Why Ethics Codes are vital even when we have Laws and Religion

At a basic level, a code of ethics exist to help minimize the negative effects of employee behavior while ensuring a firm and its industry sustains healthy competition as well as socially responsible behavior in the long run. Regardless of the religious system or laws, man has at the core of their heart evil. For example, The Bible explains that God gave Ten Commandments. These commandments were given without regard as to whether the recipients were able to keep them of not. God gave them to men and women who stated, that if he made His laws known, they would follow them (Exodus 19:18).

ImageThe idea that the Ten Commandments are the legitimate source of ethical standards are seen in laws that establish basic parameters that we live by in this country, such as stealing, murder, and covetousness. In fact, five of the Ten Commandments deal with man’s treatment of men and the other five, man’s treatment of God.  

The reason that a code of ethics is necessary even where religious beliefs or laws are in place is, it provides insight in the situations in which an organization deals with conduct or judgments that are based on an awareness of such things as, cultural sensitivity, human rights, and employee rights. For some, they hold to the idea that if the group believes something is right, it is. If the group believes it is not, then it is not. This is cultural relativism. There is not code to follow, it is simply what is best for the culture. If this is the standard, than no other culture has the right to state that what they are doing is wrong. If those in power deem a certain class of people or a religious group culturally irrelevant, they have the right to do what they deem necessary without the interference of any other nation (as in the cases of countries such as, Somalia, Iraq, Iran).

A code of ethics assists employers and employees to not cross lines that are sometimes unseen, especially when conducting business in the global market place (Jackson, 1999). Without a code of ethics in place, the overwhelming issues that we face as a nation in the global marketplace become complicated when those in authority abuse their power, benefits, and property (Johnson, 1952). A code of ethics establishes boundaries and limits for those in authority to follow and work within.


Eckman, J. P. (2004). Biblical ethics: Choosing right in a world gone wrong. Biblical Essentials Series. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Jackson, K. T. (1999). Spirituality as a foundation for freedom and creative imagination in international business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 19(1), 61-70. http://search.proquest.com/docview/198102416?accountid=7374

Johnson, C.E. (1952). Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership Casting Light or Shadow. United States, George Fox University. Sage Publications.


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