To what extent is it possible to be fully ethical in business and in management practice? What are the main issues that you have to address and confront? What are the main ethical pressures facing the supermarket industry and how might these be addressed and overcome? Ethics questions morality, whether something is ethical or unethical, right or wrong, good or evil, aim for justice, etc. Each person may have their own different opinion, causing ethics to be a moral value to what feels right or wrong depending on the situation.
It is human nature to be selfish in order to survive, management nature to be selfish in order to guarantee an increasing profit, but luckily moral values have allowed an increase to standards of life in the last few centuries. In the animal kingdom we see that mother species consume even their own children in order to survive. Here we also see that to benefit one, another must sacrifice. For organisations to continue increase in profits, they may need to push their way through different suppliers, different employees, and different obligations in order to maintain their long term aims, possibly being caused unethically.
To run a business, moral values are always considered but to a certain extent. Most debates argue that it is not possible to succeed well in managing a business without achieving unethically. The moral means behind is as to believe in what one does is not against ones morals, and to act upon those unveil actions – possibly being considerate of others, as if they were part of your family. ‘The more successfully the manager does their work, the greater will be the integrity required. An IT related firm would monitor their staffs actions on the computer, call centres would monitor each phone calls made, retailers require security checks when staff leave the site – all these conduct good management, but could be argued to an extent that staff are not trusted, so are therefore strictly kept an eye on. To what level of security should managers undertake to prevent ethical dilemmas? If a group of employees cannot be trusted then should they be trusted to conduct the work ethically?
Morality has been kept behind a fence in this situation, if each person in this world was able to be free from sin then there would be no need for security. Market research securely protects data given by clients, the honesty they insist their company abides to makes clients feel safe about the data they give out, but could result as use for financial gain. So despite market research abiding to strict codes of conduct, it could be argued that to use personal data for ones use of creating business/improving their trade could arise an ethical dilemma.
However, due to ethics in this world, business and trade legislations have been bought to attention to improve society. Decades before, children in our country worked over 16 hours a day with limbs torn off, disabled workers were only starved to death and women could not work. In the modern world today, women can now have high responsibilities in a business, there is far less discrimination about an employee’s race, religious views or sex, the world is constantly changing and developing to adapt to society.
Morality has led unions to be organised, laws to be instituted, and regulations to be established to protect unethical matters of society today. It can also be noted that ethics create relationships between people, create a moral value for teamwork in a group of employees, better relationships between employees and employers; these are benefits for the business as well as the employees-happy workers result in better productivity.
Ethics has also created many acts and legislations in the UK to protect consumers, employees and employers so that all working environment are argumentatively safe, unlike previous decades and working standards in third world countries. Without the moral values of each other, society would become a mess of greed and selfishness. Keeping up with market demand is continuous; many businesses have to follow success of others in order to survive. A successful invention causes others to copy; pressure is then put on to the original in order to stay ahead on the market.
The first mobile phone invention has now been updated and evolved into an I-phone 4G, enable a connection across the whole globe. A wrong act is committed to copy the clever idea of the mobile invention, but has caused millions upon trillions of trade and business in the mobile phone category and has also turned into one of the vital piece of technology each person has today. Counterfeiting has been introduced in the last century to prevent exact copies of another idea/product, yet China still produces an extortionate amount of ‘fake’ copies in a year leading from brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton, to selling human-made eggs.
Many documentaries have been produced regarding these counterfeit fakes being sold illegally in China and imported into the UK, yet thousands of tourists visit these illegal malls to buy the fakes. However in the UK it is much less of an issue, legislations fine heavily these illegal sellers if caught so have lowered the chance in the matter occurring. Ford was one company who developed a change for their employees through trial and error. The managers saw that the turnover rate of their workforce was extremely high, and realised it was due to the stress and hatred the employees were feeling towards their job.
In 1914 Henry Ford made the change to cut down the working hours from 9 hours per day to 8 hours, and double the wage pay. This made Ford famous internationally, causing the famous name Fordism. 3 From this was can see that Ford’s employer had taken into account the ethical issues of his business, creating a change to help his own business by thinking of his employees. Despite this, Ford also employed many inspectors to check up on his employees, strict rules were made to control his employees – such as no talking to others whilst working.
