Understanding and appreciation of the interrelationship of ethics and business

Understanding and Appreciation of the Interrelationship of Ethics & Business Part Halliburton Scandal. Knowing the rightness and wrongfulness of a conduct is made complicated when ethics is linked to morality that features rules, acts, duties, character, behavior, consequences, etc. This is what had happened to the Nigerian Bribery Scandal that linked the Halliburton Company. In the Halliburton scandal, the company has violated the U. S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act because of their improper advantages considering that the company has paid some of Nigerian officials to gain access in the market in connection to its multi-dollar construction project. This action is deemed illegal and unethical in the context of social responsibility. Furthermore, made payments to Nigerian officials is unlawful and unethical under the act of utilitarianism because the choice selected by the agents of the construction consortium did not generate more pleasure or happiness to the company; instead, it is an extra burden to the company in terms of a lawsuit and settlement. The scandal is all about an unfair bargaining or exchange of a pleasant privilege that involved public deception, bribery, or fraud, which are unethical under the justice or fairness theory. In the theory, justice and morality are indispensable; thus, the action is justifiable if it reflected moral values, and vice versa. Therefore, Halliburton should be prosecuted based on the bribery of Nigerian officials, even though it is one of the defense contractors involved in the war of Iraq. Justice and fairness should be served or observed, so that the company will receive the right punishment for its wrongdoing. Also, it is not enough that the investigation would center on the company’s agents that have pleaded guilty; however, it should also prosecute those in higher positions such as the company’s former President. This is under the retributive or corrective justice in the rights and justice theory. It is observed that the punishment at Halliburton is not fairly executed just like the allegation against Halliburton former president Dick Chaney, which has been settled immediately. On the other hand, the consequentialism theory could also be applied to this issue considering that the consequence or the produced outcome of the action is morally incorrect. Under this perspective, the officials have worked for Halliburton’s interests (i. e., financial gain), even though they are aware that they have deceived the public or the company’s stakeholders. Hence, the behavior of the officials is immoral because they have not been loyal and honest in their business dealings. In terms of Kantian ethics, the scandal is absolutely prohibited because the actions involved are only for the interest of the company and not for the broader stakeholders. In addition, based on the deontological moral theory, the moral duty of the company’s officials is to protect the company’s interest all the time based on established rules or principles regardless of consequences. Even if such action resulted to unpleasant consequences, it is still an individual duty to make a decision considering moral rules. Also, the action does not maximize happiness or produce greatest good for the general welfare. Part 2: Wal-Mart. The utilitarianism theory is all about the maximization of happiness or pleasure; however, the Wal-Mart management has not acted ethically because it did not pay attention to the perspectives of other people in their business environment (i. e., employees, customers, suppliers, etc.), whether their interests are directly or indirectly affected. This action could be attributed to rule utilitarianism because the constant adherence to the rule of giving people low-priced commodities has reduced the happiness of other stakeholders like the suppliers. For instance, Wal-Mart is one of the many large businesses in the world that are charged with various unethical, international business issues like the way they controlled and inflicted pressures to their suppliers for their own advantage or their low prices scheme. The company has pushed their suppliers to meet the supplying demand of buyers; however, it is at the expense of suppliers. On the other hand, the very low price level or controlled price will put the suppliers to uncertain situations where they have no other options, but to cut prices for them to retain as suppliers to large businesses. This action is immoral or unethical under the Kantian ethics considering that the company is using their suppliers for their own advantage. In addition, Wal-Mart has violated the ethics of right and justice v. monetary value considering that they have not treated their employees fairly because their actions are motivated by a financial growth or prestige, which made them an immoral company. For instance, they are keeping the business well-being in exchange of their stakeholders’ interests through downsizing or dismissal of employees, and discrimination in gender, compensation, etc. These various Wal-Mart scandals have embedded in today’s business environment, which questioned the placement of ethics in business operations. On the other hand, Wal-Mart, as one of today’s largest retailers, has social responsibilities toward their stakeholders. It is very evident that Wal-Mart is a socially irresponsible company because they did not abide some legal regulations (i. e., compensation, gender discrimination, unfair practices, etc.), and they failed to maximize the economic value of their stakeholders. All their actions have a negative impact on the company’s operations considering that consumers are becoming more conscious about their product/service offerings and production. Hence, they are not acting ethically under the consequentialism theory because the produced outcome behind the action is morally incorrect. On the other hand, Wal-Mart business practices are also criticized including women and family issues, unjust dismissal, and international business ethics. Women at Wal-Mart are being discriminated in the workforce (unfair labor practices) considering that managerial positions in the company are mostly bestowed to men. Also, the movie showed how the company has manipulated and destroyed the rights of many families, as well as their quality of life. Wal-Mart actions are unethical under the rights and justice theory because many families have lost their livelihood and relied heavily on public assistance or health care because the company did not respect their rights to a fair treatment and position in the community, right to own a personal property, and many more. Also, justice is not observed because the victims are not given due compensation after they have been harmed by Wal-Mart’s operations. Part 3: Whistle Blowing. Ethics has an impact on the day-to-day business operations. In order to come up with right choices, the consequences behind should be known first considering that a morally correct action resulted to right consequences, but a morally incorrect action gave wrong consequences. This is the focused of consequentialism or teleology ethics. For instance, whistle blowing is an employee’s action of disclosing unethical actions, behaviors, or wrongdoings of a company where he or she belongs. Through the consideration of the produced outcome, the employee will be guided on what is unethical and what is not. This is somewhat contradictory to the deontology, which referred to duties of actions performed based on established principles regardless of consequences. The fiduciary duty of employees being part of the group is to act for the latter’s best interest because they are morally correct if they acted based on principles or rules, but when there is a failure, the behavior is immoral. Another ethical theory related to this conduct is the utilitarianism (a form of consequentialism) because the produced outcome or consequence of being a whistle blower gives advantages or happiness to the general welfare, and not just on the group. However, whistle blowing is not acceptable if the purpose is not for the greatest good because based on virtue ethics, the action is considered ethical if the doer does not breach the virtues of honesty, fairness, and integrity in his dealings. Part 4: Trade Secret. Another issue of unethical business operation is the insider trading. When members of the organization are being alleged of exposing or trading the company’s trade secrets, the management administered the necessary needs in its legal aspects believing that they are not guilty of such allegation. Under the virtue ethics, having good virtues and character in order to break bad habits, control actions, and make morally correct decisions will make a decision or action morally correct. Generally, everyone in the company has their own rights to act based on what they believed; however, they should make sure that the action will not harm anyone’s rights under the act utilitarianism. Thus, actions should be well-deliberated, particularly in terms of handling trade secrets because it could harm the company and its stakeholders.