Pizza Hut: Managing Ethically

Workplace ethics is one of the most important issues today as it determines privacy and confidentiality. Every employee can expect workplace safety and healthy working conditions. If it can be agreed that ethical behavior is legal behavior plus some other element, then it is important that this additional element be identified, if possible. At first blush, many people will probably agree that this additional element is the collection of moral principles and values of what is right and what is wrong and what is good and what is bad, as determined by group behavior or by some member of the group. At this point of definition, it appears that one’s behavior is ethical if it is legal and by group norms (Smart and Williams, p. 63). Based on discussions and some recent philosophies, this is what many would have everyone believe. This definition is, however, short-sighted and flawed in that it does not clearly define “group” or the standards and values upon which the “group ethical norms” are based. For proper business and social conduct, these ethical standards and values must be shared by not only individuals but by the total business community and society as a whole1Without agreement by all parties involved, the only legality exists to control the actions of everyone.

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The father of the chief of a small restaurant was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and died. This information became available to the company. The main moral problem is that the restaurant will have to pay for probable treatment and pension funds if the same disease is diagnosed with their chef. The company’s management instructed the lab to screen this chef for AD but did not inform the chef about this test. In terms of ethical and moral principles, the company violates them and abuse the personal rights of the employee. A larger group of corporate executives, however, conceded that their testing programs had encountered some difficulties. Legal considerations also rank high in the decision process. Many corporations say they have initiated testing procedures to detect applicant or employee drug use–or are now leaning toward such a strategy–because they are worried about their legal liability in the event of drug-related accidents or incidents2Some employers already have faced costly legal battles, while others anticipate them because of the types of jobs their workers perform. Publicity surrounding drug incidents in such industries as nuclear power plants, airlines and trucking firms, and a variety of man-factoring settings–to say nothing of the growing drug-crime link–has certainly raised the public’s awareness of the potential for danger when drugs are present3In addition to high visibility in the media, businesses also pay attention to statistics on the high cost of workplace drug use–including data on lost time, accidents, drug treatment and related health care expenses, employee theft, and the like. Available national estimates can be persuasive, and a few employers also have gathered compelling statistics about conditions in their own companies. The case does not provide the information about results of Alzheimer’s disease tests and the causes of employee dismissal. The chef can be fired for other reasons which have nothing to do with Alzheimer’s disease tests and the disease of his father. Thus, this information is not so important because the problem of the case is that the company violates the abuse rights of the employee4.

Utilitarianism is referred to by some as the consequentialist ethical theory. It is expressed in the form that asserts that people should always act to produce the greatest ratio of good to evil for everyone. As with Pigou, the utilitarians believe that when choosing between two actions, the one that produces the greatest net happiness should be the one chosen. Where most of them disagree with one another is in the area of how this principle should be applied. There are also several stated weaknesses in this concept. It ignores actions that appear to be wrong in themselves; it espouses the concept that the end justifies the means; the principles may come into conflict with that of justice (utilitarianism seems to associate justice with efficiency rather than fair play), and it is extremely difficult to formulate and establish satisfactory rules of application. Hardly a day goes by without picking up the newspaper and reading of someone or some business involved in fraud, price gouging, kickbacks, negligence, pollution violations, or any number of other illegal or unethical practices5. What is being done about this and what should be done about this by businesses, the government and the academic community will be briefly examined after first looking at what the public thinks of the ethical and moral climate of the nation and its major professions.

The duty of confidentiality requires that information provided to the restaurant management shall not be disclosed without the specific consent of the client. For example, plans about future corporate activity must never be used for personal advantage: secrets may not be sold or bartered. A corollary of this duty is what courts call privileged communication. Autonomy ethics suggests that the company and the chef should protect their rights and freedoms thus each of them should follow autonomy rules and prevent intrusion in the personal lives of each other. This concept states that a professional may not be called upon, in court or in another legally constituted body, to divulge confidential information. For example, a lawyer may not be compelled to testify about her client6.

The problem is that how does the chef perceives problems at the workplace and what particular conditions contribute to their decision to develop drug-testing programs? It seems clear from the Board’s survey that business executives who hold different views about the severity of drug problems are certain to have different attitudes and responses toward drug testing. It is also clear that the nature, size, and location of the business also help shape the company’s response. In case of dismissal, the employee can file a suit against the company based on illegal practices and violation of his rights7. On the other hand, if tests are positive and the AD disease is determined, the company will have to fire this chef because of safety and job-related risk. The danger is that Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by uncoordinated, jerky body movements and a decline in mental functions. These conditions can appear accidentally and can create a risk for dozens of employees and the safety of the environment8.

