The Explorer IV rig is one of three oil exploration facilities owned and operated by a large U.S. drilling company (Ciulla 221). The rig's structure and design is marked by notable segregation between U.S. expats and local Angolan workers as evidenced in galley size, dormitory privacy and, not least, hierarchical arrangement (by assigning expats to higher levels and local workers to lower ones) (Ciulla 221). Logistically and medically, U.S. expats and local Angolan workers receive different attention: where U.S. expats are moved by helicopter and are rushed to a British R.N. medical service, local Angolan workers spend 18 hours reaching Explorer IV by boat and receive medical service by an on-site medic (Ciulla 222). Notably, Angolan government officials associate with expats, overlooking working conditions of local Angolan on-site (Ciulla 222).
II. Ethical Model Application
Before judging on ethicality (or not) of current case, a proper identification of ethical issue at stake is required. If anything, an apparent discriminatory handling of a diverse workforce is present. Specifically, in a facility owned by a foreign (i.e. U.S.) company operating on a national (i.e. Angolan) jurisdiction, U.S. expats are apparently granted better working conditions compared to local Angolan workers. This discrimination is manifest, as noted above, in galley and dormitory settings and design; differential logistical and medical services; and apparently preferential handling by local regulatory authorities (i.e. Angolan government officials). Thus, in producing an ethical judgment on current case at hand, a Personal Ethical Model (PEM) has been developed over early weeks of present course.
The PEM is, in effect, a Three-Test model: (1) Absolutes Test, (2) Legal Test, and (3) Moral Philosophies Test. The Absolutes Test covers areas of non-negotiable standards, i.e. issues deemed (personally) wrong. These issues, for current purposes, include: loss of life incidents, severe physical injury and. The Legal Test explores legality of apparent discriminatory practices between workers of diverse national and professional backgrounds on Explorer IV. The Moral Philosophies Test explores ethicality of current practices on Explorer IV from teleological (i.e. outcome), utilitarian (i.e. public good), egoistic (i.e. personal interest), deontological (i.e. duty or intent), public relations (i.e. corporate image) and reasonable person perspectives. III. Absolutes Test
IV. Legal Test
Historically, Angola has a chronic concentration of elite power (Ovadia). This power concentration has let to, if anything, an unequal wealth distribution. In current case, Angolan government officials invariably associate with U.S. expats, a given which highlights how power and foreign investment in an underdeveloped country as Angola are interwoven as to maintain status quo for ordinary Angolans as evidenced in unfavorable working conditions. Moreover, given current case, U.S. expats and Angolan workers are distinguished by different "rig policies" applied to accommodation, logistics, medical care and, not least, attire (where Angola workers are dressed in grey overalls, U.S. expats are dressed in red coveralls) (Ciulla 222).
The case for workplace discrimination is, indeed, complex. To establish one party is legally bound to offer equitable handling of personnel (particularly of diverse backgrounds, as in current case) is at best challenging. If anything, establishing if "discrimination" based on different accommodation, logistical, or medical arrangements on an oil rig operated by a U.S. company in an "underdeveloped" country (i.e. Angola) problematizes issues further. In an interesting case, U.S. Court of Appeals (Fifth Circuit) ruled that “raw pranks, crude practical jokes" by co-workers do not amount to harassment claims resulting in forcing a black offshore oil rig worker into quitting (Leap and Smeltzer). The employer, according to court ruling, is not responsible for employee actions (Leap and Smeltzer).
V. Moral Philosophies Test
Interestingly, code of ethics is an undeveloped area in business studies (Helin and Sandström). This conceptual – and practice gap – is particularly significant in oil industry. Given oil industry's complexities and stakeholder multiplicity, a proposed PEM could be one more step into exploring business ethics practices in oil industry. The following is, accordingly, a preliminary effort in order to understand business ethics in an oil industry context form multiple perspectives.
Teleologically, no one apparently complains. The segregation of spaces, activities does not, in fact, appear to disrupt workplace day-to-day activities. Moreover, "blackness" does not appear to amount for much in binding "brothers". In current case, nationality (U.S.) overrides ethnicity. However, unequal workplace privileges are apt to disrupt workplace peace, particularly under stressful conditions. Overall, outcomes are not likely to be favorable for different stakeholders.
Transparent political and legal climates and practices are apt to spill over into business practice across different industries. Given current case, apparent discrimination in handling an international company's workforce is attributed largely to a long history of complacent corruption in Angola's oil industry. Moreover, from a business perspective, cooperate social responsibility is apt to not only enhance a company's brand image but also, more significantly, embed ethical codes as integral components of business practice. In longer range, investment in business ethics makes a strong business case in future market expansions.
Ciulla, Joanne B. "Case Study: The Oil Rig." Ethical Issues in Business: A Philosophical Approach. Eds. Thomas Donaldson, Patricia H. Werhane, and Joseph Van Zandt. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2007. 221-222. Print.
Helin, Sven, and Johan Sandström. "An Inquiry into the Study of Corporate Codes of Ethics." Journal of Business Ethics 75.3 (2007): 253-271. Springer Link. Web. 16 January 2016.
Leap, Terry L., and Larry R. Smeltzer. "Racial Remarks in the Workplace: Humor or Harassment?" Harvard Business Review, November 1984. Harvard Business Publishing. Web. 16 January 2016.
Ovadia, Jesse Salah. "The dual nature of local content in Angola's oil and gas industry: development vs. elite accumulation." Journal of Contemporary African Studies 30.3 (2012): 395-417. Taylor & Francis Online. Web. 16 January 2016.