A fundamental principle of ethics is fairness. Ethical people play fairly. They respect the rules, judge circumstances by ethical criteria, and follow through appropriately. In a competitive business climate, the ethical lines are blurred by the urgency to make the sale, outmaneuver the competition, and leverage anything and everything to close the deal. The big question is how you can stand by the principle of fair business dealing when it seems so advantageous not to.
First understand what fairness is and what it is not. Fairness is not just about equality of outcome. It's about how you play the game. What makes our modern business culture so successful is that there are rules that govern how we do business so that everyone who plays has a shot at winning. The government does this through regulation and legislation such as antitrust and anti-corruption laws. Businesses do this by abiding by industry standards, clarifying ethical codes and procedures, and raising the bar for ethical business conduct. Although there is no guarantee of success, there is a reasonable assurance that everyone is playing by the same rules. This is fine and good, but how should we operate in a world where some play by the rules and others do not?
You must first accept the basic moral principle that fair and honest business practices are the best options simply because they are the right things to do. If you don't, then everything can be either thrown out or accepted based on whatever subjective criteria you want. You have to decide to take the moral high ground even if you're the only honest person in sight. Of course, this is more easily said than done. There will be times in your life when you may feel pretty lonely after the warm feelings are gone and you're left with only your principles to keep you company.
But it doesn't have to feel this way. Being able to deal fairly in an unfair world can be done successfully if you truly understand the scope and the power you...