At the end of an interesting series of lectures like these, one is usually left wondering: Why did the lectures have to come to an end? How shall I make sure that the lessons I learnt in the lectures remain vivid in my mind? Are there ways of inculcating this in real life situations? The lessons are supposed to be internalised so that they leave an indelible mark in the life of the student. In the series of lectures, we have been studying values, ethics and sustainability. But the question is, what are these? Do they exist in reality or are they just studied in theory? The business dictionary available online at http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/values.html defines values to include the long lasting beliefs and ideals which are shared by members of a certain group or culture and which concern the dichotomy as to what is good or bad for the people or what is desirable or undesirable for the same group of people.
Regarding the business, therefore, values would be looked at in the perspective of those acts that the employees, managers or the stakeholders of an organization do for the sake of the organization. Ethics on the other hand, are defined in the Merriam Webster dictionary available at http://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/ethics to denote a code of good conduct and its synonyms are morals, norms and principles. Ethics in business would, therefore, include the manner in which various parties in an organization carry themselves around guided by the code of ethics and good morals. Business ethics and values are, therefore, the cornerstones for sustainability in business.
In this paper, I will summarise what I learn during the lectures that we went through in class, make my vision statement regarding my expected ethical behaviour and values in my future endeavours in business and also state my current and future contributions to the society, based on what I have learnt in the series of lectures that we have been having this semester.
Part 1: Definition of important business terms and summary of topics
Chapter 5 discusses the nature of ethics and how they control business activities because they are relative and can change over time. As discussed in Chapter 4, ethics deals with the choices of right vs. wrong that people make in their personal and professional lives. However, organization business ethics is choices influenced and guided by standards, rules, values, principles and strategies associated with business situations. As a society's ethical beliefs change, its laws change to reflect them.
The chapter encourages business people to behave ethically because companies that are known for their ethical behaviour enjoy a good reputation. Also, the government and taxpayers have to protect the stakeholders at their cost if a company does not behave ethically. That's not to say one doesn't always go against their own sense of morality, and sometimes we make the wrong choices. The ethical dilemma may relate to the most simple of ethical issues, but it can also involve more complicated issues as well. The 'ethical dilemma' will involve all associates in the organization and a multitude of issues. Many organizations attempt to control ethical behaviour through ethics training. Ethics starts with the leadership of the organization. If leaders and executives behave unethically then the employees will also. Good leaders in any organization have a consistent set of values to be an effective leader. Leaders need to ask the hard questions of their own values and beliefs, making in my opinion, that honesty is the most important part. Ethics is much more than a code of conduct, and it starts with leadership. I think leaders can create a positive and productive culture in their own organization based on their own code of conduct.
With regards to Joe’s paper, I think that going with your gut and doing what you believe is right will be the case, because a lot of times when you have to make an important decision, it comes down to your gut. No matter what anyone else says, no matter how intense the situation, you have to listen to your gut. However, it goes back to having a good ‘core’ of values and morals to make good decisions. Joe is right, lies and fraudulent acts will catch up to you, so I think integrity is everything.
Chapter 16 deals with employees and the corporation. This chapter in essence talks about the rights for employees in an organization. What I found interesting is the privacy rights and how they’re challenged by employers towards the employees. When privacy rights issues arise, management needs to handle them ethically and to protect their employees and company. Privacy rights, as defined by the textbook, are business policies that explain what use of the company’s technology is permissible and how the business will monitor employee activities. Organizations need to understand the law when dealing with privacy rights. They can easily find themselves in a bind with lawsuits resulting in a collapse in reputation.
Kevin’s paper demonstrated how employers infringe on employees privacy rights. Employers intrude on Facebook pages to research employees. I agree when Kevin states “if an employer wants to take it among himself to do some research on an employee, that’s completely up to them.” They have the right to research, but that right can create judgment towards an employee or future employee
I also read an interesting article concerning privacy rights. Google Inc. has been in touch with data-protection regulators about a European Union court ruling last week that may require it to remove personal information from search results.
Chapter 4 on the other hand, discusses the concept of ethics. Ethics as defined by the textbook is a conception of right and wrong conduct, serving as a guide to moral behaviour. Ethics is learned at an early age. As Alexis stated “When parents or guardians stop with the values they were using those times they slowly start to disappear.” People need guidance and learn what is acceptable and what is not.
Ethics occurs everywhere especially in the business field. A business has an obligation to its consumers, stakeholders, employees, and society as a whole. A business needs to be honest and trustworthy for their reputation to rise. When reputation rises, then sustainability occurs.
