Ethics, does it mean anything to businesses in today's society of social and economic behaviors? Defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, ethics is "the study of general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by individuals in their relationships with others; a set of moral principles or values" (Morris, np). Ethical practices include giving back to the community, honesty, and integrity. Opposite to this are unethical practices which are violations of governmental regulations, fraud, falsification or destruction of company records, and employee theft. Businesses in the 21 st century have to deal with ethical and unethical issues that come into the workplace on a daily basis and have to strategize on how to keep the best interests for the customer and the company.
For long term success, trust and honesty must be established between the employee members and the customer relationship to the company. When a customer is interested in a company's product and goes to them for advice, should a company give them the right advice or should they mislead the customer in a way that would be to the profitable interest of the company? This is where ethics comes into play by a decision by decision basis. Some questions of "what is right for the customer and what is right for the company," come in mind to make the right decision. Having first hand experience in a large banking organization, there are thin lines that cannot be crossed in a financial institution. For example bankers are required to sell products in some financial institutions. Bankers will offer a product such as "Overdraft Protection." This service is set up through a credit card.
Some unethical practices were being done in this banking industry, by not telling consumers overdraft protection was a credit card. The bankers would apply the customer for the coverage and a credit inquiry would have to be done however the customer didn't know that there was a credit inquiry pulled. If the customer got approved for the protection, without knowing the bank had to inquire on their credit history, they became upset and refused the credit card for that specific reason. The banker had failed to tell the customer exactly what was going to be done in order for the customer to acquire the benefit. The customers that didn't get approved for the overdraft protection were later sent a letter stating that they had been declined. This caused bank customers to be en flamed that there was a credit inquiry report and the decision made by the banker.
The consequences of this unethical behavior resulted in disgruntled customers, friction between managers and employees, and future failures to be ethical. This unethical behavior was later addressed and handled. Ethics is not only for the customer's sake, but for the organization itself. Another unethical behavior is internally is with employee theft and dishonest employees. Employee theft is one of the most costly forms of unethical behavior internally. Electronic companies such as Best Buy and Circuit City have programs to help them from consumer and employee theft which is known mostly as LP or Loss Preventions.
Best Buy has a loss prevention program called "Shrink Stomper." Shrink Stomper is a way for employees to help the organization stop fraud, by being more aware of their surroundings at work and looking for unethical behavior with customer and employee theft. The incentive for the employee is that they get a cash bonus if they keep theft to a minimum. Employee theft at not just Best Buy but in many organizations, and is on the rise because of factors such as the economy, low wages, and bad working environments. From a 2001 report, Retail Industry states that "the latest National Retail Security Survey reports that losses from employee theft have reached record levels and that total inventory shrinkage cost U. S. retailers $32.
3 billion last year, up from $29 billion the year before. It also states that "46% of losses are from employee theft" (2001 National). Internally issues have to be handled within the organization. Customers however don't have the first hands on experience if they haven't work in that environment.
Customers get to experience ethical and unethical behaviors if it is practiced on them. Car dealerships have a bad reputation of their own when it comes to ethics and honest business. When consumers step into a car dealership lot, they immediately get swarmed with salespeople. The motive of the salesperson is most likely not the interest of the customer, it only seems that way with the way that they talk and use special techniques for you to buy from them.
Cars are one of the biggest purchases a person will make in their lifetime, so it is a crucial process and communication is the most important skill needed to make the deal. The salesperson might twist or say, "don't worry about I will take care of that later," or "we will you get you the best deal out there," they make false promises and under deliver the product. After several hours it is know known to the consumer that he / she didn't really mean what they said. With all the unethical practices in business, there are some organizations that are ethical, that believe in trust and honesty works.
An ethical business that comes to mind is "Ben & Jerry's" ice cream. For over 40 years Ben & Jerry's have been practicing good ethical behavior. From Ben & Jerry's website, they have three mission statements, production, economic, and social missions. The Social Mission statement is "to operate the company in a way that actively recognizes the central role that business plays in society by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life locally, nationally & internationally" ("Our Mission"). This honest business statement only means something if it is put into practice and it has, and it works. Stated in the 2001 Social Audit, "Ben & Jerry's contributes a minimum of $1.
1 million dollars to the Ben & Jerry's Foundation, adjusted upward annually for sales growth and inflation. The Ben & Jerry's Foundation is a separate entity from the company. For 2001 this contribution amounted to $1. 2 million dollars" ("Our Mission").
Ethical and honest behavior of a business, in Ben & Jerry's example, brought more business than before, because of the honest and integrity of the practices. When businesses and customers meet to make a transaction with a product or service, ethics will play a role in every circumstance. It is up to each side to make the right or wrong decision. Transaction by transaction a process of how to handle the situation at hand will have to rely on ethical and the integrity of the organization.
The results in every decision, ethically or unethically, will ultimately result in the way it was transacted. Works Cited "2001 National Study Shows Losses From Employee Theft Reach Record Levels." Retail Theft Report. 2001. Morris, William, Ed. The American Heritage Dictionary.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1975. "Our Mission Statement." Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc.