Question 1 Discuss the arguments associated with whether a corporation can be held socially responsible.
Answer – A corporation can be described as a group of sub-ordinates where they perform as a single entity. Corporation acquires similar rights and responsibilities but not identical to what an individual acquires. For example corporations can enter into a contract, they can borrow money, recruitment etc. In order to answer whether a corporation can be held socially responsible or not we then have to look and assess the arguments associated with it. When I talk about arguments I am referring to the arguments in favour and arguments against whether a corporation can be held socially responsible.
Arguments in favour whether a corporation can be held socially responsible Arguments against whether a corporation can be held socially responsible
Corporations are not only responsible for making profits but also they are accountable towards the consumers, suppliers, employees, the community. As per Milton Friedman corporations does not have any social responsibility other than making profits. (Shaw, Barry, Issa, Catley & Muntean, 2016, p. 167)
Community prospers more superior from employment opportunities and similarly on the other hand corporations benefit from the community as it is the source of its workforce. Corporations doesn’t have the expertise and lack the potential that is required to serve the community and therefore would be imposing their own rules and regulations on to the society.
If corporations enter to serve the community they will demoralise further government rules and regulations and therefore would result in more democratic and more adaptability in terms of decision making process for the corporations. Arguments such as ‘invisible hand’ by Adam Smith, ‘let the government do it’ and ‘businesses can’t handle it’ favours arguments that are against whether a corporation can be held socially responsible.
After looking at different aspects of both the arguments favour and against whether a corporation can be held socially responsible, I would like to conclude by saying that a corporation can be held socially responsible because they have the same status and function the same way in the community as human beings.
Question 2 What is corporate social responsibility (CSR)? To whom does it apply? Compare the broad and narrow views of CSR.
Answer – Corporate social responsibility was the concept of the provided theoretical support for the transformation in business management from striving for quantitative expansion to striving for qualitative expansion in the late 1990’s. CSR aspires to encourage a positive impact on the environment and stakeholders including customers, staff-members, groups and etc. In other words it can be defined as looking at the environment and the communities where the corporations go beyond their financial and economical obligation. CSR should be applied to all the corporations as they have the same status and they function in the same way in the society as human beings. It is not only applied to the owners or stockholders but it is also applied to employees, suppliers, clientele, local community, environmental groups. It can be said that CSR is considered in today’s modern world as everybody’s business.
• The social responsibility of a corporation is profit maximisation.
• Arguments such as ‘the invisible hand’, ‘let government handle it’, ‘businesses can’t handle it’ follows a narrow view towards CSR.
• A corporation has no social responsibility towards the community.
• As per the corporation’s perspective they lack the expertise and the skills to look after the community and therefore would only be imposing their own rules and regulations on to the community. Broad View
• The corporation’s objective should be to go beyond their financial and economical obligations to look after the community and the environment.
• It has been also called the social entity model or the stakeholder model. (Shaw, Barry, Issa, Catley & Muntean, 2016, p. 168)
• In other words corporations have responsibilities towards consumers, employees, suppliers, community.
• Corporations have tremendous amount of resources which can ultimately lead to the betterment of the community.
Question 3 Discuss the role that the English clothing retailers play in the plight of the factory workers e.g. How much responsibility (if any) should they take?; Do you think the corporations that buy goods from the sweatshops are taking a broad or narrow view? What about the consumers’ role?
Answer – It is seen worldwide the clothing retailers don’t own any factories and that is why it is often said that they are not responsible for the conditions in the factories. As per my understanding the clothing retailers should be considered responsible because at the end it is the retailers who makes decisions on which factory will produce their goods and at what price, how much the workers will be paid and in what conditions they will work and survive. They are liable for the safety of the workers and also for the factories where the garments are produced, need to focus on the codes of conduct and need to make sure that these codes are implemented properly, need to provide duty of care. As an individual I believe that they need to step up and show accountability for their actions. From the examples that I have witnessed I believe that the corporations only think about one aspect that is profit and from the views towards CSR we have discussed in the class it can be seen that they favour narrow view towards CSR which is profit maximisation. The corporation’s recipe to success is simple as they enjoy huge amount of profits by opening new stores in different locations, there stock prices have reached a remarkable height, and they create a positive image for their brands which gets them loyal customers in return and they make sure that their products are made as cheaper as possible. The consumer’s play a very important role as they should educate themselves more in depth about who the manufacturer is and under what conditions the products are made. For example they can stop buying products from those retailers who are exploiting their workers. As they have the power to drive change and if they stop buying products the message will be heard loud and clear.
Question 4 Assess the argument that if the factories were boycotted, the factory workers’ circumstances would be even worse?
Answer – As per my own perspective I believe that if the factories were boycotted the circumstances of the factory workers would be even worse. It can be seen from the documentary that those people who are working in the factories are working hard to earn money so that they can support themselves and also earning livelihood for their families back home. The factory workers have now been accustomed to work 8-10 hours a day and sometimes work 7 days a week. The more the workers do the more they will earn to send back to their families. If the factories were boycotted the circumstances of the factory workers would be even worse as there are so many jobs involved in the factories the workers will lose their jobs and also keeping in mind the problem of unemployment over there. If the workers lose their jobs they will not be able to support themselves as well as support the livelihood for their families. The factory workers only priority is earning. It is believed that there are around 20,000 small scale manufacturing factories among the clusters of beehive hutments. The workers’ lives can be improved by providing access to clean water, improved sanitation, waste management services, a better quality of life, working with the factory owners to release children from work so that they can go to school, better working conditions, a safe and secure working environment, along with providing better infrastructure, wider roads, and better drainage systems, by offering minimum wages. This can be achieved by working with the local authorities and other service providers for the sustainable provision of basic needs, through local people and also municipal authorities to provide them basic needs such as safe water, sanitation etc.
