What are the strengths, limitations and challenges of ethical and socially responsible business practice? Discuss with reference to case studies of your choice (1200-1500 words).
This essay will analyse the strengths, limitations and challenges of ethical and socially responsible business practice. The purpose of this essay is to identify the advantages and limitations of following business ethics and act socially responsible in business operations. In order to help me analyse those further I will use the case study from food industry - McDonald’s corporation. Firstly, I would like to explain what Corporate Social Responsibility is. “It is a company’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates. Companies express this citizenship through their waste and pollution reduction processes, by contributing educational and social programs, and by earning adequate returns on the employed resources” (Business Dictionary). To put it simply, companies’ responsibilities are not only to meet legal requirements, follow rules and policies and make financial profit but also taking care of their stakeholders and the environment. Very popular is Carroll’s model of Corporate Social Responsibility which is divided into four parts: economic, legal, ethical and philanthropic responsibilities; those responsibilities are very often presented in a form of a pyramid (Carroll 1991). CSR is not a legal requirement and it is not necessary for companies to follow its ideas, however most of the businesses around the world, especially recently even though it isn’t a new conception, have been introducing ethically and socially responsible practices into their systems as they might have more strengths and advantages than limitations and challenges. McDonald’s is an international fast-food corporation which started its activity in 1954 by McDonald’s brothers in the USA. In 1974, the first McDonald’s restaurant was opened in Woolwich, United Kingdom. What is more, there are 1,200 McDonald’s restaurants in operation in the UK and Northern Ireland (McDonald’s website). McDonald’s’ Corporate Social Responsibility says that “For example, we're always looking for ways to reduce, reuse and recycle in our restaurants and across our whole business”. McDonald’s cares about its customers and the environment which is clearly visible in the company statement and everyday life. The corporation also operates in an ethical manner and it believes that “sound ethics is good business. At McDonald’s, we hold ourselves and conduct our business to high standards of fairness, honesty and integrity. We are individually accountable and collectively responsible” (McDonald’s website). To compare McDonald’s CSR policy, I would like to bring up Burger King’s CSR policy which says that “Directors, as well as officers and employees, are expected to act ethically at all times and to adhere to the Company's Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. We share the concerns of our neighbours and employees about the future of our planet and the need to protect and conserve precious resources. Each of us is responsible for ensuring that our Company conducts its business with honesty, integrity and the highest ethical standards.” (Burger King Website). It shows the popularity of ethical and socially responsible environment at work.
One of the biggest strengths of applying CSR in business is the profitability. Many companies around the world introduce CSR ideas into their systems, policies and statements in order to gain a great reputation and a loyalty in the community. Every business has to settle into the society and be accepted by all in order to be successful. This is what McDonald’s does. It listens to its customers’ opinions and feedback (online and by comment cards available in every restaurant) and then implements improvements, better products and does more to help the environment. The best example to prove this is...
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