One of the highlights of my lessons is when I get to discuss a variety of business topics with my clients. Often the topic comes up in conversation rather than being set before a lesson. It could be something either I or my client saw in the news, read in a blog post or experienced and the conversation would start. It’s a great way of getting speaking practice and exploring new language.
This got me thinking about starting a new series here on my blog. I’d like to call this Business Discussion Topics. I’m thinking of picking a topic once a month and sharing my thoughts and vocabulary with you in a post. I plan to highlight vocabulary like set expressions, idiomatic expressions and vocabulary specific to the topic being discussed.
However, I don’t want to do all the thinking work. Oh no, I want YOUR involvement too. I would like you to give me your suggestions of topics you’d like me to explore and discuss here. I want this to be a collaboration. So, if you think of business topics you’d like discussed in English, drop me a line in the comments box or email me at email@example.com.
Let me start this series off with a topic that has been preying on my mind (idiom: worrying me) in the last week or so, and that is the subject of business ethics.
So first off, what are business ethics? Wikipedia says that:
“Business ethics refers to contemporary standards or sets of values that govern the actions and behaviour of an individual in the business organisation.” Here’s the full definition.
I am sure in your organisation you have a code of conduct which you have to follow. I certainly did when I worked in the financial services industry. However, it’s not just individuals that have to conform to a set of values or business ethics but also the organisation he or she works for. The term corporate social responsibility (CSR) is closely linked to the idea of business ethics.
Business ethics also refers to the moral responsibility business owners and corporate boards have not only to their shareholders but above all (in my opinion) to their employees (former and current), their customers, the local community and the environment.
Most businesses run their companies ethically but every now and again corporate greed steps in and business ethics goes out of the window – (idiom: doesn’t exist anymore).
I am sure you know what I’m talking about. The business owner who runs his/her company like their own fiefdom (property) with no thought for their employees; who pays themselves handsome salaries and/or dividends regardless of whether the company is making a profit or not; who registers the company in the name of a spouse who’s a resident in a tax haven, therefore avoiding tax and worse still, runs the business into the ground (idiom: to make the business fail) and then sells it off for practically nothing. Or they treat the business like their personal bank account which is bad enough but when they help themselves to the company’s pension fund to the point of leaving pension fund in deficit (opposite of credit), well that just takes the biscuit (idiom: the most annoying thing)!
These situations in the corporate world are bad enough, but what I find so disturbing is when a government creates a state fund that is meant to help a country’s economy, create thousands of jobs, build much-needed infrastructure only for its (the government’s) ministers to siphon off (idiom: to steal) huge amounts of money from the fund into their own personal offshore accounts and then refuse to be held accountable for their actions. How can some people live with their conscience? Unfortunately there are many countries around the world whose leaders treat their country like their own property to do as they please and no one can hold them to account.
One of the things I admire about the UK is that we can still hold the government and its officials, businesses and their owners accountable for their actions, especially when their irresponsible behaviour has led to hardship for employees. pension fund holders and taxpayers. I am not saying the system is perfect here in the UK, but there is some form of accountability, Alas, this accountability is sadly lacking in many countries around the world.
What would be even better is if politicians and independent regulators didn’t kowtow (show too much respect and try to please too much) to successful businessmen by turning a blind eye (idiom: ignoring something you know is wrong or illegal) to mismanagement in the first place. If they stopped trying to curry favour (idiom:to praise someone to gain advantage) with the elite business classes, perhaps these breaches in business ethics would happen less often.
What do you think? I’d love to know.
Don’t forget to share the topics you’d like me to discuss in next month’s post. And if you think your colleagues or friends would benefit from the vocabulary covered in this post, please share it with them.
Ciao for now
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