The Columbia Encyclopedia (2003) defines business ethics as the study and evaluation of decision making by businesses according to moral concepts and judgments. Issues involved in ethical business decisions include a company's obligation to be honest with its customers, a company's responsibility to preserve the environment and the protection of employee rights. Ethical conflicts arise due to the differences in the interests of company owners, workers, customers, and the community wherein which the business operates. The dilemma for managers is how to balance the need to produce profits for shareholders with honest business practices, safety in the workplace, and environmental and social concerns. The globalization of businesses and diversity in the workplace have also contributed to the complication of ethical issues because of different government laws that define the limits of criminal behavior. Practices which are deemed as bribery, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and lack of concern for the environment, may be held as criminal in one country but are neither illegal nor unethical or unusual in another. The company must then decide whether to adhere to its traditional ethical principles or not, especially if this provides opportunities for maximizing profits.
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