Question 5 Imagine that you are the purchasing manager for a large boutique chain. Your manager has made it very clear that you should buy goods as cheaply as possible. You have seen Blood, Sweat and T-shirts and are aware that the factories that sell the cheapest clothing are similar to the sweatshops in the programme and you do not want to buy from them. Because you believe that everyone should be paid enough to support themselves adequately.
a) Why would this present an ethical dilemma for you?
Answer – An ethical dilemma is a decision-making problem between two moral imperatives, neither of which is unambiguously acceptable or preferable. The complexity arises out of the situational conflict in which obeying one would result in transgressing another. So therefore, as per my perspective it would present an ethical dilemma because on one hand obeying the manager’s order would mean exploiting the workers, as it can be seen that in the sweatshops they are given less pay. The basic needs, requirements of the workers are not taken care of, and earning maximum profit is the main objective of the big clothing brands. And on the other hand if I desire to go against my manager’s will and get the work done from a place other than these sweatshops then in that situation my boutique would have to bear additional expenses and this will also be morally incorrect as I have a responsibility to serve my organisation in the best possible manner.
b) What duty (if any) do you, as a business professional, have to consider the factory workers?
Answer – As a business professional I would consider implementing duty of care towards the factory workers. It is about us as in the business professionals having a moral obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of others. In other words it can be described as protecting the health and safety of workers by eliminating the risks or if not try to minimise the risks that arise from work and workplaces. So therefore, duty of care would be my primary purpose towards the workers as a business professional in order to conduct a business. As it talks about providing a working environment that is without risk to health, providing appropriate wages so that the workers can support themselves and their families adequately. If the workers are working long hours then I would consider paying them at penalty rates, providing them better education, training related to workplace health and safety. As a business professional if I am not able to provide duty of care towards the factory workers then I will be morally wrong.
Question 6 – Assess the use of sweatshops using Kant’s theory?
Answer – Sweatshops can be defined as a term that is unfavourable as it reflects on the workers that are given very less wages, are made to work under poor conditions and that too for long hours. It can be seen clearly from the documentary that workers work very long hours in dangerous conditions and in return they are given a very low pay which is almost equivalent to £3. Many big corporations in countries such as United States of America and United Kingdom are considered as great examples where they are seen using sweatshops labour in countries such as Bangladesh, India, China, Pakistan and Vietnam etc. so they could make their goods at a lower price. In order to support themselves and their families financially the factory workers are forced to work longer duration of hours in dangerous working conditions. Kant’s ethical theory is based on three aspects which are means vs ends, universal acceptability and goodwill. In mnemonic terms it can be classified as ‘MUG’. Kant described ‘M’ Means vs ends as rational creatures should always treat other rational creatures as ends in themselves and never as only means to an ends. (Shaw, Barry, Issa, Catley & Muntean, 2016, p. 65). In other words it can be said that means vs ends focuses on in order to achieve our own goals and objectives we should never use others. It can be seen from the documentary that the corporation’s major objective is profit maximisation and they are willing to go to any extent to achieve it even if it comes at the expense of the factory workers. The corporation’s actions clearly justify that they are using the workers only as means because they are using them unfairly, forcing them to work longer hours in dangerous conditions instead of as an end which requires looking after their good such as a necessity of providing a safer working environment, and also giving them appropriate wages. In all circumstances we should treat others the same way we wish to be treated which represents mankind among ourselves and in others. In order to summarise ‘means vs ends’ human beings should not be treated just as mere commodities to accomplish any corporation’s goals or objectives with no thoughts of their own goals and interests. Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative which is defined as a principled command that is necessary universally requires us to act in a manner where we can justify our actions into a universal law. (Shaw, Barry, Issa, Catley & Muntean, 2016, p. 63). If there is something that needs to be considered a universal law it is always better to ask if all rational beings would accept or not to live as per that law. Similarly in the use of sweatshops everyone has to be considered in making a universal law so even if a stakeholder or a sweatshop in-charge argue that their only interest is the low price of their products and nothing else, but what if the roles would have been different, what would have happened if they (stakeholders or managers/ in-charge) were the ones working in those miserable dangerous conditions they would definitely feel differently. They would definitely not accept that living in accordance to that universal law. As per Kant nothing should be taken away from the workers working in the factories but the laws or the system should be made more democratic and kinder. In order to summarise the universal law it is very critical that when you are making your rules to live by you must be critically certain that these are the rules you want the rest of the world to live by. An example can be seen where ‘working in those dangerous conditions is not right, then under no circumstances is it all right to work in those conditions’. The third and the last factor in this mnemonic term ‘MUG’ is goodwill ‘G’. As per Kant if one thinks that he or she is doing something because it is considered good, it does not make the act good. There should be more that should be done to it. The only term that is considered very critical as per Kant in doing something good is having an attitude, having a sense of duty behind doing something good. Only then our actions will be considered as having moral worth. Our actions will lack moral worth if we don’t do it from a sense of duty. In another words it can be said that this concept of goodwill is about having a desire to do the right thing. If one is doing something good just for the sake of some reward that is involved in it then it will not be considered a form of ‘goodwill’ as per Kant. There is no other aspect in this factor of ‘goodwill’ other than doing it because it is your duty. Similarly in the use of sweatshops they are not performing an act of goodwill because there is no sense of duty involved. They are not acting from the sense of duty that is to be fair and honest. They are not acknowledging the humankind of workers in the factories who are being used and being exploited.
Question 1 Discuss the arguments associated with whether a corporation can be held socially responsible.