Ethical Environment in Business

ASSIGNMENT: Select one of the issues outlined below and answer the questions. There is no page minimum or limit, but your grade will be based on the depth of analysis, (i.e., is your answer supported by thoughtful reasoning?). Please call or email if you have any questions or concerns.

ISSUE 1: Does blowing the whistle violate company loyalty?

Is blowing the whistle a breach of loyalty to the employer or is attempting to stop unethical company activities the very definition of company loyalty? (Whistleblowing is an employee’s disclosure to government authorities, upper-level managers, or the media that the employer is engaged in unsafe or illegal activities.)

Discussing the Issue

  1. Is blowing the whistle acting in…[explain why or why not for each of the following]

a. the best interests of the public?
b. the best interests of the individual (the whistleblower)?
c. a manner that is least harmful to the company?
d. the best interests of the employer?

ISSUE 2: Is employer monitoring of employee social media justified?

Although an employer needs to be respectful of their employees’ privacy, it also has the responsibility to avoid negligent hiring and negligent retention. Monitoring of an employee’s, or a potential employee’s, social media is a viable way to avoid these potentially serious problems.

Discussing the Issue

  1. Negligent hiring and retention is an issue if a company knew or should have known an employee was dangerous or could pose a risk for the company to employ in whatever capacity they held. Do these concerns justify employers accessing workers social networking personas and to what extent? Is there an equal danger of over and under reaction?
  2. Do you consider social networking sites in the context of current or future employment? Are you careful to ensure that appropriate privacy settings are in place, or are you generally unconcerned about protecting your privacy?

ISSUE 3: Is CEO compensation justified by performance?

This issue takes on the debate over excessive compensation for corporate leaders. The media has focused attention on a few instances in which CEO pay has been excessive. These reports have highlighted instances in which executives were extravagantly rewarded while their companies went bankrupt or became embroiled in huge corporate scandals. In general, the pay of the CEO tracks the company’s performance, so in general CEOs are simply paid to do what they were hired to do–bring up the price of the stock to increase shareholder wealth.

Discussing the Issue

  1. Are compensation packages deservedly high due to the unique nature of executive talent? Are CEOs truly taking a significant financial risk when they choose to lead one company rather than another competing for their services?
  2. In a country with great income inequality, such as the United States, are there some people who deserve to earn tens of millions of dollars each year? Is there something wrong, or distasteful, about these levels of wealth?

ISSUE 4: Are sweatshops an inhumane business practice?
It seems reasonable to speak out on behalf of the countless workers around the world who are subjected to dreadful working conditions and pitiful wages, and yet the situation is perpetuated daily by business practices that many feel are actually defensible. According to the World Bank, about one-fifth of the world’s population lives below the international poverty line. Many of these people work for either multinational companies or the subcontractors for those companies.
Discussing the Issue

  1. Should multinational corporations be held to our developing world standards in their treatment of employees in nations with lower standards?
  2. Does a company have a duty to act in socially or politically beneficial ways?
  3. When the news media expose the sweatshop practices of a leading manufacturer, should we immediately rally around the story and let the corporation know that we soundly disapprove of such practices, i.e., is it the consumers’ responsibility? Imagine that our major corporations were to tell us, “OK, we will continue to use the labor resources in developing countries, and we will improve their working conditions and provide better hourly wages, but you, the consumer will have to pay higher prices (perhaps much higher prices) for our products.” What do you think the consumer response would be?

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