Business Ethics Survey Answers and Explanations

Are you an ethical owner or employee? Here are the answers to our survey questions along with an explanation.

For business owners/managers:

1. From the top down, your business is run with honesty, integrity and respect for others.


Most business owners believe they have honesty and integrity, but do they really?

2. You receive a duplicate payment from a customer who doesn’t realize he made a double payment. You cash the second check thinking he probably won’t notice. If he asks for the money back, you’ll just feign ignorance and issue a refund.


Honesty is always the best policy. One local business tried this with a customer and the customer never came back.

3. Your product prices are going up January 1. You purposely schedule a customer’s automatic shipment for January 1 that should have been in December just so you can charge the higher rates.


Don’t insult your customers’ intelligence. Pull a stunt like this and suffer the consequences.

4. Due to unforeseen circumstances, customer orders become backlogged and customers are demanding their products. You explain to the customers the reason for the backlog, what you are doing to rectify the problem and when the products will be available. You offer customers a full refund if they cannot wait until the products are available.


When you’re honest with your customers, you may be surprised how appreciative and accommodating they can be. You‘ll probably gain greater customer loyalty because of your honesty.

5. A customer makes a complaint about a service provided by one of your agents. This customer is a tiny account and the monies received negligible. When the customer complains a second time and cancels her account, you don’t apologize or care because you don’t need her money anyway.


Every customer, large account or small, should be treated with the same respect and consideration. Other than being the right thing to do, it is often the initial tiny order that can turn into large orders in the future.

6. The same priority is given to customers’ needs after you have gotten “the sale” as before.


Don’t be one of those companies that have people at the ready to take your sales, but take you go through an obstacle course to speak with someone about a problem after the purchase is made. Customers won’t want to come back a second time.

7. You’re about to close a big sale. The potential customer asks you a question, and if you don’t fib, you know you’ll lose the sale. You tell the fib and save the sale.


Wrong, wrong, wrong. If the customer finds out, be prepared for some fireworks and some big refunds.

8. You pretend to have a prior relationship with a potential client in order to get your foot in the door. What they don’t remember won’t hurt them.


This is a real smarmy way of getting your foot in the door. If the individual realizes you lied, you’ll not only lose the sale, but count on that person never doing business with you ever.

9. Business is suffering, and employees are leaving your sinking ship. You hold a meeting with existing employees and assure them that business is fine and their jobs are secure even though they’re not. You certainly don’t want to lose anyone else while you’re still struggling to stay afloat.


When times are tough, this is often when a person’s true character comes through.

The right thing to do isn’t always easy.

10. You haven’t gotten around to removing some discontinued products on your shopping cart. Customers are charging their credit cards for these discontinued items, and you take your time letting them know the products are discontinued. You suggest the monies already charged can be used for other items on your shopping cart.


Be real careful about getting sloppy with doing the right thing. Maybe you honestly forgot to take those items off your shopping cart, but customers will not appreciate anything that smacks of dishonest practices.

For Employees:

1. You occasionally take home small supply items from the office like pencils and staples. 


Theft is theft, whether it is one pencil or one laptop. It’s wrong, and if you give yourself justification for the small items, this could lead to the pilfering of more costly supplies. One store manager was demoted for several years to assistant manager when he was caught stealing a $5.00 plant. Was it really worth it?

2. You would never pad your company expense account.


Cheating your employer out of any amount is wrong. When “everyone is doing it,” these small amounts can add up to a significant sum.

3. You surf the Net for non-work related matters during work time. Everyone does it.


Your personal emails and the Net are not going anywhere. They’ll still be there when you get home from work.

4. Calling in “sick” is OK as long as it’s not super-busy at work.


A “sick day” is for when you’re sick. It’s that simple. And no matter how good of an actor you think you are when you fake calling in sick, you’re not fooling anyone but yourself.

5. When your chatty coworker gossips about everyone and anyone in the office, you simply say nothing.


Gossip makes for an ugly negative work environment. If you come across an office gossip, nip it in the bud. In a nice way, explain immediately to this individual that if they can’t say something nice about a coworker, you really don’t want to hear about it at all.

6. You make an error and another employee gets blamed. No one would be able to trace the error back to you, but you immediately come forward to take responsibility.


No one likes making a mistake on the job, and especially having to admit to one. Imagine how you would feel being blamed for a mistake you hadn’t made, and it’ll be easier to fess up.

7. A company supplier gives you a holiday gift of your favorite gourmet chocolates valued at $50. You accept the gift and enjoy the chocolates.

Not Sure

The correct ethical answer to this depends on your particular company and the type of business you’re in. You would need to know your company’s specific policy on accepting gifts. Typically, many businesses allow employees to accept gifts of relatively small value. One company though might set the limit at $50 in a year from any one source, whereas another may set the limit at $100. In some industries, the acceptance of gifts is strictly prohibited.

8. A coworker’s paycheck in an unsealed envelope is placed on your desk by mistake. No one is around. You resist the temptation to peak and deliver the paycheck to its rightful recipient.


Sure, you’d like to know how much your coworkers make and how your pay stacks up next to theirs. But looking at someone’s paycheck is just plain sneaky. And this is one instance where ignorance is probably bliss.

9. You go to the restroom and find a $50-dollar bill. Finders keepers, losers weepers.


Turning in found money that isn’t yours is addictive. Once you experience the admiration and awe people bestow upon you for being so honest, you’ll never keep found money again.

10. The boss is away, and your coworker uses the time to make personal phone calls and play computer games at her workstation. Taking the opposite stance, you “give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.”


When you’re an ethical person, others’ behavior has no influence on you. You’ll give 100% on a job, whether the person next to you does so or not.

Get started image

Ready to get started?

Get the expert support you need

Related Articles

Celebrity Business Owners: Interview With Melissa Joan Hart

by Team ZenBusiness, on May 13, 2024

What OKR Options Should I Consider For My Business?

by Team ZenBusiness, on May 13, 2024

Understanding the Corporate Buyer

by Team ZenBusiness, on November 28, 2023

Start Your LLC Today