Based on findings, testing is a strategy not lightly undertaken. Many players are involved in researching the issue, and the investigation usually takes months–sometimes years–before either a positive or negative decision is reached. Although there is some indication that firms seriously considering, but ultimately rejecting, the concept of drug testing concludes their investigations more quickly than do companies that adopt testing programs, only a fourth of all employers required less than six months to make up their minds. In a third of the firms, at least a year elapsed before a decision was made.

The chef should leave the company because of safety concerns. Management patterns for testing programs reflect the corporation’s organizational structure and reporting relationships. For the most part, drug testing is a headquarters-driven program. The corporate staff is responsible for developing the policy, and administrative authority for the testing program remains at the corporate level. Top management is directly linked through the chain of command to the program’s operation. It is possible to use mass media to inform other people about the choice and possible dangers of ignoring such problems as genetic neurological disorders9.

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Pizza Hut is the restaurant chain I am familiar with. I suppose that this organization should pay more attention to the privacy of customers and employees’ rights. Rights to privacy and due process usually refer to the invasion of a person’s private life and/or unauthorized release of confidential information about the person. Job applicants, employees, customers, and many others, in most instances, believe that their political, religious, social, and private life and beliefs should not be exposed or subject to snooping analysis. Some areas people consider as threats to their rights of privacy involve lie detectors, disease, and genetic testing, medical examinations, testing for and control of alcoholism and drug abuse, junk mail and unsolicited telephone calls, the revelation of confidential records, surveillance devices, and computer data banks. Only lie detectors, drug abuse, and drug testing, medical examinations, alcoholism, and alcohol treatment, and AIDS will be examined at this time. Before examining these areas, several helpful policy guidelines for dealing with privacy might be helpful.10

These guidelines include: (1) only relative, necessary, and useful information should be recorded and retained in the files; (2) the employee or person should have access to examine the records and be able to challenge their accuracy, all under the Freedom of Information Act; (3) there should be no secret or unknown files or records kept of the person; (4) the information keeper is responsible for its accuracy; and (5) information should be released only to those who need to know, and any information that is released outside of the organization should be done only with the person’s knowledge and permission )11. The code of ethics is based on the principle of “the standard of care”. This code of ethics involves moral and social responsibility issues, fair attitude towards customers and colleagues. Clients have no choice but to rely upon their lawyers for expert advice. But this also means that clients are rarely able to assess the professional’s competence12

Following Plato’s ethics, happiness and overall good are the aims of the good life. Virtue is the main priority of every individual, so the company should be virtuous to meet the idea of happiness and good life. The state that Plato envisioned was a happy state and a moderate state. Everything was fine as long as it stayed this way; however, if the people started wanting too many goods or luxuries, and the fixed amount of land would not produce it, then the expansion would become necessary; the need for expansion would eventually and inevitably lead to war. The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is highest among manufacturing, public utilities, and transportation firms, and lowest in the financial-service sector. Consistent with this industry pattern, it is not surprising that companies with drug-testing programs tend to have male-intensive workforces. They also have a high proportion of skilled craft and production workers and a strong union presence13.

Aristotle supposes that all people were not equal. He believed that there was a more intelligent master or ruling element and a ruling element or slave. Among slaves and barbarians, he believed that the female and the male were equal and occupied the same lowly position; whereas, in the ruling class the female was higher than the slave but was below the male and served primarily as his mate. In terms of Aristotle’s ethics, man should be virtuous and follow the highest norms to reach happiness. In this case, the company should inform the chef about the testing and receive his approval of these practices.

Deontological ethics can be explained as rule-based morality. The practices that violate the rule but lead to positive and desirable actions are wrong. Studies indicate that most business managers and people believe in the Golden Rule and use it as their most important guide to ethical behavior. In simple terms, it mandates people to treat others as they would like to be treated. If you want to be told the truth then you tell the truth; if you want to be treated fairly, and then treat others fairly. Since most countries and religions of the world have some form of belief that comes close to the part of the Golden Rule that relates to treating others as you want them to treat you, then in theory if properly adhered to it can personalize business relations as well as bring fairness into business. The only problem with this is that unless all parties involved also believe in and adhere to the Ten Commandments there may be marked difference in what constitutes fairness, love, charity, and justice between the parties whenever any exchange situation exists. Without a common foundation upon which to build, there are bound to be many differences and many problems14.

