Ethical Business Communications

25 11 2010

When communicating with any audience through any medium, there are only two types of basic communication: ethical and unethical.  Ethical communication is very simply being entirely honest in one’s communication (Bovée & Thill 6).  To break this down further it means not telling a white lie to soften a blow or distorting facts to making the information seem an easier pill to swallow.  The information is the presenter’s own or used with permission and acknowledgement of the author (Bovée & Thill 6).

Businesses build upon their reputation and their reputation is strengthened by how well consumers can trust the company (Howe).  If an organization permits their managers or other employees to behave in methods that are dishonest, but achieve the desired goals, that words will eventually make it to the end user and potential clients.  And given the amount of businesses as of late, such as AIG, which have fallen due to dishonesty, customers are being more selective in who they do business with and trying to find assurance that the business they choose is ethically responsible.

One such example is in dealing with a company for which this author once worked.  During economic struggles, the business decided to practice what is known in the industry as weight-out, where the bag size is unchanged for snacks such as potato chips, and yet the quantity is reduced by a few ounces.  The price is unchanged and the consumer is not made aware that they are now paying the same amount for less goods.  When the consumer finally noticed, they felt deceived and were not at all hesitant to contact the business to express their disdain for such measures.  Once the media made this public knowledge, sales of the entire product line (even products that were not changed) fell by over 10%.  This was a painful monetary repercussion due to an unethical action by the business, not because they told customers a lie, but because they failed to communicate to their customers in an ethically responsible manner.

Businesses can only survive by having customers to service, and customers will only give their business to an organization that they can trust.  Ethical communication, even when the news is not favorable, will always insure that customers know they can count on the truth from such a business.  It is for these reasons that companies must be certain to provide facts which are not distorted, not omit crucial elements of their information, and be forthright with the very people who sign their paychecks.  To communicate in any other manner is unethical and risks the business suffering in their reputation and finances as a result.

Works Cited

Bovée, Courtland L. & Thill, John V. “Understanding Business Communication in Today’s Workplace.”  Communication In The Business Office. 2009:6-7.


Howe, Michelle.  “Five Guidelines For Ethical Business Communications.”  December 2008.











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