Wal-Mart as a large private retailing player in both America and the world, has recently gained public concerns over its employment lawsuits. The employee lawsuits against Wal-Mart include illegal immigrants & child labor, low wage & poor benefits, sex discrimination, compulsory overtime work. This has greatly degraded Wal-Mart reputation. It is obvious that Wal-Mart has offended the the ethical principles stated in Global Business Standards Codex and deformed its Employment Practices by the above lawsuits. Therefore, in this essay, based on the current issues, it will evaluate Wal-Mart Employment Practices by involving three ethical principles of GBS Codex (Dignity, Fairness and Citizenship Principles). At the end of the essay, based on the previous evidence and analysis, proper conclusion will be made to furtherly address the business ethics in corporation employment practices.
The Dignity Principle
There are eight principles covered in the Global Business Standards Codex including fiduciary, property, reliability, transparency, dignity, fairness, citizenship, responsiveness (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2008). These principles are not only applicable for business but also for the emloyment practices within organization. All of these codes should be respected by organizations when designing and implementing to govern their employment practices. The Dignity Principle refers to the respect for the individual, health and saftey, privacy and confidentiality, use of force, association and expression, learning and development and employment security and so on (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2008). It requires organizations to respect the rights of employees in the working environment, and provide sound system to maintain the individual's development career within the organization.
Wal-Mart has been found guilty of forcing employees to work “off-the-clock” in the meal time, rest breaks and keeping employees locked in Wal-Mart stores after closing. Wal-Mart is accused of not paying employees for the time worked off-the-clock. Employees are forced to work off-the-clock but without additional payment, from this perspective, Wal-Mart is not doing the right business ethics. By ignoring the feelings of employees towards the overtime working, Wal-Mart has offended the dignity principle and abused its rights as an employer. In this way, Wal-Mart was sued by its employees with the evidence that the company did not respect individual's labour. Low wage and poor benefits are also complained by most employees especially those working at the lower level. As Wal-Mart has been long-term making the consistent commitment to customers with low prices and quality goods, on the one hand, Wal-Mart continually push pressure on its suppliers, and on the other hand, it has to reduce its expenditure on the labor costs by offering lower wages and fewer benefits than many comparable retailers (Hemphill, 2008). In 2006, “American Victory Union” representing 6 million American labors organized assembly in 35 cities in United States to protest Wal-Mart not providing medical insurance and low salary etc (Mathoda, 2006). From the GBS Codex's view, this betrays the ethic standard in terms of giving the corresponding salaries and benefits according to what they have done to the organization. Therefore, Wal-Mart has violated the dignity principle. In this way, employees are keeping leaving the company and contribute to the loss of human resources.
The Fairness Principle
The fairness principle in GBS Codex refers to fair dealing, fair treatment, fair competition, fair process (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2008). Any organization in the market should comply with these fairness requirements both in its business transaction with its suppliers, customers, and its treatment principle to its employees. As employees are the best fortune for an organization, it is very crucial for an organization to realize it as one the key elements for its business success. Unfair treatment to employees is a violation of ethical principle.
Wal-Mart was charged of sex descrimination by two women in 2001. Three years later, the sex descrimination case upgraded into collective case. The plaintiffs of over 1.6 million were all the women employed by Wal-Mart since 1988 (Crosby, Stockdale & Ropp, 2007). This case has aroused great concerns from American and international communities. Wal-Mart has been found the practice of gender bias with great discrimination against female employees and it has also been accused of demeaning employees with disabilities and inequality based on sexual orientation. The unfairness of treating women is reflected in many ways including salaries, promotions, training etc (Besen & Kimmel, 2006). In the case of a woman who was qualified for promotion and has worked for the position for many years, however, when she turned to her manager with regard to requiring for promotion, her manager directly refused the proposal just because she is a woman. While man employees would get promotion under the same situation. In this way, Wal-Mart is greatly disobeying its employment practices as it will give every employee the fair opportunity of training, developing and promoting. From the GBS Codex perspective, Wal-Mart also violates the fairness principle to a great extent.
The Citizenship Principle
The citizenship principle refers to behaviors of abiding by law & regulation, public goods, cooperation with authorities, political noninvolvement, and civic contribution (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2008). Any organization firstly is a citizen in the society and should do what a citizen should do to the society so as to increase its image as a qualified organization. Wal-Mart has not been cooperated with Union Organizations. It shows great resistance to Unions. Since its establishment, Wal-Mart remains the position as not allowing Unions involvement. Prior to American nationwide Union movement, Wal-Mart printed and distributed “Manager's Practical Guide for Resisting Union” to train and emphasize managers are the first line of defense (Tilly, 2007).
Many Unions have given up the hopes of persuading Wal-Mart to join in. Wal-Mart has its own opinion on this issue. It declares it is not anti-union organization, and it is making efforts to close partner. Since it implements an “open policy” for its employee staff and allow any employee to tell problems and concerns. Therefore, Wal-Mart does not need Unions. Like most of organizations, it is hard for Wal-Mart to change its attitudes towards Unions. It thinks Unions will object the corporation culture, and are just interested in receiving “expensive” Union member charges or organizing strikes but can not make any practical commitment to the growth of company.
However, this is bad for employees since they do not have a third party organization to supervise and protect their rights. Although it is not compulsory for an organization to join in Union, in United States Union plays a significant role in protecting employees rights in many aspects. By resisting Union's involvement, Wal-Mart actually deprived employees' legal rights (Ness, 2005). Therefore, Wal-Mart as a mass retailing player does not comply with the citizenship principle to some extent.
In conclusion, as the results of analyses of the above three ethcial principles of Global Business Standard Codex and Wal-Mart ethical issues in terms of its employment practices, Wal-Mart was continually confronted lawsuits or complaints from its employees with regard to overtime work, less wage, poor benefits, sex discrimination etc. It is also impressive to be resisting Union involvement. For many years, Wal-Mart has been facing the most serious accuses with a calculation of 13 lawsuits every day. For the long time, Wal-Mart has been focusing exclusively and continously to strive to reduce the prices and has ignored the deal with other issues such as wasting time with medias. However, as it grows fast and internationally, Wal-Mart may start to concetrate on making efforts to improve its reputation as a good employer and retailer.