Outside work, Ford also made the inspectors check up on the employee’s lifestyle, their homes and what they did with their time outside of work. 3 Things that didn’t satisfy Ford he would fire, such as employees drinking or always being debt. This of course was believed to be highly unethical and would not take place in our society today. The large competitive supermarket industries in the UK such as Tesco, Asda and Morrisons all sell similar products with the aim of being the cheapest.
Each one strives to compete with the others causing their prices to be kept low, buying from cheap suppliers, paying cheap labour in third world countries to keep production of goods low, cutting down staff for self checkout machines etc. In order to maintain their prices low (or make them lower), Tesco have been known to have labour in sweater shops in third world countries to produce their Cherokee Clothing, labour in Africa growing crops but being paid only just enough to survive. The workforce here is mostly children working long periods a day for very little money, a salary which would be illegal for UK workers.
Richer nations see this often as unacceptable, how people can be paid such low money for working in such poor conditions, but they are possibly earning money for the whole family to live on. Natural disasters cannot be prevented; so many people in this world are less fortunate and have different standards of living to the better off. Tesco also are under pressure to keep their prices low, so if Asda and Morrisons can sell their products so cheaply then Tesco will find their way to do so too. It is the ethical question to how to prevent these things which are hard to prevent, and to try and help each other live equally. A survey of workers at an Aldi supplier in Indonesia for example revealed: •90% stating their wages were insufficient to meet their daily needs •55% stating they had no written contract, and •40% reporting trade union repression. ’ Similarly, stores like Aldi and Lydl are reaching their profits selling their misleading products, which are all made to look like a well known brand. Their brandings are cheaper, and their labours are also paid poorly, causing their business to keep up during the recession for being cheap. Their work force in Indonesia is also seen as unacceptable and has drawn attention to the media in 2008.
The Fairtrade organisation is an established group which has been built up in the recent years to ensure workers are being paid what is believed as ‘a fair salary’. It started up aiming to help the employees which are not receiving a fair amount of reward as they should be for doing their end of work. For products to earn a Fairtrade label they must pay producers a fair price, and help improve working conditions investing in sustainability. Many consumers now only buy Fairtrade items as it overcomes the ethical dilemmas known about supermarkets suppliers’ working conditions.
Its ethical aims and objectives have successfully been profitable and there are now increasing amounts of Fairtrade items on the market. Pressure groups are external society factors which could influence business activity. Some pressure groups may be less demanding than others, for example selling real animal fur to Tesco’s would not be an issue, but selling addictive products such as Tobacco could be a responsibility to tackle. Pressure groups are mostly a group designed to stop/prevent something being done or product being sold, such as testing drugs on animals.
Ideally, they believe their morals are correct which is why they are forcing it to a stop. It is hard for supermarkets to prevent every unethical matter; most Tesco’s medicines must have been tested on animals before it can be given to humans, but they could cut down necessity of hurting animals if possible. Gillette, a maker of razors and shaving products has been known to test their products on animals. Several other companies have tried to prevent the problem of health on animals, but Gillette has continued with the idea and agued if hey need to satisfy consumers and stakeholders they need to continue with their animal testing. This is a difficult issue as some people would argue that it is more important to ensure human beings safety first, there it is acceptable that it should be test to benefit people, whilst others would mention to minimize the harm to animals to test on them only when it is necessary. The Body Shop started by Anita Roddick in 1976 is a large skin and health care international company. The products sold by the Body Shop ensure that none of its products have been tried or tested on animals as they contain natural, botanical ingredients.
Many consumers buy this idea and their recycling (refilling) aims which has made it one of the largest skin product retail chains in the market. The smell of their natural ingredients and the ethical value behind their creation of the products create a vast favour to customers, yet also being a successful business. A supermarket business will nevertheless affect many stakeholders. A good profitable year would create more jobs, happier shareholders, and happier customers. Profits may be high, customers may be more willing to spend more on luxury goods, suppliers receive more trade, but it doesn’t last forever.
