If you think the central Christian principle — do unto others as you would have them do unto you — lacks relevance in the world of business, think again. Ethics has an important place in business and, in many cases, underpins commercial success. Here are reasons why moral standing is relevant to business and why teaching ethics has an important place in business education.

Businesses Need Ethics

Good ethics and principles are valuable in business. People may think businesses only want to make money. While that is a key focus, a business that doesn’t practice good ethics or follow principles will most likely will end up failing due to its own greed and selfishness. Some huge businesses have gone bankrupt when their customers learned they were acting in ways that were unethical or flat-out illegal.

For examples of companies that suffered due to poor ethics and a lack of principles, look at corporations like Enron or Worldcom — gigantic companies that appeared willing to lie, cheat and steal in order to make a profit. They didn’t believe in ethics or follow any faith-relevant principles and suffered dire consequences.

Key Principles to Follow

Ultimately, a business that believes it should do good instead of harm is a business with principles and ethics. What are some of the key principles and ethics a business should believe in, beyond the normal success principles that are commonly taught?

Well, honesty is an obvious one. A business that is honest about its successes as well as its failures knows that, “The truth will set you free.”

Having integrity and being loyal to customers/investors is another important aspect. Putting the customer first and being open and transparent with them shows that a business knows that, without its customers or investors, it is nothing. A business should view those who utilise it as an important resource to nurture and support, not something to exploit and toss aside.

Fairness is key. It shows to clients and customers that a business doesn’t want to, “Bend the rules,” or do anything that puts others at a wrongful disadvantage just to, “Get ahead,” in its field. Good human resources management is about ensuring staff are treated fairly, which boosts morale, job attachment and, ultimately, productivity.

All of this is a part of a business being law-abiding and accountable. A business that is willing to do anything illegal at the end of the day clearly lacks ethics or principles and will never be accountable for where it went wrong.

Exemplary Businesses

Talking about business ethics and principles is all well and good but what are some companies that actually put these concepts into practice? Some companies known for being exceptionally ethical include, but are not limited to, Starbucks, UPS, PepsiCo and Xerox. These businesses are known for putting a focus on the well-being of not only their customers and investors, but employees who work there as well as the environment.

Companies such as these comply with rules and regulations, work to be responsible and truthful, and have a reputation for doing good. Companies such as these strive to follow core values and principles even if doing so can make them less of a profit in the short term. They know that if getting extra money comes at the expense of their ethics, it is money that is NOT worth making.

Ethics and Principals Deliver Success

When it comes to business ethics and principles, it isn’t being idealistic to say that businesses with strong ethics and principles have more success in the long-run. Corporations that break the law, mistreat employees, or otherwise behave terribly eventually end-up bankrupt — even if, in the short-term, they had immense success.

Businesses that know to be ethical and follow their principles often end up lasting a long time and being beloved by those who use the business and/or work for it. Business ethics and principles aren’t only morally right, they end up being the smartest choice for sustainable corporate success.