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By Alan Richter

Defining ethical business conduct often depends on whom you talk to. Setting business standards based on core values helps employees play by the same rules.

At a recent conference on global business ethics, a distinguished panel of ethics experts grappled with the question: "Which is more ethical-treating people as if they were all the same or all different?" No one presumed to know the right answers to that question in every situation, and that’s the crux of the problem with global business ethics.

Ethics has never been easy to define because it deals with intangibles like values and beliefs. But ethical standards provide us with an ability to resolve global ethical dilemmas. Without standards, we restrict our ability to do business effectively in a borderless work. And, paradoxically, our search for a universal code of ethics intensifies just as we become increasingly aware of cultural differences.

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