In this task, I will discuss about the responsibilities of an organisation and how they achieve their desired responsibility.
First of all, one must know what the definition of an organisation's responsibility is. An organisation's responsibility is the ethical behaviour of an organisation when conducting or running its business. Organisation's responsibility can also be referred as corporate social responsibility, sustainable responsible business, corporate social performance, corporate citizenship or responsible business.
So why is it important to act in an ethical manner? The answer is simple. In today's world, acting in an unethical manner is highly frowned upon by the society. People are more educated right now and are more aware. If an organisation does not comply in ethical behaviour, they might not only lose customers but they might even not even get employees who are willing to work for the organisation.
Being Ethically Responsible
Being ethical is easier said than done. There is no absolute definition of what is ethical and what is not. In a broader sense, ethical can be defined as a fair and morally correct behaviour. However, what maybe morally right to one individual may not be in the eye of another. At the same time, the main purpose of an organisation is to earn profit; hence it is questionable whether an organisation can solely run on moral grounds.
The Western philosophers classified ethics into three parts:
- Virtuous acts such as acts of justice, charity work and generous efforts done for the betterment of the society
- A rational individual's moral duty towards another rational individual
- The principle of guidance that shows the path that benefits or produce the best form of happiness to the wider society
Ethic is something very subjective. Due to this, the value of ethic differs in depending on region, ethnic and era. However, more than implicated rules, opinions of a larger group of individuals have more impact on the society. After all, without an individual's own sense of morality, he would not feel the obligation to follow the rules and regulations. Hence, it is absolutely very important not to undermine the importance of the ethical value in life.
Let us now look at ethical in terms of business. In order to run an ethical business, it is crucial to invest the money in an ethical manner. This is because, in order to successfully make a profit out of a large investment, it is subjected to the market forces which are greatly influenced by the public opinion. Ethical investment started gaining popularity since the 1970s but the very first ethical businesses can be traced back into the 1800s.
In traditional method of business, their main target is to solely earning profits regardless of the consequences. However, an ethically running business concentrates on HOW the organisation earns the profit.
The ethical way of handling business seeks to maximise profits while avoiding as much as negative effects as possible. The types of issues concerned when it comes socially responsible activities are:
- Globalisation effect
- Animal rights
- Business ethics
- Computer ethics
- Corruption and conflict issues
- Education ethics
- Environmental ethics
- Ethical management and leadership
- Hospitality ethics
- Human rights
- Legal ethics
- Local community
- Marketing ethics
- Research ethics
- Sexual ethics
- Social works ethics
- Social enterprise
- Well being at work
The most current issues brought up in today's world are:
- Animal experimentation
- Nuclear power
- Oppressive or corrupt government body
This list can go on as the world changes. The paradox in this whole situation is that what that may be an unethical way of handling today may not be in the future. This kind of mind changing occurs for many reasons. Some may be due to the technological change, where the product was made safer for usage or sometimes due to a change in people's opinion.
Ethics and Law
Many people have this mistaken believe that what is ethical is lawful but this not true. In reality this is far from the truth. What may be ethical may not be lawful or vice versa.
Many a times, there were cases when people of old times and even at the modern time where they feel that the laws are oppressing them. Cases such as encouraging slavery, outrageously high taxes, unfair legal systems and such can go against the moral codes of certain individuals. If they have a strong and large group to go against certain laws they are not happy about, they can put pressure to these laws and make a change. These kinds of cases are known as when ethical or moral code is placed above laws, where the power of ethic has more power than law. Fighting for the greater good though it is going against the law is not seen as unethical. Hence it can be concluded that not all ethical or moral codes are lawful or not all unethical acts are considered unlawful.
Ethics and Religion
In many people's point of view, ethical judgement is primarily based on religious beliefs. However as convenient as it can be, especially religion does teach you a sense of morality and correct behaviour, it still not a very solid base to build the base to build an organisation's ethical behaviour. There are numerous reasons for this issue.
The primary problem is the diversification of religion and people's belief. If religion is used when it comes to decision making in an organisation, there will definitely be a conflict due to difference in people's opinion. There were many cases also, sadly, when people use the name of religion as a safety net if anything goes wrong. A business needs making decision based on logic, not on faith and belief. Hence, it is not a very appropriate approach to use religious ways to conduct a business.
