Business Ethics

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Sierra Yuwono
WRIT 340 Prof. Steve Byars
June 8th, 2011
Assignment 1 – Ethics and Business Executive

My personal definition of business ethics would be a set of moral principles that a company or a business adheres to. This set of codes are self-determined by the company which then operates its business accordingly. It could also be defined as a set of rules that the company uses as a guideline for making decisions on issues that are moral-based.

To me, business ethics are highly normative, basically meaning that they are based on the standard of ethical expectations that the society expects businesses to comply to. This is highly perceptive and is different in various parts of the world. For example, something that the average Indonesian businessman would consider ethically normal such as employing someone under the age of 12 could be considered ethically wrong in countries such as the US.

Most countries’ governments have a set of laws and regulations to which they expect businesses to follow many of which prevent businesses from falling short of being ethical, however, a lot of these countries also have corrupted governments who wouldn’t mind making some money out of closing an eye and letting some businesses break the laws.

The ethical rights and wrongs of business decisions depend on the people who run the company. This, in turn, ties in to what image the company wants others to see when they think about the company. I think that as long as most of the society thinks of something as normatively okay, meaning that most of the people in the country thinks that it is humane and not frowned upon, then it would okay for the company to act accordingly.

My definition of being ethically correct in doing business would be to not directly harm anyone physically or mentally. Some examples from the case which I believe are ethically incorrect would be for Nike to keep hiring the manufacturing plant where the factory operator strip-searches female workers with the reason that he needs to determine whether or not they were menstruating. This act is degrading and thus, mentally harming the workers. Another example from the case that I would say is ethically incorrect would be to keep hiring the company in Vietnam where 77% of the workers have respiratory problems due to breathing chemical fumes at work. This would be my example of direct physical harm inflicted towards workers.

In my opinion, Levi’s exceed most companies’ efforts of being ethically correct. The case portrays them as being pretty straightforward about their ethical principles. They want to keep a competitive price and they’ll do what they feel is right which is to outsource even though it means having to lay a lot of people off. I feel that in this case, Levi’s is doing the right thing because competition in the industry fierce and a bigger profit margin would be necessary to be able to stay in the business. Aside from which, in times of bad economy, getting laid off is a pretty common thing. This could potentially happen to anyone working anywhere in the world. It was unfortunate that Levi’s employees in San Antonio had to lose their jobs but according to my definition of business ethics, Levi’s did nothing wrong.

Levi’s was only doing what they had to do in order to be more profitable, which is in fact the main point of any business. The plant in San Antonio was inefficient because it was not running at full capacity, yet in order to run it at full capacity meant that Levi’s had to employ 1,115 workers at a high priced labor. According to the case, Workers at San Antonio averaged $6 an hour whereas that would be the whole day’s pay for workers of the same skill level in the Caribbean and Central America. The cost that could be saved by outsourcing is obvious.

Aside from which, Levi’s compensated by donating an additional $340,000 to provide them with extra job counseling. According to the case this is more than legally...
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