A Level Secondary Secondary Business

Business Ethics

On the new business specifications for varying exam boards for A level and Vocational, ethics and corporate social responsibilities are covered. This is a topic that students always find interesting and are sometimes surprised by what they find out.

Ethics are moral guidelines which govern good behaviour. So behaving ethically is doing what is morally right. [http://www.tutor2u.net/business/reference/business-ethics-introduction]

Whilst planning a lesson the other day I considered how to teach business ethics. Students automatically think of sweat shops as ways in which businesses operate unethically. But there are many other ways:

  • Advertising campaigns can embellish figures
  • Businesses can target children with products that may be inappropriate
  • Products can be of poor quality because of lack of checking
  • Tobacco companies can promote themselves as being ethical

You could start the lesson by posing some questions on the board for the students to think about –

  • Should businesses profit from problem gambling?
  • Should supermarkets sell lager cheaper than bottled water?
  • Is ethical shopping a luxury we can’t afford?
  • Should fashion retailers use suppliers who don’t pay a living wage?

There is also a great video here on youtube [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoE8XlcDUI8] that can be used to introduce the idea of business ethics.

I thought about a nice activity to get students developing arguments for both sides of the argument for ethics and to think about stakeholder impact.

Statements can be put onto sort cards such as –

  • Sweatshops being used to produce cheap goods
  • The price of life saving medicine being priced so high those ill cannot afford it
  • Cigarette being advertised to children in developing countries

Ask students to then rank these in terms of which is the most unethical and give reasons for these judgments. This should take the students a while in groups of around 4.

Then they could consider which stakeholders have been affected and how they have been impacted by the businesses’ actions. This could either be in a positive or negative way.

Once they have finished this then ask them to pretend that they are the CEO of the company and they have to justify the actions of the business to the rest of the class. One of the biggest skills that a student can develop at A level is that of justifying points and effectively presenting arguments. A lesson like this should enable the students to do this.




Donna Jestin

Teacher of Business A level, Senior and Principal examiner for a major UK exam board.


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