In various combinations, the factors outlined here may contribute to a company’s decision to launch a drug-testing program. They also undoubtedly are responsible for other company initiatives in the war against drugs. But some other considerations were found to be distinctly less important15. For, In addition, a significant majority of the respondents denied being swayed by success stories about government/military testing programs. When asked what reasons employers had for their decision not to test, the ones most frequently mentioned are the threat of legal action challenging the testing procedures or issues involving the employer-employee relationship. Other major reservations concern the accuracy of the tests, testing’s inability to measure impairment, the potentially negative impact on employee relations, and perceived incompatibility with the firm’s philosophy. The issue of corporate culture is a particular stumbling block for the financial services industry, where respondents also tend to minimize the extent of drug use in their workforces, even dismissing drug testing as unwarranted. In well over half of the companies, the testing policy and procedures are uniform throughout the organization and the program is administered by headquarters staff. In another third, individual business units within the firm maintain operational control over testing procedures, but a corporate manager coordinates these activities and reports to top management (Smart and Williams, p. 63). Company officials note that uniformity in the testing process is critically important, and restriction in the number of laboratories and personnel involved is one way to minimize deviations. Those members must hold to the principle of independence in fact and the principle of independence in appearance. Members who are not in public practice are required only to adhere to independence. This recognizes that maintaining independence in appearance with one’s employer is impossible16. A satisfactory utilitarian justification of this case or any ethical dilemma will balance good consequences against bad consequences and come up with an appropriate decision that maximizes good consequences17.

Because of the depth and complexity of many of these subject areas, only some of the more pertinent aspects of each area will be discussed. Working to achieve equal employment opportunities in the workplace and overcome job discrimination through affirmative action programs is an important social responsibility of most companies. This definition permitted the employer to impose any requirements on the job as long as they were imposed on all groups; however, by picking the right requirements it was possible to reject certain groups of people. Finally, the courts have redefined employment discrimination also to mean “unequal impact.” Ethical values and virtues are held by the intellectual authority figures in the accounting community. These professionals have succeeded in the profession and hold the highest positions in their respective offices. This does not imply that each one who succeeds in accounting possesses all the virtues. Rather, it means that as a group these persons possess all the virtues and, further, we would expect a successful individual to possess or at least appear to possess most of them. To state that a particular virtue is not found among the highest levels of the profession is to imply that virtue is not held by the profession itself. The profession benefits from cultivating the recognized virtues and ethical values among its younger members, since accounting will not long survive as a recognized profession if the public perceives that the pursuit of monetary gain is its only aim. Values and virtues are passed along in the accounting community through mentoring. The close personal ties that accompany mentoring provide fertile soil for teaching to accept the mentor’s viewpoints18.

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Duties of self-improvement are the most difficult duties of restaurant management to translate to an organization. Duties of self-improvement rest on the issue that one can improve his/her condition concerning the good value or intelligence. An example is the practice of organizations paying the cost of sending managers to universities to improve their skills and knowledge (Sims, p. 33). Utilitarians would undoubtedly argue that such achievement is taken to improve profits through lower costs generated from the better manage the organization expects to receive from better-educated managers19. Organizations would undeniably justify this practice on such utilitarian grounds. Though, the ethics must truly be stretched to translate an individual manager’s education to the bottom line. A more credible explanation for such things as classes in human relations might be found in the desire to fulfill a duty for self-improvement. For example, one could argue that by failure to improve managers’ knowledge of ethics, a corporation has caused the public to incur a greater risk of unethical conduct by the organization20.

A commonly held and frequently cited moral rule is that business organizations must make profits. Total impact provides the broad classification into which the deontological basis suggested here will fit. The classifications scheme could take the form of accounts set up for each of the duties that an organization has chosen as applicable to it. Since doing one’s responsibility has an associated impact upon profit, an account would also be created to summarize those effects over periods. The restaurant chief is a key manager involved in assisting management with the task of setting responsibilities and with monitoring progress toward meeting such responsibilities. The codes of ethics field settle norms and conditions of work and industry requirements. The ethics concept underlines that acting in a manner that produces the greatest amount of love, fulfillment, and “the standard of care”. That is, it contends that ethical action is the one that produces the greatest amount of love of all the alternatives available. In some measure, any morally wrong act of a member of the profession affects the whole field because by its very nature, has advanced itself to society as a special society, deserving special privilege and therefore have special responsibilities. The final determinant of the ethical worth of any belief is one’s own belief and justification that supports it. It emphasizes what is popular instead of what is necessarily correct or incorrect. Rather than offer an ethical judgment that is binding on all people, at all times, everywhere, it is flexible and variable in every situation.

