What Are the Most Common Ethical Issues in Business?

Ethical Issues in Business

Any business owner has had to deal with challenging and unforeseen ethical issues in their operations. Unfortunately, just because your intentions are pure, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your management method is also ethical. You need to comply with discrimination laws and ensure that you’re not compromising employee morale. 

What Are the Main Business Ethics Topics?

In general, ethical dilemmas in business encompass a wide range of scenarios. Some of these issues involve misconduct that damages trust and integrity. However, more complex problems involve neglecting empathetic decision-making and diversity. The 2020 Global Business Ethics Survey revealed that 49% of employees felt that their leaders lacked the commitment to their organization’s values and ethical standards.

Before you understand how to address moral dilemmas in the workplace, you need to know what they look like. In this post, we’re going to discuss the most common examples of ethical issues in business. Knowing how to identify the early signs of these problems can ensure that they will be addressed before they become big. This way, you can focus on growing your business instead of resolving legal troubles.

Sexual Harassment

Ethical Issues in Business - Sexual Harassment

One of the most common ethical issues in the workplace is sexual harassment. If you don’t understand the gravity of this problem, then you should start reading about the #MeToo Movement. Of course, there are various kinds of harassment in the workplace. However, with the significance of this issue, it deserves to be addressed on its own.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported that in 2019, there were more than 7,500 allegations of sexual harassment. Meanwhile, a Pew Research Center survey finds that 59% of women and 27% of men say they have been sexually harassed in the workplace. These sexual advances, either verbal or physical, were committed both in and outside of corporate settings. These figures illustrate current challenges in creating a safe environment for employees.

Sexual harassment can be prevented by educating employees about this issue. Moreover, management must enforce a zero-tolerance policy against harassment to ensure that everyone will follow the rules. Leaders should set a good example in the workplace, and HR should have a system for monitoring inappropriate behavior. What’s more, there shouldn’t be a stigma attached to coming forward and reporting sexual harassment. Individuals should not have fears of retaliation for reporting abuse.


Ethical Issues in Business - Discrimination

Discrimination happens when employees receive unfair treatment when it comes to advancement opportunities, hiring, retention, and other corporate practices. Among the most serious ethical issues related to discrimination is the gender wage gap. This is a practice wherein a woman receives a lower salary than a man despite them having the same experience and skill levels. Other forms of discrimination involve depriving individuals of advancement opportunities due to their race or ethnicity. The EEOC has laws that protect a person from employment discrimination when it involves

  • unfair treatment due to color, race, national origin, religion, gender orientation, genetic information, or age (40 years or older); 
  • harassment by colleagues, managers, and other people in the workplace because of sex, including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation; 
  • denial of a reasonable workplace change that a person needs because of their disability or religious beliefs;
  • inappropriate questions about or disclosure of a person’s medical history or genetic information; and
  • retaliation related to a person complaining about workplace discrimination or assisting with discrimination-related proceedings like lawsuits or investigations.

To address ethical issues related to discrimination, managers must educate employees about unacceptable behavior in the workplace. This way, everyone knows about the rules and the consequences of not following them. Moreover, there should be a diversity training and hiring program in the workplace. When there are more people from different backgrounds, you can bring a variety of perspectives into the office. After all, building a diverse workforce is an effective way to fight corporate discrimination.

Health and Safety

Ethical Issues in Business - Health and Safety

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2019, there were 5,333 fatal work injuries in the country. An American Society of Safety Engineers survey also revealed that occupational accidents can be expensive too. The study found that for every dollar that goes directly to accidents, there are another three to five dollars of indirect expenses. Medical compensation can cost somewhere between $45,000 to $75,000. Just by looking at these figures, you understand how important it is to address health and safety issues in the workplace.

When you search online, you will find plenty of research done on addressing ethical issues related to occupational health and safety. For instance, the World Health Organization provided tips related to this subject:

  • Have regular workplace inspections to ensure that all potential hazards are identified and addressed. 
  • Conduct training seminars to ensure that employees are aware of the safety protocols.
  • Encourage employees to have a healthy lifestyle by organizing wellness programs and stocking the kitchen with healthy snacks and drinks. 
  • Let people know that they can approach management if they need help.
  • Recognize and reward individuals for their hard work.
  • Open opportunities for learning and growth.
  • Periodically conduct meetings with workers to understand their concerns and needs.


With the pandemic forcing companies to allow their employees to work from home, privacy concerns have been brought to light. Because managers aren’t able to supervise their teams in person now, businesses have to use various monitoring tools. Some companies use apps that log keystrokes and even use attention-tracking features to ensure that their employees remain focused. Of course, people are concerned that these tools violate their privacy.

In reality, most types of employee monitoring are legal. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 allows companies to observe all written and verbal communication as long as there’s a legitimate business reason behind it. This means that business owners can look through emails, use video surveillance, and monitor computer activities. Of course, they need to meet certain legal conditions before they can conduct any surveillance on their employees. However, the general rule is that monitoring is legal as long as it is done on company-issued devices and/or during work hours.

Even so, not everything that’s legal can be considered ethical. Just because you won’t get lawsuits for it, it doesn’t mean it’s morally acceptable to do it. So, it’s important to know when to draw the line when it comes to corporate surveillance. Moreover, if you’re going to observe performance and productivity markers, choose an app that promotes ethical monitoring. In this area, your best option is Traqq.

Traqq is a time tracker that helps boost employee productivity without violating your workers’ privacy. Once this app is launched, it will start logging time. It will also monitor the user’s keyboard movements and mouse clicks and scrolls to identify their activity levels. However, do note that Traqq doesn’t function like a keylogger that stores passwords and private messages. All the app does is observe how active a user is.

Traqq also takes random screenshots and video recordings of a user’s desktop. However, the app intentionally reduces the quality of the images and videos to protect the employee’s privacy. The video recordings and screenshots are blurred to an extent that would prevent any sensitive information from becoming legible. This means that the employer will only get an idea of what the person is doing at a given time. They won’t be able to read private messages or acquire passwords. So, when it comes to ethical employee monitoring, you can trust Traqq.

Traqq - ethical time tracker


Remember that top management is primarily responsible for avoiding ethical issues in business. There should be clear policies, systems, and tools that will ensure transparency and protect employees. Management must be able to identify and resolve ethical problems in the workplace. Moreover, ethical concerns must be addressed as soon as their earliest signs come to the surface. Ensure that your company enforces a robust code of ethics that everyone will adhere to.

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