What is an ethical corporate culture

3.2 Dimension 7: Ethical orientation


Corporate ethics represents the normative dimension of corporate culture. It is the link to the central values ​​of the surrounding society, namely freedom, justice, solidarity and the common good. In order to meet their responsibility towards society and the environment, companies in a social market economy have the task of examining how they apply the rules of the game in such a way that they contribute to the fulfillment of these overarching cultural values. In this way they can help to secure the future viability of our free society.

The social market economy in the Federal Republic of Germany wants to reconcile economic freedom and social justice. In fact, economic success went hand in hand with a high degree of social justice and made Germany one of the leading economic nations. So ethics and national competitiveness go hand in hand. Roland Berger, one of the most prominent management consultants, is convinced that reforms are necessary in individual areas, but that Ludwig Erhard's economic and socio-political model of the social market economy will continue to support it in the future. Business ethics based on partnership and cooperation is a locational advantage.

An ethical orientation of corporate culture is not a luxury: There is increasing public awareness of the socially and ecologically acceptable behavior of companies. If a company does not take this change in values ​​into account, it is easily caught in the crossfire of criticism and risks economic losses.

Employees find it easier to identify with a company that follows a basic ethical orientation in its corporate policy and stands for values ​​with which they themselves agree. It is simply more pleasant to work in a company that is highly regarded by the general public. The shine of the company radiates. On the other hand, it is not very motivating to work in a company that is publicly discredited or where the working atmosphere is sour. A negative image also makes it difficult to attract new, highly qualified employees.

Ethical guidelines

Giving the company an ethical orientation means aligning its corporate culture with the norms and values ​​of society as a whole. A company is not an isolated unit, but part of society as a whole, and must therefore inevitably keep these social values ​​and norms in view. Due to the current cases of corruption, an intensive discussion about the behavior of decision-makers from politics and business has started in the German public, the results of which will have a direct impact on some companies.

You can give your corporate culture an ethical orientation by ensuring that the following points are observed in your company:

  • An awareness must be created that ethical considerations also play a role in everyday work and that moral values ​​must be observed.
  • A dialogue should be held in the company about the values ​​by which the company wants to orient itself.
  • The norms and values ​​should correspond to the basic convictions of the employees so that they can work for the company out of inner convictions.
  • The selected values ​​should apply to everyone and be binding.
  • Rules of conduct should be drawn up that provide orientation in decision-making situations in which employees are confronted with conflicts of values ​​and norms.
  • Employees should be encouraged to critically review their own values ​​and to justify them sensibly and transparently.
  • The conditions in the workplace should be checked to see if they need to be changed in order to be able to act morally.