Recession will occur every few years, causing all of this to have to cut down. Managers will have to cut down staff, finding the smallest reasons to dismiss employees, unethically. Suppliers will need to be providing their service as cheap as possible; otherwise declined. They will insist to trade with large businesses and therefore be under pressure to offer illegal or terrible working conditions for the labour such as in third world countries to win the supermarket’s choice, unethically. The old man down the road from Tesco may lose his job trying to compete in selling home grown groceries as his only source of income, unfortunately.
As a result, large supermarkets trying to compete to survive will have to help itself, without questions morality in most cases; it is therefore argued that successful businesses are managed unethically. On the other hand, the ethical decisions that could be undertaken yet still are possible. The managers should choose the course of action best for the stakeholders in order to satisfy them for a successful business. It is the stakeholders that allow a business to be successful; without employees, suppliers and consumers, there is no trade able to occur.
Managers need to look after their staff, for example give them a reasonable salary, abide within the legal working hours, keep their working conditions at a satisfactory level, give them some privacy as well as some security (Lockers, data protection etc), health and safety etc. Keeping employees happy will result in a more productivity by the workforce. Managers also need to consider the eyes of a consumer, i. e. Good satisfactory quality products, no misleading titles, descriptions or information, clean premises, health and safety regulations etc. If they do not abide to these, customers may not return or even sue them.
Similarly, managers need to also treat their suppliers well, they cannot expect to owe suppliers month after month as it could threaten their survival, and instead create a good relationship with them if they wish to have better credit rating and discounts. Sometimes ethics and moral values are what guide managers to their decision makings. If they consider ethical values to change something then they are most likely to expect a positive result. When managers recruit their staff, they will be looking for a particular type of person or personality to take on the job role. However, sometimes this could lead to discrimination.
Some small town Kebab shops often put up posters mentioning they wish to recruit a staff member with the same race as themselves, allowing easy communication. This is against the Employer Discrimination Act by law it should not be allowed. In large businesses we see this much less, the language used isn’t considered acceptable-to only allow to take on a job if you are the correct race, and neither would asking for a particular sex or religious belief-unless a good reason is given. Nevertheless when asking for a particular target, it shouldn’t be made obvious to offend people, nor should it be made so blatant to make people angry.
Managers also need to consider moral views to selling their products. Beech-Nut was a maker of baby-food who was close to being bankrupt in the 1980’s. The company took out a contract with a low-cost supplier of apple juice concentrate, but was later found to contain quantities of corn soup. The managers insisted in carrying on selling the misleading product to keep their business alive, but later was caught and fined heavily for fraud. It is easier to be ethical without anything to hide, than to mislead or commit fraud to sellers. Sometimes honesty may take a longer route to get around, i. e. o receive instant sales, but in the long-run dishonesty could lead to serious matters, just like Beech-Nut. In summary, successful management in business is tough, but to be fully ethical in everything is even tougher. In this world in order to succeed, sacrifice is committed; success does not require ethical conduct. People in poor countries strive in life to try and survive, stealing from others, committing all sorts of crime. It is very hard to have good management in a firm if to be completely ethical, it’s the survival of the fittest in the animal kingdom, survival of using tactics in business.
If one needs to gain, someone else might be hurt. Nevertheless we do see society changing in many ways due to ethics, which is why the majority of life is different compared to when humans first existed. Irrespectively, organisations should still acknowledge the ethics in the world to create the right initiatives. Mutual respect and trust can provide goodwill between relationships with people and trade. Adhering with ethical values can be seen by consumers which in the long term will benefit rather than working with evil.
Being truthful and trustworthy also gains goodwill by consumers and employees towards a business. We can see that although Innocent Smoothies may not be gaining as instant profit in the short run when first set up; after it has been promoted well people begin to see the moral values inside these ‘innocent’ pricey products. They have reached a high profit margin in a few years time, and encouraged other companies to begin producing ethically as they do- degradable packaging, natural ingredients, and giving 10% profit to people who ‘need it’.
The majority of supermarkets in the UK now sell Innocent Smoothies as it is a fast selling product yet a choice which everyone is fond of. Overall the benefits of ethics in business are being able to manage and strengthen the balance of society and the culture of organisations. Apart from bringing trust into relationships between groups and teams, the morals and values which human beings have in our country can be seen as safe to live upon. Ethics can create a profitable and effective business, and has been discovered more this century as the world is constantly improving.