Ethical considerations in business are regarded as the necessary aspect of taking the reasonable and correct decision considering the opportunity of effective customer care strategy, proper advertising, and business development principles. The analyzed case study is closely linked with an opportunity of losing consumers’ trust, the advertisement department does not consider the opportunity of possible deception of the target audience. Hence, the case is associated with the possible QS9001 accreditation of the company, however, it is unknown, whether the certificate will be provided, and whether it will be provided in time. However, the advertisement campaign, concerning this accreditation has been already prepared. The offer, concerning an opportunity to create an alternative promo campaign, was not accepted. Hence, this paper aims to analyze the situation from an ethical point of view.
Ethics and Business
Considering the general aspect of ethics, it should be emphasized that the question of right and wrong, evil and good, virtue and vice presupposes the detailed examination of the case, as depending on the assessment angle and the perception paradigm, the actual result of the ethical analysis may vary. There is no necessity to consider the aspect of normative, descriptive, or meta-ethics (though business ethics is often regarded from the perspectives of normative and descriptive ethics), as the aspects of these angles are too numerous. However, the sphere of applied ethics (business ethics specifically) involves all the necessary aspects that may be used for proper analysis. Applied ethics is closely related to real-life situations, and application of these matters to the analyzed business case will be associated with the necessity to analyze the basics of marketing strategy, customer care principles, and the actual quality of the products manufactured (assessment of the accreditation requirements, and the likelihood of getting the QS9001 certificate).
Considering the aspects of business ethics, and the applicability of these approaches to the case, it should be emphasized that the case is purely dichotomist, as there is no a clearly stated answer whether the elaborated promo campaign is right or wrong. However, business ethics, from the perspectives of metaphysical ethics may be regarded as the necessary aspect of considering business cases. Hence, business ethics should be assessed from the perspective of personal drivers and reasons that originate business decisions: these are closely linked with the necessity to survive, provide a remarkable presentation, and preserve the achieved success. In general, most business ethic approaches presuppose self-action criteria only. As it is stated in Hoffman and Kamm (305)
This approach is almost opposite to that of the individualist. Altruists will disregard their security for the benefit of others. The primary mission of altruists is to generate the greatest amount of good for the largest number of people. The third style is pragmatists, who are concerned with current situations and not with the self or others. It is facts and the current situation that guide this decision maker’s decision. The fourth and final style is the idealist who is driven by principles and rules.
In the light of this statement, it should be emphasized that the actual importance of business decisions, taken from the perspective of business ethics is explained by the necessity of determining the behaviors, and defining the paradigm of norms associated with a business decision. (Kline, 36)
The range of questions associated with the matters of the promo campaign elaborated by the company where the company emphasizes the existence of an unachieved certificate is wide enough. On the one hand, it may seem that the company wishes to trick the audience and deceive their consumers. On the other hand, the CEO is assured that the certificate will be achieved, while the creation of alternative advertisements will cause unreasonable additional expenses. Hence, the fact of possible customers’ deception may be regarded as unethical. Nevertheless in order to state whether it violates the rules of morality, the production quality should be studied. However, if the company deserves getting the QS9001 certificate, there is nothing unethical in the case. From the perspective of individualists’ decision in business ethics, the launch of the advertisement campaign is required for the company’s survival within the competitive market. As an alternative, the ads may be launched after getting the certificate; however, business rules presuppose that delay may cost the competitive advantage of the company and further losses. Losses may cause staff reduction, which is even more unethical than the possible deception of the target audience. The audience may accept the official CEO’s apologies, while fired workers and their families will require compensations.
Business ethics associated with marketing strategies and principles require not only financial and customer care considerations, as per Gale (29), consequential, deontological, and pragmatic ethical considerations also need to be assessed. These concepts are closely linked with the values of marketing ethics consequently, the analyzed case may be regarded from several ethical perspectives. As it is stated in Mehanna and Yazbeck (141):
One impediment in defining marketing ethics is the difficulty of pointing out the agency responsible for the practice of ethics. Competition, rivalry among the firms, lack of autonomy of the persons at different levels of marketing hierarchy, nature of the products marketed, nature of the persons to whom products are marketed, the profit margin claimed, and everything relating to the marketing field does make the agency of a marketing person just a cog in the wheel.
In the light of this statement, the hierarchy within the organization may be regarded as a part of the perception paradigm of the company’s actions in assessing the ethical issues. Ethical choices of the organization are aimed at providing the proper functioning of the company on the market, as well as protection of the employees’ interests. However, the company is also interested in attracting consumers by providing high-quality products and services. The company has an opportunity to offer official confirmation of the quality to consumers; however, the likelihood of achieving this confirmation is delayed and is not fully evident. However, this does not mean that the company is aimed at tricking its consumers. Moreover, business ethics violations may be acceptable if the actions are not repeated periodically and are not associated with gerrymander or violation of civil, fiscal, or criminal law.
