In a highly competitive environment that thrives on doing anything and everything it takes to succeed, ethics are a key system used to govern business operations. Business ethics, by definition, is a system of beliefs that serves to guide a business organization and the individuals within that organization. These largely revolve around the behaviors, decisions, and values of all involved, and are sometimes incorporated into regulatory norms.
On July 30, 2002, the American Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) act to improve corporate disclosure accountability, transparency, and corporate governance across a public company. The SOX act is intended to protect the shareholders and the general public from business accounting errors and fraudulent activities. The act was passed in a reaction to a series of financial scandals that occurred during 2000-2002 period such as Enron, Tyco, and WorldCom.
In general, compliance refers to all the laws, regulations, and policies that an organization should confirm. When in compliance, the organization, employees, and third-party vendors will behave according to the laws and standards of the regulatory and industry bodies. The essence is that compliance helps organizations to act responsibly and obey regulations related to labor, work safety, finance, operations, and accounting standards.