Ethics and Public Opinion
Just like the case of law and religion, ethical standards are not wholly decided on the view of majority. There are cases when the majority's view can be unreliable:
- When the group of people are poorly informed of the situation
- When people start basing decisions on instinct instead of logic
- Majority of the decisions made in an organisation are decided after consulting the experts in the various fields who are obviously more informed then the public view who are not as aware as the happenings around that area. This is not to say that public opinion will be overlooked. Fair chances will be given to the public to have their say and their point of view. However, the final decision will be the one which should be the most appropriate for that certain issue.
The phrase ‘majority rules' plays a very significant role when it comes to deciding what is ethical for a business however, this is not the only factor that should be considered when making ethical decisions. The decisions will vary depending on the situation since ethical itself is very inconsistent.
Unethical act is something that is highly frowned upon no matter which part of the world it is. Examples of unethical acts are:
- Acts of dishonesty such as hiding information or distorting facts
- Misleading in the form of communication or advertisement
- Manipulating people's feelings
- Deceiving people
- Exploiting people's weaknesses
- Charging excessively to make profit
- Being greedy
- Anything that is harmful
- Breaching contracts
- Running away from penalties after doing a wrong act
- Inactive-based agreements
- Not informing people after making changes
- Not being transparent and refusing reasonable investigating
- Harming the environment
- Making unnecessary waste or consumption
- Invading the privacy
- Being irresponsible in terms of authority
- Encouraging nepotism
- Playing favouritism
- Acts of discrimination
- Conflicts in terms of interests
- Negligence in duty
- Making animals suffer
- Breaching in terms of confidentiality
- Failure to report wrong acts within the area of duty
- Unfair acts
- Unkind acts
- Uncompassionate and inhuman acts
Benefits of Being Ethical
The key for being ethical is to be objective, not your own personal belief, religion or power. Those people who make decisions for their own personal reasons such as wealth, power or reputation, totally miss the whole point of being ethical. Ethical behaviour provides a foundation for the modern organisation of today's world. More people are realising the importance of social responsibility and ethical behaviour from an organisation. There are various benefits for an organisation if they operate their organisation in a responsible manner. They are:
- Having a competitive advantage since people nowadays are more willing to buy products from organisations that practices ethical behaviour
- Better chance of attracting and retaining employees since the people naturally like to work in an environment where it has a pleasant atmosphere and a good reputation
- Having more investors to invest on the organisation since investors prefers to invest money on an organisation that runs on integrity
- Boost in morale and culture within the employees since working in a highly socially responsible organisations are less stressful and more satisfying environment to work in
- Better reputation in the long run. It takes a long time to build up a good image and reputation of an organisation but it only takes one scandal to ruin it all. Organisations based on ethical grounds are less likely to be subjected to scandals
- Being ethical is part of the law and regulations. Sooner or later, this is a choice an organisation has to make so it might as well implement it before an organisation is forced into it or fined into it
How to be Ethically Responsible
Here are some tips a person can consider before making any ethical decision
- Look at every decision made in an objective manner. Sometimes exciting or demanding things can make a person decide things on impulse hence it is important to calm down and think rationally before making the final decision
- Be as fair as possible. It's not possible to be fair to everyone but a person can always strive to come with fair solutions rather than imposing decisions on others unless they want it that way
- Learn from the past and try to improve the situation and implement it to the current situation. Some of the issues the organisation is facing may be already faced by another organisation in the past
- Have a boarder mind in order to get facts from every possible perspective. There are three main choices when facing a challenging issue; personal opinion, alternative solution or leaving the matter as it is. The third option can become a disaster and one of the most unwise choice to make in terms of crisis
- Planning out all possible scenarios
- Refer to the law to get a rough guideline
- Get opinions from people, especially those who are very critical and also those who are not too close to you to get an unbiased advice
- Take into consideration of anything that will be affected by the decision. This includes not only humans but the entire environment and the animals, basically the effect on the whole planet itself not only terms of present, but also a future perspective of it too
- Resistance to corruption such as greed for power and authority has to be practiced vigorously since these temptations will lead into delusion that ends up making unethical decisions
- Avoid using religious faith as point of decision-making. Though it is not wrong, there are too many risks involve in decision based on this
- Find solutions that are harmonious and objective. Do not try to impose or influence decisions upon other. Try to be as fair-minded as possible in order not create any misgiving feelings in the organisation
Lastly, One must also consider the fact that different people has different opinions depending on what is ethical or what is not. An organisation must learn how to read the situation and implement decisions based on what is ethical in an objective manner. I will take the globally successful company Mark & Spencer as an example in how they responded to today's world of running businesses in a socially responsible environment.