What I found interesting about this chapter was the four major types of ethical reasoning when analysing ethical dilemmas. The approach is a guideline for companies to use that will mould their thinking on ethical dilemmas. “The guideline should help them (1) identify and analyse the nature of an ethical problem and (2) decide which course of action is likely to produce an ethical result” (Lawrence and Weber p.83). Virtue, the first method, explains if faced with an ethical dilemma, it is the right thing to do based on values. Then it goes on to the next method, utilitarian. This method explains will it cost or benefit the company. The third method is rights and explains if the organization has the right to do something based on their ethical dilemma. The last method is justice and explains the distribution of shares. For example, employees need to be compensated for the amount they’ve worked.
- Definitions of key terms emerging from the readings and presentations
- Drug Testing- This refers to the testing of employees, by the employer, for the presence of illegal drugs, sometimes by means of a urine sample, saliva, or hair follicle analysed by a clinical laboratory.
It is a technical analysis of a biological specimen, for example urine, hair, blood, breath air, sweat, or oral fluid / saliva – to determine the presence or absence of specified parent drugs or their metabolites. It is also known as drug screening.
These definitions have a clear inclination of what a drug test is. It’s to detect any illicit drugs, if any, that are present in an individual’s body.
- Privacy Right- business policies that explain what use of the company’s technology is permissible and how the business will monitor employee activities
It is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby express themselves selectively
With these definitions, it shows how broad privacy act is. The first explains the work privacy such as emails, while the other explains the individual’s personal privacy that is secluded from work related activities.
- Ergonomics- adapting work tasks, working conditions, and equipment to minimize worker injury or stress.
It is a science that deals with designing and arranging things so that people can use them easily and safely. It is also referred to as biotechnology and it is the study of the relationship between workers and their environment, especially the equipment they use.Ergonomics deals with the interaction of employees and their workplace. This is something an HR professional would look into.
- Health Administration (OSHA) –This is the U.S. federal government agency that enforces worker safety and health standards. It is the field relating to leadership, management, and administration of public health systems, systems, hospitals, and hospital networks.This deals with employee health and safety in the workplace. This is an important sector because sickness is an everyday thing. The definitions are to the point in enforcing worker safety and health standards.
- Labour Union- this is an organization that represents workers on the job and that bargains collectively with the employer over wages, working conditions, and other terms of employment. In the Merriam Webster Dictionary, it is defined as an organization of workers formed for the purpose of advancing its members' interests in respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions.Labour unions are often industry-specific and tend to be more common in manufacturing, mining, construction, transportation and the public sector.These definitions give a clear understanding on what labour unions are. Labour unions are used to help increase wages, create better working conditions, and create a safe work environment. Overall, labour unions assist the workers for fair employment.
- Business Ethics- This is the application of general ethical ideas to business behaviour. It is a form of applied ethics or professional ethics that examines ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that arise in a business environment. It applies to all aspects of business conduct and is relevant to the conduct of individuals and the entire organization. It is the study of proper business policies and practices regarding potentially controversial issues, such as corporate governance, insider trading, bribery, discrimination, corporate social responsibility and fiduciary responsibilities. Business ethics is often guided by law, while other times provide a basic framework that businesses may choose to follow in order to gain public acceptance.
- Affirmative Action- a positive and sustained effort by an organization to identify, hire, train if necessary, and promote minorities, women, and members of other groups who are underrepresented in the organizations workforce. It refers to equal opportunity employment measures that Federal contractors and subcontractors are legally required to adopt. These measures are intended to prevent discrimination against employees or applicants for employment on the basis of colour, religion, sex, or national origin. Affirmative action assists with eliminating discrimination in the workplace. It creates equal opportunities for all individuals.
- Equal Employment Opportunity- the principle that all persons otherwise qualified should be treated equally with respect to job opportunities, workplace conditions, pay, fringe benefits, and retirement provisions (Textbook).
- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal law enforcement agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination. The EEOC investigates discrimination complaints based on an individual's race, colour, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, genetic information, and retaliation for reporting, participating in, and/or opposing a discriminatory practice.
- This term is a great attempt to eliminate workplace discrimination. When a law is enacted, then it means it’s a serious concern.
- Diversity- variation in the characteristics that distinguish people from one another, such as age, ethnicity, nationality, gender, mental or physical abilities, race, sexual orientation, family status, and first language (Textbook).
It is the condition of having or being composed of differing elements: variety; especially: the inclusion of different types of people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization (Merriam and Webster).
In today’s society, people need to understand that there is a diverse crowd of people. But they forget that they’re the same being, a human.
Part II: A Summary of short cases and their implication on future managerial responsibilities
First of all, I read the Alcoa case and learned a lot about how a company developed their culture by really sticking to their mission of safety first. This company really stuck to their agenda and created an environment for no tolerance of being reckless. You know, if my husband or close family member worked in a place where accidents frequently happen because of the nature of the job, I would feel better and proud that the company values everyone so much. I agree with Joe that firing that manager in Mexico was justified because of the way the company valued safety and implemented it throughout their organization. They had a reputation to uphold. This also means that in my future managerial role, I have a responsibility of upholding the safety of all the people in the organization.
