The McWane’s business practices, as presented in A Dangerous Business Revisited documentary, is a manifestation of business ethics deficiency and ignorance toward environmental protection. The MacWane Inc. Company’s working conditions and environmental record clearly indicate that the company had many issues unaddressed in their early years of operations. Some of the ethical issues highlighted in the documentary include conflict of interest, dishonesty and lack of integrity, and loyalty against truth. While companies may be claiming to be observing all legal requirements, ethical values are not fully ingrained in the legal system. Consequently, ethical standards require more than legal limits placed by the regulatory authorities.
Conflict of Interest
At McWane, it was a normal occurrence that many of the employees suffered under deplorable and extremely dangerous working conditions at the expense of the company’s owners. Despite making huge profits, the company failed to invest in any safety measures and was even using its influence to defend itself against any liability charged against them by the employees or regulators.
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Dishonesty and Lack of Integrity
The McWane’s management was never honest and lacked integrity in connection to the working conditions of their employees and environmental protections. While these values were put on paper, they were never practiced. Facing numerous complaints, the company kept on denying everything and shifted blames on dead or injured employees. By practicing honesty and integrity, the company could inspire trust and, consequently, build long-term relationships with employees, regulatory bodies, the public, and even customers. Lack of integrity within McWane scared away many potential employees. The common violation of honesty and integrity within McWane made the company dishonorable, and led to huge losses that originated from the legal suits.
Loyalty Vs Truth
The documentary suggests that McWane broke law at will. It is claimed that the company practiced a culture of lawlessness, where no member of the management wanted to take responsibility for any negligence or crime committed. It is no wonder several executives were later convicted for violating numerous environmental, health, and safety crimes. Denying truth made the company have long-term business problems.
Impact on Stakeholders
The aforementioned ethical issues in McWane affected the company’s stakeholders in a number of ways. While many employees lost their lives and some others left with permanent injuries or disabilities, the company suffered in a way that no one wanted to work for them. It reached a point where they had to use ex-convicts to work for them. In addition, the company was charged with several lawsuits which cost them millions of dollars. Bad publicity did not relate well with the company’s long-term business strategies. The communities around the factories suffered from environmental pollution caused by the company’s negligence. Another group of stakeholders are the regulatory authorities which were put on the spot for their inability to enforce the law.
It is apparent that all the stakeholders were responsible for these conditions as it became clear no one openly talked about the conditions. Traditionally, the lack of ethical values originates from the lack of ethical corporate culture within the company. For proper ethical values to be implemented there is a need for ethical awareness, ethical reasoning, action, and leadership. It should have been the core principle guiding McWane which found it difficult to obey the law. The executive’s practice of impunity and lack of any initiative to maintain the laid down ethical standards by OSHA and other regulatory bodies destroyed the company’s reputation.
Definition of Ethics
Ethics are the moral principles that provide us with guidelines on the way we should behave. In the same breadth, ethics in business are the behavioral guidelines that determine the way business entities should carry out their activities or do business.
While social sciences such as psychology and sociology entail the study of human behavior, how mind and personality develop, ethics, in turn, is a subset of social science that strives to shape individuals’ value system and teach the mind to separate right and wrong.
Steps in Ethical Decision-making Process
i.) Identifying the problem. It is important to identify a problem or a dilemma, its ethical, legal, and moral standards. The problem identified must be synthesized and categorized into different levels such as environmental, health, or occupational health.
ii.) Identifying the issues and potential implications. There is a need to evaluate the rights, welfare, and responsibilities of people engaged in any activity. Once these parameters are evaluated, the people involved must be empowered to practice and observe self-determination.
iii.) Showing commitment. Once the problem and issues are identified, practitioners need to have the desire to do the right thing irrespective of the impending costs.
iv.) Showing consciousness. This step involves showing awareness to carry out consistent actions and emphasizing moral behaviors among the people involved.
v.) Showing competency. There is need to collect, evaluate, and develop alternative measures to the proposed ethical conducts.
The Morality of Wiretapping
Wiretapping is the government’s lawful interception in telecommunications without anyone’s consent. Before the passage of the FISA, among other laws, the United States citizens were not given any protection such as electronic surveillance. According to the proponents of the act, no one would get scared of electronic surveillance if they would have nothing to hide. The moral issue is that the government’s intention is to protect Americans whose lives are endangered by covert terrorists. It is the moral responsibility of the government to protect each citizen from criminals. Sometimes criminals camouflage and use the freedom to attack innocent public. While many opponents have argued that the trend is invasive and infringe people’s private lives, the government has defended themselves on this ground and insists that every law abiding citizen should not live in terror.
Investment Brokers’ Practices
An investment broker who accurately states his travel expenses to accomplish a business deal acts in an ethically acceptable way. It would be different if the broker exaggerated the figures spent on transport or gave false figures.
While employers value integrity and honesty from the side of employees, it does not mean that if someone combines his vacation travel and business, it becomes his or her cost to carry. Having integrity is more than just being truthful. Integrity requires that a company and employees adhere to the deeply valued ethical principles in any business situation.
Technology and the Labor Market
The use of any technology is ethical as long as it helps build better lives for people who work with it and for those who consume created products and services. The best way to help the unskilled is to offer them an opportunity to get training in line with the new technology.
Morality of Stalin’s Actions
No culture promotes the senseless killing of humans. It is immoral to defend Stalin’s actions because he belonged to a different culture. The killing of the masses just because they disagreed with particular policies, irrespective of cultural practices, is unethical.
Redistribution of Wealth
While some argue that redistribution of wealth is long overdue, others claim that it discriminates the hardworking Americans in favor of the lazy ones. Proponents of redistribution of wealth argue that it helps follow the natural instinct of fairness among the humans. There is also a belief that when there are so many poor people, the rich cannot have peace due to rampant crime targeted at them. Thus, it calls for just means of spreading wealth to the poor to lift them out of poverty. With redistributed wealth, it is bound to be peace, harmony, and stability among the people.
On the contrary, those against the redistribution of wealth argue that it kills the spirit of the free enterprise provided in the American economy. They argue that the society gives everyone opportunity to work in one way or another, thus people should not be punished by higher taxes just because they have more wealth. Opponents also claim that wealthy people create opportunities for the poor, and it gives the motivation to work even harder. If higher taxes are imposed on them, big companies would not be in a position to hire more workers.
However, it must be noted that redistribution of wealth is not meant to rob the rich and award the poor but to create a just society, devoid of extreme poverty. When the low income earners are empowered, they will create their jobs, hence empower the rich more. This forms the basis for redistribution of wealth justification.
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