There is a difference between doing things ethically and doing ethical things.
Some argue that the use of these words is just a question of terminology, and certainly in business practice and literature they can be used interchangeably and there are overlaps in the roles and job titles of people with these remits. But what they mean varies across and within sectors.
Business ethics is about the application of ethical values to all business behaviours and functions. It is about the conduct of individuals as well as the organisation –'the way we do business'. A CR agenda is often about the commitment the organisation makes to its stakeholders to increase the positive impacts and decrease the negative ones – either through core business activities or through additional, voluntary or philanthropic programmes. This latter is often known as Corporate Social Responsibility. The IBE believes that an organisation cannot be genuinely 'responsible' without an embedded and inherent culture that is based on ethical values such as trust, openness, respect and integrity.
More recently the concept of sustainability has become important in the notion of ethical and responsible business. By definition, this adds a long term dimension. Confusingly however, in practice the term is used to imply the viability of a business, the protection of natural resources, ecological wellbeing or long term social and economic health