They are the Utilitarian Approach, The Rights Approach, and The Common-Good Approach. Corporate Social Responsibly seems to have an unlicensed marriage to ethics. The idea behind ethics is to reach and surpass the call of duty, and Corporate Social Responsibility is about doing more than just making a profit. With the rise of multi-national corporations and the importance of ethics an International Code of Ethics was created. Ethics has such a big impact on whether a business is a success or a failure. So personal, professional, and global principles were created by experts to guide managers in their trip to the top of the corporate ladder.
Ethics is the interactive study of moral obligation and principles involving right versus wrong. In a new survey of 1,324 US employees, 48% admitted to due at least one of the twenty-five unethical questions asked. Pressure from superiors is the biggest excuse for unethical decisions. Also, employees desire clear ethical standards in ambiguous or unclear situations.
Philosophers have developed many different approaches to help deal with moral issues. Here are three I felt were extremely important. The Utilitarian ApproachUtilitarianism was brought about in the 19th century by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. For this approach to work you must first identify the various courses of action available to us. Second, ask who will be affected by each action and what benefits or harms will be derived from each. And third, choose the action that will produce the greatest benefits and the least harm.
The ethical action is the one that provides the greatest good for the greatest number. The Rights ApproachThe second important approach to ethics was concocted by 18th-century thinker Immanuel Kant, who focused on the individual’s right to choose for herself or himself. People are not objects to be manipulated; it is a violation of human dignity to use people in ways they do not freely choose. Says Kant, What makes human beings different from mere things is that people have dignity based on their ability to choose freely what they will do with their lives, and they have a fundamental moral right to have these choices respected. The Common-Good ApproachThis approach to ethics assumes a society comprising individuals whose own good is inextricably linked to the good of the community.
Community members are bound by the pursuit of common values and goals. The common good is a notion that originated more than 2,000 years ago in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. More recently, ethicist John Rawls defined the common good as “certain general conditions that are. . .
equally to everyone’s advantage. In this approach focuses on making sure that the social policies, social systems, institutions, and environments on which we depend are beneficial to all. Corporate Social Responsibility is defined as the idea that business has social obligations above and beyond making a profit. This is a somewhat controversial issue in the business world.
Some people feel that business is either part of the solution or part of the problem, and that if business strives, so will the economy, and thus society. Other people say that business already has enough power over American life. These people feel that business controls what, how and where we eat, shop, and live. They also say that if managers are busy with social problems less time will be spent on the businesss economic goals. In 1994, the Caux Round Table in Switzerland developed an International Code of Ethics. The code is broken up into seven principles.
The first principle deals with the idea that businesses must play a role in improving the lives of all their customers, employees, and shareholders by sharing the wealth they have helped create. Principle two states that businesses who have established themselves in foreign countries should contribute to human rights, education, welfare, and vitalization .