The regarded business case is associated with the matters of official confirmation of the company’s manufacturing quality. Because the company does not wish to deceive the consumers and does not pursue some evil aims, the described behavior can not be regarded as unethical. In general, the consequences of not launching the ads may be even more crucial than possible deception, especially if the company has planned the certificate achievement and advertisement launch long before the described events.
The case is associated with the possibility of violating the ethical norms by the employees and CEO of the same organization. The case is based on the premise that the workers have been employed for working 40 hours a week with two days offs guaranteed. However, the growth of the working tasks caused the inevitable growth of the working load. Moreover, one of the team players had to leave the team due to some personal reasons that are not related to the case. The other employees have to work overtime, and managers insist that the working week will be prolonged until the team is extended. Management offers +25% compensation for working overtime, however, some consider these actions unethical. This analysis aims to analyze the case from the ethical perspective and confirm whether the offered compensation is righteous, or the CEO should think over another alternative.
The facts of the problem emphasize the necessity of extending the week, however, these actions are temporary. In general, the work does not require high qualification, nevertheless, a person should be trained to perform the obligations undertaken. Hence, the extension of the shifts will be needed not only for performing the tasks but also for educating the newly employed workers. The probation period is not paid for newcomers; though, employees who are engaged in training will be able to take an extended vacation after the workload is allocated properly.
Up to 50% of employees are engaged in family concerns and have to spend their time with their small kids. Hence, most of them are not able to work overtime. They consider that 25% compensation is not an adequate sum for staying at work while this time could be fruitfully spent within the family. Hence, these measures violate the life plans of at least half of the team.
The particularities of this case are associated with the matters of violated plans, as the employees have not been warned about the possibilities of overtime work. HRM department considered that the shortening of the personnel would not influence the load seriously. However, the situation changed, and this shortage became a real disaster. The company is experiencing serious losses, while the workers do not consider that the offered +25% compensation is sufficient for compensating their broken plans. Most insist on at least double payment (+100%), while some consider that +150% is the only adequate solution. Financial management department agrees for +75% compensation +25% for training involvement.
List of Options
If the workers will not agree to the offered compromise (75+25), who will be able to perform the work required, and who will be able to provide the qualified training of the personnel? The training process may be performed by the most experienced worker, and if this will be the only person, the finance department might be able to provide him/her up to +160% compensation. The work may be done by outsourced workers, or part of the team may be home-engaged.
What should be done if the training will not be effective, or the outsourced work will be of low quality? HRM department should think over the alternatives of outsourced engagement and employ experienced part-time workers. As an option, the company may cooperate with its companions and “lease” some workers, paying compensation to “borrowed” employees, as well as to the companion.
Another option is to address retired workers for help. They may be engaged in training work, or perform some assignments at home. Hence, the problem will be linked with social services and trade unions: how these organizations will perceive these compulsory measures. However, nothing will be done without the consent of the workers, though the actions should be urgent.
The fourth option is linked with the possible harm. Employees who work overtime may be exhausted and the only day off will not be sufficient for effective energy restoration. Hence, the effectiveness of working performance will be decreased significantly. There is no sense in fine employees for this, as the company required their help. The question is who will be responsible for the worsened quality. The answer is – the company will. Hence, management will have to ask workers to be attentive. Moreover, the lowered workload will help decrease the number of mistakes possible.
Finally, the company should think over the risk management issues. How the company will act in a similar situation. It is evident that the harm of such urgent actions is immense, hence the company needs to get insured against unexpected workload increases. This may be performed by employing part-time workers, providing adequate compensations for overtime works and days of working. Additionally, the company will require to provide adequate analytic measures for assessing the possible changes in the market and the corresponding changes associated with the matters of seasonal workload changes.
The actual situation is rather complex for making a definite choice, nevertheless, the actions should be urgent and effective. Hence, the HRM needs to perform several tasks: finding outsourced workers, finding a compromise with workers concerning the aspects of overtime work, and assessing the opportunity of employing training personnel. These actions will provide the most effective solution as well as the most effective resource allocation system. However, it will require time that may not be available for the company.
The only advice that could be made is to prevent similar situations in the future. Unexpected changes should not have such an immense effect on the organization. Hence, the analytical department creation should become No one priority task when the payload is allocated properly. Moreover, the effectiveness of the HRM department should be improved, especially if it will not be able to resolve the situation properly.
The company is not aiming at benefiting by making employees work overtime. This is a compulsory measure aimed at preserving the marketing positions as well as the jobs offered. Failure to regulate the difficulty may cause staff reduction, and the plans of the employees will be violated even more seriously.
Gale, James “A Pragmatic Approach to Business Ethics: Panel Discussion and Author’s Response.” Review of Business 17.2 (2004): 29
Hoffman, W. Michael, Judith Brown Kamm, eds. Emerging Global Business Ethics. Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 2005.
Kline, John M. Ethics for International Business: Decision Making in a Global Political Economy. London: Routledge, 2005.
Mehanna, Rock-Antoine, and Youssef Yazbeck. “Business Innovation, Ethics, and Prosperity: The Primacy of Microeconomics.” Journal of Business Strategies 26.2 (2009): 141