, manage and monitor their corporate responsibilities. Based on a set of core principles, the Standard covers practices towards employees, suppliers, customers, and providers of finance, as well as community and environmental impacts.

UN Global Compact

The UN Global Compact is a voluntary corporate citizenship initiative. Its principles are rooted in international conventions and address human rights, labour standards, environment and corruption.

OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises

These guidelines are recommendations for responsible business conduct proposed by governments to multinational enterprises operating in or from the countries that adhere to the guidelines. The guidelines cover a broad range of issues, including employment and industrial relations, human rights, environment, information disclosure, competition, taxation and science and technology.

Ethical Trading Initiative – ETI base code

The purpose of ETI is to identify, develop and promote good practice with respect to implementing codes of labour practice. The ETI base code is based on international conventions and human rights declarations and refers to forced labour, working conditions, pay, child labour, discrimination and so on.

Social Accountability International – SA8000 Standard

SA8000 is an international standard for socially responsible employment practices, based on ILO (international labour) conventions. Its code of practice is broken down into nine key areas: child labour, forced labour, health and safety, freedom of association and collective bargaining, discrimination, disciplinary practices, working hours, compensation and management systems.

AccountAbility – AA1000 frameworks

The AA1000 is a process standard for social and ethical accounting, auditing and reporting, and for improving the quality of stakeholder engagements. Its underlying principles are inclusivity, materiality, completeness and responsiveness.

Global Reporting Initiative – reporting guidelines

The GRI’s mission is to develop and disseminate globally applicable Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. The guidelines propose three areas of performance indicators: economic (direct and indirect impacts), environmental (for example, use of materials and energy) and social (labour practices, human rights, society, product responsibility).

Other useful references

  • Complete guide to ethics management, C McNamara, 1999:
  • International Business Ethics: Values in Tension: Ethics Away from Home, T Donaldson, Harvard Business Review Sep-Oct 1996.


You can also contact the author directly: Simon Webley