Business students face some difficult challenges when learning to be ethical business leaders. Having knowledge of business operations is not sufficient to be leaders, not to mention being ethical business leaders.

The development of the values and skills to be principled or ethical business leaders requires recognition that business is an institution that has significant responsibility to improve social welfare with considerations of humanity, trust and fairness.

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3 things students need to become ethical business leaders

To help young business students develop these values and skills, there are three things that can make a substantial impact on their progress.

1. Profits are not the purpose of business
One of the first things business students need to understand is that the purpose of business is not to make profits. In general, there is a naïve perspective about business as the way to make money or solely to provide economic benefits.

About the Author:

Dawn Elm, PhD, is the executive director of the Center for Ethics in Practice at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business. She is the David A. and Barbara Koch (Graco) Distinguished Professor of Business Ethics and Leadership at the Opus College. She received her PhD in strategic management and organization from the University of Minnesota in 1989 and has been a faculty member at St. Thomas since then. Elm researches, teaches, and consults in the areas of business ethics, strategy, leadership, corporate governance, and the integration of the arts and ethics. Elm is the Executive Director of BERC, known as the Business Ethics Resource Center, an open-access website that makes business ethics resources available freely to the public with the intent to educate business leaders and assist them in building and maintaining strong organizational cultures and practices of ethics and compliance in the businesses and industries they serve. For more information please visit:

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