The 5 Most Common Unethical Business Practices


From large multi-billion-dollar companies to small scale businesses, competition is a driving factor for any form of business. Whether the business has been in existence for a long time and already has a large consumer base or is a startup looking to gain consumers, the main agenda in the organization is usually to plot ways to take down their competition or rather, to perform better than the competition. This, however, leads to many businesses taking on some unscrupulous practices that would guarantee their success. Swindling, deception, collusion, and confusion are not just popular themes in telenovelas but the reality of most businesses in our society.

For several years, multiple businesses have been run through devious tendencies to the point that of these crooked practices have become part of the system. We have reached a stage where the line between good and evil when it comes to running businesses has become so thin. Traditionally, the core focus of the businesses used to be the consumers; however recently, the main focus has become gaining more profits, achieving greater margins and gaining power and control over the industry. The fact that so many firms are opting towards the unacceptable practices, however, does not make them right. In fact, in recent years, the public has become more aware and vigilant with companies that take advantage of their position and take on unethical practices.

A good example is the recently unveiled Facebook data scandal. You might have already heard about this global controversy surrounding the billionaire creator of Facebook. If you are in the dark, worry not, here is all you need to know about this issue. Facebook allowed a social networking network by the name of the quiz app to collect data from more than fifty million profiles on Facebook. The data was then delivered to Cambridge Analytica. This may seem like a very trivial issue to many, but the fact that the personal information of consumers was used without their consent is considered as digital theft. This is just but one of the several unethical business practices that are being adopted by firms all over the globe. Others include:

Giving misleading information about products

It is not uncommon for companies to promote products that could be harmful to consumers or the environment by distributing misleading information about the products. In fact, companies of all sorts from food manufacturers, to technical firms among others have at a time duped their consumers into purchasing their products in such a way. Some have gotten away with it, but others have not been as lucky. For instance, Ferrero USA, the manufacturers of the popular spread Nutella were sued for advertising the chocolate spread as a nutritious breakfast bit for children. The lawsuit was settled for 3.05 million dollars.

Competing unfairly

In an attempt to take down their competitors, many firms have ended up using unfair competition as a strategy. Such practices include misappropriation of trade assets, defamation of the competitors and their brand, as well as trademark infringement. Such practices are usually aimed at giving the consumers a wrong impression of the competitor. Exactly a decade ago, Coca-Cola was sued for defamation of the Pepsi brand. Coca-Cola used an advert for one of its sports drinks to dupe its consumers into thinking that a similar product by Pepsi contained an alarming amount of electrolytes. Pepsi, however, refuted the claims and sued Coca-Cola.

Treating employees poorly

Perhaps this is the most popular unethical practice common to both small and large firms across the globe. Businesses overwork their employees and do not pay them matching the quality and quantity of work that they do. In some extreme cases, employees are forced to work under stressful situations, and some are even subject to sexual as well as mental harassment. Companies have made it their goal to hire cheap labor. Companies have gone to the extent of hiring sweatshops in the less developed countries and having them manufacture their goods in bulk. A magnificent example in the multi-billion-dollar tech company, Apple. Apple has been manufacturing its products through Foxconn. Foxconn is a company based in Taiwan that manufactures the iPhone. The company has been accused on several occasions of employing children slaves who do heavy jobs under pathetic and disturbing conditions for several hours with very little pay.


Bribery has become quite common in society. Businesses have not been left behind. Items of quality such as money are exchanged for favors among different parties like vendors and marketers. Companies have been very keen when covering their tracks when it comes to cases of bribery. From using untraceable accounts to using third parties, firms have become quite savvy in this field. However, a few like Diageo have not been able to escape the law. In the year 2011, the beverage company based in the United Kingdom was sued for giving bribes to government officials from India, Thailand and South Korea in exchange for the officials assisting them to get quick approval for their products. The lawsuit was settled for sixteen million dollars.

Providing false accounts

Most companies get their funding from investors and lenders such as banks. In order to attract investors and get loan approvals from lending institutions, several companies have been involved in such practices like cooking their books of accounts to make them look more appealing than they truly are. The changes that such companies make to their accounting books include lowering their depreciation and increasing their profits. Such reports dupe investors into buying several stocks from the stock market and approving large loans than the companies deserve.

A good example is a time Toshiba was found guilty of exaggerating its profits by more than a billion dollars for seven years in an attempt to cover up the company’s mismanagement.

All these practices are more common than you would think. Almost all companies have at one point indulged in one or more or in several cases all of such practices, so much that the society has begun to normalize such acts. However, the law remains clear and such acts against it.

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