The other case I read is titled “No Smoking On the Job.Or off” in Chapter 16. Here, Chapter 16’s closing case discusses how organizations are adopting an antismoking policy. The case begins with Pennsylvania’s Geisinger Health System adopting the policy in 2012 to no longer hire smokers. The case states that applicants who had been offered a position would have to take a urine analysis to screen for nicotine. If they failed, they would be allowed to apply again in six months. A representative of Geisinger states “We’re trying to promote a culture of wellness.” I agree with this representative because Geisinger is in the health care industry. What better way to promote business with employees that are fully committed to their health and the health of the patients? As Kevin stated “their purpose [for the policy] is to make sure people are living long and healthy lives.” But this can take a turn for the worse (Lawrence and Weber). In the case it states Pennsylvania, where Geisinger was located, did not have laws prohibiting to hire smokers or from firing employees who continued to smoke. Individuals can sue for job discrimination.
This case states that other employers are not refusing to hire smokers, but are charging them more for health insurance. I believe this is the way to go. It is true that smokers cost more for their employers in the sense of health insurance. “Smokers, on average, cost their employees $1,800 more per year in health care costs, and lost twice as much production time” (Lawrence and Weber p.376).
Employers shouldn’t have the right to ban or restrict smoking by their employees at the workplace. As I stated earlier, companies should charge more for health insurance, especially for Geisinger, whose state didn’t have an antismoking law. Not everyone is perfect and to not hire a possibly talented and outstanding employee because they smoke is astray.
The other case that I read it titled “UNAUTHORIZED IMMIGRANT WORKERS AT CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL RESTAURANTS.” Here, Chapter 17’s closing case was about workplace diversity. Chipotle, a fast growing restaurant, capitalized immensely in the market. Some analysts believed “that one of the reasons for Chipotle’s strong performance was, as the news service Reuters put it, its “uncanny ability to hold down labour costs” (Lawrence and Weber P.400). Analysts were criticizing Chipotle and many others for unauthorized immigrants to work for low wages.
The U.S. caught on to what was happening and slowed down the unauthorized immigrants from working in the U.S. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted raids at workplaces targeting foreign workers who didn’t have proper working papers.
I believe that unauthorized immigrants can’t be a form of workplace diversity. Immigrants are from a different country and culture. But they aren’t citizens of the country they’re working in. This conflict is based on technicalities with citizenship and working papers. If the immigrants were citizens of the U.S. then we can assess the situation to be a form of workplace diversity.
Part III: Vision Statement
After undergoing these lectures, I am determined to be a person guided by good morals and high moral standards. It is not enough to just study these values and do an exam. There is more than that. There is need to put all this into practice and this will be seen in my future role as a manager. From school, I know that I will be expected to join the job market and these are the values that will guide me through. A person of high integrity and good morals always finds it easy to fit into the job market unlike a corrupt, immoral and unethical person. My family will also expect me to set a good pace of good morals for the rest to follow. I also hope to be a manager in future and this will entail a lot of good morals and ethical standards. The lessons will, therefore, be of good help to me in future.
Part IV: values, ethics and sustainability: lessons from case studies
Many lessons are derived from the case studies that I have read. First of all, the Alcoa case that I read teaches me that it is always paramount to uphold a culture of safety for every person in the work place (Brown, M. E., Trevino, L. K., & Harrison, D. A.). A safe workforce is able to work responsibly for the benefit of the organization and, therefore, is a future manager, I will have a role to play to ensure that the work place is safe for everyone. This is part of the Corporate Social Responsibility, which is the role of every organization to ensure that the environment is safe not just for the workers but also for the outsiders.
The second case on chapter 16 teaches me that there is need to put in place anti-smoking laws in an organization. This is because not all workers smoke and, therefore, having some workers smoke is not healthy for the other non-smoking workers. These are some of the lessons that I found useful in my future role as a manager.
A good leader must always lead the way for the other people in the organization to follow suit. This is only possible if they uphold good morals and ethical standards for the sustainability of the organization. The lessons were, therefore, enriching for me both as a student and as a future manager.
These lectures were not in vain. When I remember what I knew before attending these lectures and what I know right now, there is really a lot that I have learnt, right from the substance of ethics and values that I learnt, the business terms and definitions that I learnt, the case studies that I read and the leadership skills that I have been able to adopt from the lectures. I am now a totally different person and ready to face the future with confidence. It has been a good learning experience for me as a student and as a person who is preparing to become a future manager. The Corporate Social responsibility skills that I have learnt and the leadership skills that I have come across will be the guide.
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