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Running head: “Corporate Ethical Behavior” the answer to labor issues
One of the most important assets for a company is its work force, although it has not been giving importance for many years many managers now agree that “operations” is the backbone of any company; for this reason the ethical and fair treatment of employees is necessary to maintain a highly productive workforce. This paper analyzes different ethical problems that compromise the efficiency of production and how a proactive ethical work structure might be the answer to solve several labor issues.
Ethics refers to the “moral considerations of the activities of a philanthropic organization. Also, standards of conduct and methods of doing business by organizations of fundraising counsel that provide assurances of professionalism in client relationships. A system or code of conduct that is based on universal moral duties and obligations which indicate how one should behave. It deals with the ability to distinguish well from evil, right from wrong”
Ethical behavior has different meanings when looked at from an organizational point of view. Many companies view ethical behavior and social responsibility as a luxury, or something that is not the company's concern, in an interview made to Mike Markkula Currently the owner of ACM Investments, who is probably best known as the former chair and president of Apple Computer, Mike stated that “ethics is a luxury, something a company can only afford after it has already become established. In the rough-and-tumble of a new venture, some entrepreneurs argue, you have to be ruthless to survive; after the IPO is time enough to attend to the niceties of morality”. To this he later added that, "Is it naive to talk about ethics in a start-up context?”. (Markkula center for applied ethics, 2007)
It seems like ethical behavior can be a burden to companies that are just venturing into the business market. In the other hand, some people argue that ethics should be the founding stone of any organization. Ethical behavior promotes people's trust in the company and provides the basics for a better work environment; for example South West airlines has demonstrated that by embedding a predetermine ethical structure in their company's culture they were able to be profitable for 29 consecutive years.
When talking about ethics in organizations, there are usually two ways of approaching the subject one is the individualistic approach and the other is what might be called the communal approach. Each approach refers to a different view of moral responsibility and a different view of the kinds of ethical principles that should be used to resolve ethical problems.
In the individualistic approach every person in an organization is morally responsible for his or her own behavior, and any efforts to change that behavior should be the individual's responsibility. In the communal approach individuals are viewed not as one, but as members of communities that are partially responsible for the behavior of their members. So, to change an individual's behavior we need to understand and try to change the communities to which they belong.
In the following pages we are going to take a look at different ethical problems and what might be their possible solutions:
1) America is tough by many to be the land of opportunity. If the individual pursuits a goal he or she would be given the chance to achieve his or her goal, this is true to a certain extend because a lot of people in America is keep from achieving goals by an invisible barrier called “Glass Ceiling”.
The term glass ceiling was first use in 1986 when two reporters used it to refer to the invisible barrier that keeps women from advancing to senior positions; the same term was later on use for minorities. (Mattis, 1997)
Glass ceiling is a problem that has been around for decades and that nobody knows how to solve. Some experts suggest that glass ceiling does not exist and that is simply an excuse from individuals that are not well prepared for challenging positions in the managerial area. In the contrary of these suggestions most people agree that glass ceiling is a real threat to civil rights and it presents and ethical problem in many organizations due to the selection or hiring process used by many firms in which individual are hired based on their gender, race or nationality.
Laws imposed by the government have been of great help to protect women and minorities form job discrimination but these laws have been ineffective to promote women and minorities advancement to senior or managerial positions.
Based on a s study conducted by Marianne kunnen (1999) at the University of Cincinnati it was found that 44 percent of men have been promoted after 12 years on the job, in contrast to just 15 percent of white women, 7 percent of black women, and 17 percent of black men. The study included variables that could explain this preference for men in promotions including years of experience in the field, educational background, age, marital and family status, hours worked, cognitive skills but only one reason could account for the differences in promotion rates: discrimination.
In the bright side there are many analysts who think glass ceiling is a barrier that could be broken, according to some experts like Dr Ella Bell and Dr Stella Nkomo (1994, pg 3) who state that “removing this barriers will require multilevel action on the part of the government and employers, the government must strengthen its enforcement of equal employment opportunity”. Although it seems that the barrier can be broken it would take mayor involvement from the government, many factors from company's plan implementation would have to change like performance evaluations and job appraisals. These changes would call for mayor review of enterprises and a new system of performance evaluations would be needed.
