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Business Ethics and Human Rights

Examination of the issue of business ethics and human rights reveals that certain corporations uphold a “positive duty” to respect human rights, or in other words, they take positive steps to promote and fulfill human rights.7 To illustrate, the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) Global8 focus is on promoting anticorruption and business ethics and on building trust and related aspects of responsible business practices internationally and with an emphasis on emerging markets. Furthermore, companies have found that paying attention to human rights has a positive impact on business performance because stakeholder relations improve and positive corporate reputation and brand name ensue as do employee motivation and retention. Most companies, however, maintain that they have a “negative duty” not to deprive people of their rights, and thus they avoid human rights violations because they have a vested interest in maintaining a “good reputation” at home and abroad. In light of corporate scandals and the 2008 financial crisis, it is reasonable to ask whether businesses can themselves improve their own ethical behavior. Cofey’s (2014) report on “The Role and Effectiveness of Ethics and Compliance Practitioners” argued in the affirmative and provided such ethics and compliance practitioners with detailed guidance ofhow business behavior can be changed for the better from within.

Let us next consider various characteristics of individuals that may help us to make some sense of their unethical behaviors and so point the way toward prevention.

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