Bibliography

  1. Beauchamp, T., and Bowie, N. (eds). Ethical Theory and Business, 7th edn, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003.
  2. Boatright, J. Ethics and the Conduct of Business, 2nd edn, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001.
  3. Buchholz, R. and Rosenthal, S. Business Ethics, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000.
  4. Carroll, S. and Gannon, M. Ethical Dimensions of International Management, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2004.
  5. Crane, A. and Matten, D. Business Ethics: A European Perspective, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  6. Donaldson, T., et al. Ethical Issues in Business, 7th edn, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002.
  7. Frederick, R. (ed.). A companion to business Ethics. Blackwell Publishers, 2002.
  8. Froomkin, M. The Death of Privacy? Stanford Law Review, 2000, vol. 52, p. 1461.
  9. De George, R. 1999, Business Ethics, 5th edn, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  10. Gogoi, P. The Trouble with Business Ethics. The Business Week Online. 2007. 2008.
  11. Kotler, Ph., Lee, N. Corporate Social Responsibility: Doing the Most Good for Your Company and Your Cause. Wiley; 1 edition, 2004.
  12. Mahoney J. “An International look at business ethics”, Journal of Business Ethics, 1999, vol. 9, no 7, pp. 545-550.
  13. Sherman, N. Aristotle’s Ethics: Critical Essays. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1999.
  14. Sims, R.R. Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility: Why Giants Fall. Praeger, 2003.
  15. Smart, J., Williams, B. Utilitarianism: For and Against. Cambridge University Press, 1990.
  16. Trevino, L., & Nelson. Managing Business Ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right (4th ed). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2007.
  17. Wood, A.W. Kantan Ethics. Cambridge University Press; 1 edition, 2007.

Footnotes

  1. Buchholz, R. and Rosenthal, S. Business Ethics, (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2000), 87.
  2. Buchholz, R. and Rosenthal, S. Business Ethics, (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2000), 87.
  3. Beauchamp, T., and Bowie, N. (eds). Ethical Theory and Business, 7th and, (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2003), 43.
  4. Boatright, J.Ethics and the Conduct of Business, 2nd and, (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2001), 41.
  5. Carroll, S. and Gannon, M. Ethical Dimensions of International Management, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2004), 81.
  6. Crane, A. and Matten, D. Business Ethics: A European Perspective, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 91.
  7. Donaldson, T., et al. Ethical Issues in Business, 7th and, (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2002), 55.
  8. Frederick, R. (ed.). A companion to Business Ethics. Blackwell Publishers, 2002. Froomkin, M. The Death of Privacy? Stanford Law Review, 2000, vol. 52, p. 1461.
  9. Mahoney J. “An International look at business ethics”, Journal of Business Ethics, 1999, vol. 9, no 7, pp. 545.
  10. Wood, A.W. Kantan Ethics. (Cambridge University Press; 1 edition, 2007), 65.
  11. Smart, J., Williams, B. Utilitarianism: For and Against. (Cambridge University Press, 1990), 42.
  12. Trevino, L., & Nelson. Managing Business Ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right (4th ed). *Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2007), 82.
  13. Sims, R.R. Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility: Why Giants Fall. (Praeger, 2003), 77
  14. Sims, R.R. Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility: Why Giants Fall. (Praeger, 2003), 76.
  15. Sherman, N. Aristotle’s Ethics: Critical Essays. (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 1999), 99.
  16. Gogoi, P. The Trouble With Business Ethics. The Business Week Online. 2007, 99
  17. Kotler, Ph., Lee, N. Corporate Social Responsibility: Doing the Most Good for Your Company and Your Cause. (Wiley; 1 edition, 2004), 44.
  18. De George, R. Business Ethics, 5th edn, Englewood Cliffs, (NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1999), 61.
  19. Buchholz, R. and Rosenthal, S. Business Ethics, (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2000), 87.
  20. De George, R. Business Ethics, 5th edn, Englewood Cliffs, (NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1999), 44
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