Corporate Social Responsibility Assignment

You don’t have to look very far in today’s climate to be faced with an ethical decision whether it be buying your groceries, choosing a car, or how much of your waste you recycle. These decisions are also happening at a Corporate level, companies like the Co-op, HSBC & the Body Shop’s success are built on the back of their ethical standing. At a recent overnight stay at the Jury’s hotel, a tent card in the room spelled out what the company was doing across all of its hotels to reduce its carbon footprint. Ethics and values are important components of most professions.

Ethics provide a moral compass, whilst values reflect those things to which we attach worth, those things that matter most to us and drive our behaviour. Some people and organisations have a stronger moral compass than others. Ethics don’t always comply with peoples values. Values tend to be more narrowly focused. They can be either ethical or unethical. For example companies may each have a mission to drive their environmental protection policies but the overall mission is to maximise profit for its shareholders. The two may be in conflict.

Ethical considerations are often wide ranging and relatively global in their appeal. We are all increasingly seeing a moral imperative to protect the environment. Ethics are often dependant on national culture. For example, in the UK bribery is culturally frowned upon where in some countries it is the way that business is done. Companies based in these countries have an ethical dilemma. Do they stick to the rules of the game and use the bribe to secure contracts or do they loose those markets?

Analysis of Milton Friedman

At first sight, it would seem that the words of Friedman point towards a capitalist system which focuses purely on money and nothing else. However, after extensive reading of the topic, it would seem that Friedman was certainly right when he suggested that “there is one and only one social responsibility of business” since the qualifiers which are given for this are quite extensive. It can be shown that “the rules of the game, free competition” and not deceiving the employees are not only rules which keep business from exploiting others; they are also good business decisions for companies like GE and many others (Colvin, 2006).

Of the three qualifiers to making profits, the first one is the process of “staying within the rules of the game”. These rules have certainly changed drastically over time and the idea of exploiting workers for all they are worth is clearly not within the rules. It would seem that neither ethics nor social responsibility has a lot to do with it. The case of being good to employees makes fundamental business sense (Torrington and Hall, 1995).

In the long term, employees who are secure in their jobs are likely to work harder and be more productive than employees who feel insecure in their employment. Similarly, employees who are paid well and rewarded with bonuses for good performance and motivational rewards will naturally perform better than employees who are only given a basic salary and no chance to increase their income as a direct result of the hard work they put in for their company (Boxall and Purcell, 2003).

For individuals there may be times when the applied ethics and values of the organisation conflict with the ethics or values that the individual holds. This may present a bigger problem when the individual has responsibility (for example as a Manager or L ; D Professional) not only will that individual need to model the behaviour associated with the organisations ethics and values, but also ensure others do so to. At these times of conflict there may be an issue of real conscience with which to deal. Does the person stay and influence the organisation or leave?

At times when your personal values and organisational values or ethics seem to clash the existence of professional instituted ethics and values through codes of practice can prove useful support, either to allow you to stand back and be more objective when things have become overemotional or to have the reassurance that you are not alone in your belief system. ethical dilemmas for individuals working in the Human Resources Department where the interests of the organisation as a whole may be in conflict with the interests of individuals working for the company. Karen Legge (1978) descibes this conflict as Deviant Innovator.

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