Difference Between Ethics & Social Responsibility

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  • 0:03 Ethics & Social Responsibility
  • 1:02 Individual Ethics
  • 1:42 Occupational &…
  • 2:55 Societal Ethics
  • 3:52 Social Responsibility Plans
  • 4:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Gaines Arnold
Ethics and social responsibility are important to both businesses and individuals. In this video, we'll use a real-life example to explore the differences between ethics and social responsibility.

Ethics and Social Responsibility

While working for XYZ Corporation, Daria is tasked with examining the company's social outreach efforts and formulating a plan for a social responsibility initiative. Social outreach can include taking corporate responsibility for the environment, employee health, and the common good with regard to business practices, products, and services.

Daria begins her task by studying business ethics. The words 'ethics' and 'social responsibility' are often confused as being synonymous with each other, but they're not. Ethics speak to individual, occupational, organizational, or societal morals and values, while social responsibility is the practical application of ethical concerns for the benefit of society as a whole. Daria studies the differences between ethics and social responsibility to best determine how she can construct a social outreach campaign for the XYZ Corporation.

Individual Ethics

Shaped by family, friends, and experiences, individual ethics are guiding principles that help each one of us determine what is right and wrong. Daria is clear about her own personal ethics, which may help her establish XYZ Corporation's social responsibility platform. While Daria needs to make sure that the platform won't challenge her personal ethics, her social responsibility plan must remain true to the XYZ Corporation and the society impacted by the company's decisions. Daria understands that social responsibility is not only about what a single individual believes, but also about what a society believes.

Occupational and Organizational Ethics

Occupational and organizational ethics are differentiated by individual ethics. Occupational ethics are those formed by workers as they relate to their particular jobs within an organization. Organizational ethics are those framed for an entire company, not just a particular subset within an organization. While Daria is tasked with determining an ethical social responsibility program for the XYZ Corporation, she has to consider how that task fits within the organization as a whole. For example, engineers who deal with toxic substances may have an occupational ethic that requires them to make sure that those substances do not encroach on public spaces. Accountants may not have the same environmental concerns, but understand that their jobs require them to deal with sensitive company material that should not be disseminated.

To create a socially responsible plan for the XYZ Corporation, Daria must examine the ethics inherent in each occupation within the company as well as the company itself, so Daria looks at the many ways the corporation impacts society at large before she finalizes her plan.

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