Business Ethics: Nalco Company

Introduction

Nalco is one of the world’s leading water Treatment Companies. The company has committed itself to ethical practice through various documents. The mission and vision statements show ethical commitment to offering high-quality services. Its mission, to offer quality services, and vision, to create lasting relationships with customers show ethical commitment. To show its commitment to ethical practice, the company has developed a code of ethical conduct that is to be adhered to by all employees in the company. The code of ethical conduct outlines the conduct and policies that every employee is to follow. According to the company, any individual in the company who does not adhere to the code is liable for disciplinary action. The company’s values include ensuring security, honesty, expertise, teamwork, modernism and accountability. The safety of both the employees and the consumers is enhanced by prior assessment of risk factors. Actions that may be considered detrimental to either the customers or the employees are avoided as much as possible (Harwood 15). Integrity of the company is maintained by creation of an environment of trust by always letting their action mirror their words. Only qualified persons are recruited in the company, the puts effort to keep up with current technological progress. Finally accountability is demanded from all parties of the companies regardless of their ranks in the company (Fyrwald chap.1). The essay is aimed at finding out whether Nalco Company, a leading water treatment company in the world, meets the requirements of business ethics mostly on environmental considerations, human resource management and finance and accounting (Berharman 19).

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Nalco’s ethical status and commitment towards business ethics

Nalco Water Treatment Company is dedicated to providing high degree of ethical governance in the whole organization. The company has clearly documented how the business code of ethics is followed by the employees as well as the company. The company is committed to ensuring a safe environment by laying down the safety, wellbeing, environment and sustainable guidelines. The company has gone the extra mile of documenting the positive results brought about by the practice of environment safety principles. The results help the company to identify areas that need more emphasis to meet the set goals. Since the year 2004, the number of sickness and work associated injuries has reduced by half (Fyrwald 1). Nalco has adequate information on how the business’s daily activities are run. The intention is to save energy and water, conserve life and improve quality of air. The company also enhances by using modern technology of the treatment process thus making the working conditions for the employees favorable. Nalco Water Treatment Company has elaborate systems that comply with ethical requirements (Enderle 1).

Nalco Company comprises a board of directors who oversee the daily running of the company. This board consists of highly skilled and experienced professionals. Thus, it ensures that only Individuals with a high sense of integrity and loyalty are recruited to join the company’s very competent workforce. It also ensures that all members of staff are legible to participate in the election of the board of directors. This eliminates bias and upholds the human resources management ethics. The audit committee oversees the veracity of all financial matters in the company. Nalco has a marketing team that attends to customers’ needs. The consults with the customers to inquire about any shortcomings in the quality of the products. Wide scope of innovation like technology that enhances smooth communication with the customers and other stakeholders helps the company to meet the needs of the global market. However, the company has not documented the quality of the products released to the consumers. The standards of water released to the consumer should be compared against the WHO standards. This is an ethical loop in the company, which calls for action from the relevant public health departments to verify that the water supplied to the consumer is potable.

The process of production emits poisonous gases; the company has developed a holistic approach to minimize Sulphur Oxide (Sox) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) pollutants. By putting measures which promote optimum combustion of raw materials like coal. In its effort to protect its employers the company is dedicated to increasing the public understanding of the risks of various hazards (Fyrwald 6).

Nalco’s policies and procedures

Nalco emphasizes on ethical conduct of all employees. The code of ethical conduct outlines ethical conducts and policies that are expected to be followed by all employees. The code governs all Nalco employees inclusive of top officers and managers who perform in way that enhances a principled working environment. The policies set require all employees to abide by the rules and regulations. Employees should not engage in illegal transactions even if they are in the interest of the company. The company, together with its employees is required to comply with all the security requirements. The employees should not use Nalco’s confidential information for any personal gain or share it with unauthorized parties. As required by the law, Nalco and the employees should preserve all the information as per the records retention guidelines. Employees should never be involved in fraudulent activities among themselves or with a third party. Nalco employees cultivate a positive working environment. Discrimination due to race, sex, color, marital class, age, faith and disability is not tolerated (Roberst 89). Respect for other employees, customers and other parties is highly upheld in the company. Nalco also advocates for the respect and protection of the customer’s confidential information. Information on the supplies and other business transactions should not be disclosed to the external parties (Bowie 7).