Other impediments for minorities specifically include racial harassment in the work place and segregation. Dr Bell suggests that “explicit guidelines on racial harassment in the work place must be develop and issued jointly by the equal employment opportunity commission and other appropriate governmental agencies”. These guidelines would provide minorities with a better work environment and would in theory narrow the discrimination and segregation rate in companies.
In the early 90's an attempt to crack the Glass ceiling was made by president Bush Sr. but its effectiveness is yet to be prove. Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 established the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission. It was a 21-member bipartisan commission appointed by President Bush and congressional leaders with a legislative mandate to: conduct a study identifying the barriers that prevent, and the policies and programs that promote minorities and women upward in corporate America; present an annual Presidential award to a business who has made significant efforts to remove obstacles to career growth and has provided advancement opportunities to women and minorities; and educate the public on who is effected by and what can be done to remove glass ceiling barriers. The Commission completed its legislative mandate in November 1995 under the leadership of Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor, and was terminated by law. (Redwood, 1996)
How long would it really take for “Glass Ceiling” to be eradicated from society?
Perhaps glass ceiling would be terminated when enterprises realize the advantages of having multicultural personnel on managerial positions (including Women) and when prejudice attitudes are no longer involve in the promotion or hiring process. In addition glass ceiling practices might be eradicated once companies start to make ethical behavior a part of their organization's culture.
Another ethical issue that directly transforms into legal labor issues is pay inequality for women and minorities. Equal pay has been the law since 1963. But today, nearly 45 years later, women are still paid less than men, even if they have similar skills and education. According to the U.S. Census Bureau women are paid 77 cents per every dollar a man is paid. Economist Evelyn Murphy, president and founder of The WAGE Project, estimates the wage gap costs the average full-time U.S. woman worker between $700,000 and $2 million over the course of her work life. The situation is even worse for African American women and Latinas who earn only 68 cents and 57 cents respectively for every dollar a man earns.
Recently the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in May 2007 that women who believe they are being denied equal pay must file suit within 180 days after the discrimination occurs.
In a strong dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the only woman on the court, said the majority opinion “overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination.” (American federation of labor, 2007)
As result of the Supreme Court ruling in May 2007 an Act called the “Paycheck Fairness Act” has been reborn. U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, (D-Conn.) introduced the bill, which would tighten loopholes in existing pay equity law and reinstate the Equal Pay Initiative, proposed in 2000 to dedicate $27 million to teach employers and employees how to recognize and respond to wage discrimination. The Paycheck Fairness Act would also allow those bringing gender discrimination lawsuits to receive compensatory and punitive damages and require employers to provide pay data broken out by race, sex and national origin. In addition to the “Paycheck Fairness Act” Sen. Barney Frank, (D-Mass.), also introduced the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007, making it illegal to fire or fail to hire or promote an employee based on gender identity or sexual orientation. In 33 states, it is legal to fire someone for being gay or lesbian, the Associated Press reported April 24. The other 17 states have laws banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Under the law, churches and the military would be exempt. (Bowen, 04/2007)
In conclusion if companies make ethical behavior part of their corporate culture and implement proactive measures rather than reactive measures many labor issues could be avoided, and the employees would be more responsive and eager to satisfy the company's demands.
American federation of labor. (2007). It's Time for Working Women to Earn Equal Pay. Retrieved February 10, 2008, from http://www.aflcio.org/issues/jobseconomy/women
Bowen, A. (04/28/07). Equal Pay Gets Hearing. Retrieved February 10, 2008, from http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/3148/context/archive
Markkula center for applied ethics. (2007). History of The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Retrieved February 10, 2008, from Santa Clara University Web site: http://www.scu.edu/ethics-center/history.cfm
Mattis, M. C. (1997). Issues in business ethics. New York City: Kluwer academic publishers. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=DHySvH_iIe4C&oi=fnd&pg=PA25&dq=%22BILIMORIA%22+%22BUILDING+THE+BUSINESS+CASE+FOR+WOMEN+CORPORATE+DIRECTORS%22+&ots=qaf0nmN7JM&sig=J3FRhDR_9qTw5CrfJFa488XkOLc#PPT1,M1
Redwood, R. (1996). Copies of The Glass Ceiling Commission's Fact-finding Report. Retrieved February 10, 2008, from http://www.ilr.cornell.edu
U.S department of Labor. (2003, September). "Highlights of Women's Earnings in 2002". Retrieved February 10, 2008, from