Businesses all over the world have ethical responsibilities to meet in the market segments they operate. Whether the firm is privately or publicly owned, it has moral obligations to fulfill. Societies all over the world have moral standards within which populace should conform. Any business enterprise conducting business in a community needs to ensure that its practices do not compromise the ethical standards of the societies that host them. Furthermore, businesses have the social responsibility to maintain significance and positively affect the communities in whose midst they operate.
Ethical responsibility ensures that a firm is in good terms with all its stakeholders. An ethical business enterprise keeps and fulfills its promises. It does not need lawsuits and legal tussles to undertake its obligations to its stakeholders. In a political platform, such an enterprise keeps a peaceful coexistence with all regimes. It avoids practices that may put its reputation at stake. In societies where corruption is rampant, ethically responsible enterprises avoid engaging in fraudulent practices. Ethical responsibility demands that the firm pays taxes, abides by all legal requirements, treats employees professionally and meets its financial obligations to its stakeholders.
Socially responsible firms keep in touch with the social needs of the society within their boundaries. Such businesses strive to help meet the pressing needs of the societies. Social responsibility pushes the firms to contribute to health issues, infrastructural development and provision of social amenities to their host communities. They often directly or indirectly contribute in activities such as medical camps, water and electricity provision, sports and talent search and academic scholarships. Social responsibility keeps the enterprise in warm relationship with the community around. The long run effect is increased clientele loyalty, a boost in sales and subsequently high profitability.
Many benefits accrue to firm that maintain ethical and legal responsibility. The firms save fortunes by avoiding lawsuits that cost firms millions of dollars. The firm remains focused to its core objectives (Jane 2010, 39). Effective management becomes possible. As a result, an ethically and socially responsible firm always meets its targets. It captures large markets and increases its sales. Responsibility to ethical and social issues keeps the firm in good light. Clientele loyalty becomes irresistible. In addition, a responsible enterprise contributes to the development of the country in which it operates. There is also need to be ethically and socially responsible to sustain a healthy environment and avoid negative externalities associated with wrong production methods.
An example of a listed Australian company considered ethical is the National Australian Bank. The bank is a celebrated institution that bears in mind all forms of responsibilities to the government, customers and the society. National Australian Bank has kept the spirit of corporate social responsibility since its inception. Its core value is to give back to the society what belongs to the society. Its ethical and social responsibility derives motivation from the knowledge that it cannot survive without the customers and other stakeholders.
The company shows corporate social responsibility by actively engaging their staff in employee volunteering. Additionally, the bank organizes frequent community labor programs in which its employees engage in activities outside its premises. They perform community tasks free for the benefit of the society that sustains the bank. National Australian Bank also has corporate responsibility to support community programs either financially or otherwise.
National Australian Bank is so ethical in its dealings that it won Ethisphere Award for the World’s Most Ethical Companies. According to the Ethisphere rating, the Australian company scored highly in ethics and compliance programs. The company has good reputation, innovation and leadership. Its innovations are environmentally friendly and it has superior relationship with its staff. Further, the company has a good relationship with the governance of the country. It has no disputes with any government agency over compliance issues. Furthermore, the bank scored highly in corporate citizenship and responsibility. It has outstanding citizenship qualities and splendid responsibility to its stakeholders. National Bank of Australia has a strong culture of ethics. Its name has never appeared in any fraudulent deal (Klein 2013, 32). It gets and delivers its business transactions in transparent and legally acceptable platforms. The overall rating of the bank ethically is excellent.
In contrast to National Australian Bank, The Just Group is one of the most unethical players in Australian market. The Just Group has brought a phenomenon that is characteristic of China into the Australian boarders. Traditionally, Australian business environment has been a harbor of justice to its working citizens. This reputation broke in 2011 when revelations came out that Melbourne, Myer and The Just Group had formed a syndicate to oppress their workers.
Oppression of workers in The Just Group takes place in a number of ways. The garment producer employs several Australians to produce fashionable garments that have high demand in the market. The workers work for longer hours than recommended by the Australian labor laws. The company takes advantage that its employees work from home. Around 50 to 70% of Australian-made clothes are outsourced to immigrant women who work in backyard sweatshops or from home. The company employs the women who have no other means of survival and overworks them. Those who attempt to raise alarm get fired. Impressionable women who are oblivious of their rights take their place and the oppression chain continues.
In addition to overworking the workers, The Just Group disproportionately compensates its workers. The women, known as ‘outworkers’, are some of the worst paid employees in the country . Despite the fact that some of the workers are highly skilled, the company does not recognize the need to increase their wages. A majority of women are slaves to this oppression since it provides them with the only means of getting income while working from home to take care of their families.
Other than the universal mistreatment of workers by The Just Group, the company segregates against foreign workers. Those who do not speak English are the most vulnerable to the company’s exploitation. According to Ethical Clothing Australia, immigrant women work for up to 17 hours in a day for $5 an hour. They do not know their rights and the company takes advantage of their ignorance (Charles 2011, 43).
Despite the efforts of the government of Australia to curb cases of worker exploitation, it needs a lot of effort to ensure absolute conformity. Government agencies entrusted with ensuring companies adhere to ethical, legal, social and corporate responsibilities need to put in place stringent measures to ensure they meet their mandates.
Alfred, J. K. (2012). Best Placed Companies in the World: World's Most Ethical. Sydney: Stuatr Publishers.
Charles, M. R. (2011). Business Ethics in hte 21st Century. Sydney: Dansion Pages.
Elsama, Y. K. (2013). Ethical Issues In Business Today. New York: Prentice Hall.
Kenneth, McTress Phillips;. (2010). Environments of business world. Business Journal Australia, 33-42.
Kinston, K. S. (2011). Business Environment: its effects on legal, social, normative, ethical and corporate matters. Chicago: Renee & Sons.