Ethical practice is core to financial management at Nalco. The financial management team is required to operate honestly and transparently. All financial records should be kept safely; records should depict the company’s financial transactions and nature of assets. Policies discouraging transactions that are in conflict with the interest of the company have been laid. No employee or a close relative to the employee is allowed to operate a business that would act as a potential competitor to Nalco. Properties belonging to the company should be protected by the employees and used only in the interest of the company. The company and its employees should adhere to the set rules and regulations that regulate the international trade (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act 2). The employees should not discuss or exchange terms and conditions of the price list for the company with its competitors. The e-mail structure of the company should not be used to send or to receive any prohibited information unless permission is granted by the information technology manager (Fyrwald 4).

Penalties

Any individual who violates the set policies is liable to prosecution in a court of law. The penalty may include fine or prison sentence. The fine can be as much as $100,000 and imprisonment of up to three year are imposed. The company together with the investigation bodies normally conducts thorough investigations before any penalty is imposed. Investigation may involve questioning of friends and relatives, fingerprints, judges’ trial and arraignment in court (Fyrwald 8).

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Company’s responsibilities and commitments toward, environmental considerations, finance and accounting and, human resource ethics.

Environmental considerations

The safety health atmosphere department is committed to providing a safe environment. This is implemented by ensuring safe handling of hazardous waste at disposal and recycling levels. The policy aims at realization of well-being of the customers, employees and the wider community as well. The company has developed a holistic approach to minimize Sulphur Oxide (Sox) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) pollutants. In its effort to protect its employers the company is dedicated to increasing the public understanding of the risks of various hazards (Fyrwald 6).

Reduction of carbon dioxide is achieved by the use of conversions of coal using the company’s Mobotec technology. Nitrogen oxide is reduced by optimizing the level of combustion. Maximum combustion is achieved when the fuel is thoroughly mixed with oxygen. The company uses a ROFA system; which involves several stages of combustion that ensures optimum combustion (Fyrwald chap.10).

Scandal

Despite the company upholding high integrity with respect to employer-employee relations, it was rocked by one scandal which involved Hall; a female employee in the company who had been discriminated against for suffering from infertility problems. Hall took some off time from work in bid to undergo in vitro treatment (IVT) which could help her regain her fertility. This resulted in management doubting her capability in running her duties within the company. Baldwin used her IVT as an excuse for terminating her employment with the company. On filling the case with the district court, the panel of judges passed that infertility was not gendered specific thus the decision made by Baldwin was not gender discrimination. It was after intensive reading of the statutes as well as referring to past cases that the Seventh Circuit panel found that according to the Congress, any actions associated with pregnancy are categorized as gender discrimination. IVT, being related to pregnancy issues were taken as gender discrimination. This resulted in the company being accused of terminating Hall’s employment on gender discrimination bases rather than their argument that she was unable to undertake her duties in the company (Mollica para. 1-4).

Finance and accounting

Nalco has an audit committee that oversees all the financial issues in the company. To achieve this, the company has set the following policies, the committees are required to review the financial charter and submit it for endorsement by the board of directors. The approved document is published on the company’s website and after three years it is made released to the public (Rothmann and Scott 156). Financial statements are reviewed quarterly and reports are made on the findings. The auditing committee manages the auditing process by ensuring that it is neutral and just. It also enhances communication between the independent auditor and the board members. The committee has the mandate to hire and fire auditors on behalf of the company. Any appraisal of budgets plans and change of financial activities is discussed by the audit team and another member of the board of directors (Fyrwald 3).

Auditing is done by an independent auditor to control bias, the company a records retention policy requires all documents to be safely kept for the purpose of accountability. The company has tax compliance policy whereby the independent auditor is permitted to scrutinize tax payment services for the company. The financial status of the company as of January 1st to December 31st 2008 is readily available on the company’s database (Seglin 12).

Human resources

The company promotes safe working environment for the employees by minimizing evolution of toxic substances (Harwood 115). The employees are also trained on the risks associated with the handling of hazardous waste. However, it is not stated how the company ensures that the employees have safety devices to protect them from work-related accidents. Employees who suffer from wok related sickness and injuries are compensated by the company. The company avoids any discrimination as regards sex, race, color and faith. Nevertheless, Nalco does not show the principles which guide the company in recruiting new staff. Respect among the employees is upheld whereby the company clearly stipulates the code of conduct for the employees. Nalco is committed to the ten guidelines of human rights, workforce, transparency and safe environment. By the year 2004, the company had managed to reduce work-related sickness and accidents by half (Harwood 56).

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For a company to successfully realize its objective of upholding business ethics, a good chain of command is paramount. The board of directors is composed of several committees; one of the committees is the compensation committee. The compensation committee sees to it that expenses incurred by the employees due to work-related injuries or illness are paid back (Hartman 32). Formation of committees to deal with different problems explains the good chain of command by Nalco.

Recommendations

Good relationships between employees and employers act as one of the main components that foster organizational growth. The company must have a clear understanding of all conditions and procedures that need to be followed when terminating employees’ tenure. The issue of terminating employees’ tenure based on mere assumption that they are incapable of conducting their duties due to their health conditions may result in the company being criticized for gender discrimination as it happened against the hall. This may lead to organization losing its reputation thus not being able to recruit experienced personnel. There is need for the company to ensure that it has consulted its employees before deciding to terminate their employment. This is because some employees may be suffering from health conditions that may not prevent them from conducting their duties within the company. Terminating such employees would lead to the company engaging in court cases which would be a waste of time and resources.

Conclusion

Ethics covers all facets of a business that are fundamental to the welfare of persons and the company as a whole. Adherence to the set code of ethics is the responsibility of not just the employees of a company, but also its management. Depending on the purpose of the company, the code of ethics of an organization should take into account the various divisions within such an organization (Enderle 16). These areas may include the financial and accounting sector, human resource management, sales and marketing, environment protection, information technology (IT) sector and corporate social responsibilities. Nalco Company has made great efforts to uphold the requirements of business ethics. However, it should improve on environmental protection measures in order to avoid depletion of groundwater. Also the company needs to uphold respect for human rights by avoiding lay off of experts, instead alternative measures to boost the economy should be adopted. The guidelines of the recruitment procedures lacks in the company’s database. Business ethics play a significant role in regulation of activities in the business world. Whether a company is a profit-making or not, the practice of business ethics is fundamental for the smooth running of the company

Works Cited

Behrman, Jack N. Essays on Ethics in Business and the Professions.

Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1988. Print. Bowie, Norman E. Business Ethics, a Kantian Perspective. Blackwell
Publishing, 1999. Print.

Enderle, Georges. International Business Ethics. University of Notre Dame Press. 1999. Print.

Fyrwald, J.E. Nalco in North America. 2008. Web.

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Hartman, Laura (2004). Perspectives in Business Ethics. Burr Ridge, IL: McGraw-Hill.

Harwood, Sterling (1996). Business as Ethical and Business as Usual. Belmont, CAThe Thomson Corporation. Print.

Mollica, Paul. “Hall v. Nalco Co., No. 06-3684 (2008).” Web

Roberts, Solomon. Above the Bottom Line: An Introduction to Business Ethics.

Connecticut: Harcourt Trade Publishers, 1983. Print.

Rothman, Howard; Scott, Mary (2004). Companies with A Conscience. Denver, CO: Myers Templeton. Print.

Seglin, Jeffrey L. (2003). The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today’s Business. Spiro Press.

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