Ethics and Social Responsibility – Business Essay
Ethics and Social Responsibility in business and government today are very important subjects. There are numerous reasons for businesses to operate in an ethical and socially responsible manner. There are government
regulations, corporate belief systems, and basic common sense. There needs to be a overall intent to be ethical and socially responsible in today’s business environment in order to stay successful.
Ethics in Business
In business today there are many instances of corporations that act from an ethical standard, including the company that I work for. In the wake of scandals such as Enron and Imclone it is more important than ever that companies make an effort to push out improper behavior and practices if they wish to stay in business. One example of good business practices is the case of Henry Thomas, a cellular technician for Southern Bell, who was asked to randomly terminate five employees as a disciplinary measure. He refused to do so based on his moral code, and was then terminated. He decided to go into business for himself and dedicate his business to God. He states that, “The Bible tells us that God’s eyes are looking to and fro throughout the earth for those whose hearts are wholly committed to him. Every day, I pray that God would give us wisdom and that he would find us usable so that we can continue our mission to help others and to show God how much we love him.” (Miller, 1). When Thomas rededicated his efforts to God and his business, his small business has grown to the point where they have monthly earnings in excess of $10 million. Not bad for just following your moral code and God’s plan.
Another area where ethics are important is the government sector. It is important for the government to act in an ethical manner so that we, as citizens can have faith that the right things are being done for the right reasons. I was pleased to find that the government is active in the form of a website called the developmental gateway, which contains articles on topics such as ethics and social responsibility in government sectors and business sectors. It is extremely informative and a good source of information on how things are handled in government.
The importance of ethics in business is seen all the way into the structural natures of businesses. It is not just a notion that you have; it is in the way a business operates that can show the importance of ethics in your company. The dedication to ethics must come from the highest ranks of the organization. In order to have a principled company, you must have a principled leadership. Principled leaders “…have their goals and views in line with all stakeholders in the company such as workers, stockholders, customers, and communities “ (Batstone, 86). Another factor involved in principled leaders is credibility, credibility is “…intangible characteristics that lead their people to believe in and work towards objectives. Earning credibility is a daily, uphill journey that has to be continually renewed.” (Kouzes, 125). Credibility is something that many of the companies involved in scandals have lost. Getting it back will be either impossible or a tremendous effort. One way to handle the effects of any kind of catastrophe or scandal is to have a crisis management system in place. Crisis management is “…a systemic initiative to prevent man-induced catastrophes from effecting the organization negatively.” (Mitroff, 17). At my place of employment, we have an emergency response team in order to respond to any medical, chemical, and hazardous material situation. I think that this is a valid method of crisis management and will help if there is ever any problems in the future.
Another very important area for ethics to be apparent is the medical field. Banja states in his interview that ethics are important because “…health care is so unpredictable, uncertain, stressful, and contains such high-stakes, that many practitioners exaggerate their competence. They come to believe that one ought never appear ignorant, uncertain, hesitant, or wrong. They work hard on convincing themselves and others that they are eminently capable, indeed, outstanding, so that when something like an error does occur, the cognitive dissonance it creates is traumatic because it threatens their self-image.” (Banja 1). The public often hears of tragedies that occur on the operating table, such as instruments left inside the body, or wrong limbs operated on. These instances scare people and lead to mistrust. It is essential that physicians maintain ethical standards so that they can maintain the trust that we need to place in them as customers.
Social Responsibility in Business
With the amount of pollution in the world today it is very important for business to be socially responsible in operation. For instance, my company has its own environmental department, which takes care of any environmental issues that may occur in our daily operations. Another instance of a corporation being ecologically sensitive is the case of Bainbridge Graduate Institute. Bainbridge Graduate Institute has committed itself to 100% use of renewable energy sources. One of Bainbridge’s faculty stated, “Our purchase of green tags [renewable energy certificates] is a natural extension of our mission to teach sustainable business practices” (www.epa.gov). It is important to note that Bainbridge is not the first to try this practice, but they are one of the most successful.
Another case of social responsibility is the Brazilian sugar markets. These companies are becoming more globalized and are coming under the scrutiny of many other governments. Once used to free reign as far as their overall actions were concerned. One thing they are learning is that “Bad publicity can translate into a lower stock price” (Vogel, ethicsworld.com). Also, Frank Vogl in his article says that, “For business, coming to terms with this vital and complex agenda (social responsibility) means new strategies and corporate behaviors.” (Vogl, ethicsworld.com). Hopefully the Brazilian sugar makers will realize that they cannot exploit people or resources and continue to be profitable in this day and age. People are more valuable than to be used as mere commodities.
In conclusion, Ethics and Social Responsibility are very important for modern businesses to possess to function productively and profitably. In a world that has been rocked my multiple corporate scandals and environmental disasters, it is essential that companies put forth the effort to regain and maintain the trust of their customers and the public in general. Hopefully the efforts of organizations like Bainbridge Graduate Institute, and people like Henry Thomas will help to regain some of the footing that has been lost over the years. With a little effort and responsibility, perhaps the organizations of today can leave the world in better shape for our children and their children.
Books or Literature
Batstone, David. Saving the Corporate Soul & (Who Knows?) Maybe Your Own. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass, 2003.
Kouzes, James M. & Posner, Barry Z. Credibility: How Leaders Gain It and Lose It, Why People Demand It. San Francisco: Jossey –Bass, 1993.
Mitroff, Allen I , Anagnos, Gus. Managing Crises Before They Happen: What Every Manager Needs to Know about Crisis Management. New York: American Management Association, 2001.
Peters, Thomas J. “Putting Excellence Into Management,” Business Week, July 21, 1980, © 1980 by McGraw – Hill, Inc.
Bainbridge Graduate Institute Commits to 100% Renewable Energy, Joins EPA Green Power Partnership (2006). Retrieved 1-15-2006 from www.epa.gov/greenpower.
Miller, Kevin.(2006). Refusing to Compromise Pays Big Dividends. Retrieved 1-15-2006 from http://secretsofsuccess.com/people/thomas.html
Vogel, David. (2005). The Market for Virtue: The Potential and Limits of Corporate Social Responsibilit. http://www.ethicsworld.com/
Vogl, Frank. (2005). Ethics & Values of Globalization. Retrieved 1-15-2006 from http://www.ethicsworld.com/
BANJA, JOHN. (2005). JOHN BANJA INTERVIEWS HIMSELF ON HIS BOOK “MEDICAL ERRORS AND MEDICAL NARCISSISM”. RETRIEVED 1-20-2006 FROM HTTP://WWW.ETHICS.EMORY.EDU/NEWS/ARCHIVES/000374.HTML.