Responsible Commerce

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Brief Description of week 2 submission:
At the beginning of the semester my understanding of responsible commerce was, for companies to build a socially acceptable business, that not only conformed to shareholders wants but to that of society and the environment. Social responsibility is about being transparent so that the business has the trust of the community. It is about looking after all people who have an interest in the business managers, to employees, the community, government, it is all stakeholders. It is important because by building a responsible business you build a sustainable business. One that will not go bankrupt through dodgy accounting practices like Enron, one which the directors of the company do not have a tarnished name. If the company is mindful of the environment then they are not only helping towards a sustainable future but they are avoiding upsetting large groups of stakeholders. Reflection

Responsible commerce focuses on how we use and should use traditional ethical views to evaluate how institutions organize human behaviour (Dienhart, 2000). It means that part of a company’s activity is the fulfilment of the duties and responsibilities that they have to the wider community, or that they contribute to the common good by benefiting both the company and society. To be socially responsible corporations must cooperate with other groups such as competitors, non-profits and government agencies to help solve social problems’ (Daugherty 2001, p. 389). Essentially it is about how business takes account of its economic, social and environmental impacts in the way it operates, maximising the benefits and minimising the downsides (Wood, 2007). Specifically responsible commerce needs to become part of the corporate culture, accepted by the significant operating institutions and transmitted from one generation of executives to the next (Shaw, 2009) to address both its own competitive interests and the interests of wider society. In the very least responsible commerce involves the idea of business being proactive in its relationship with a range of social factors and doing more than just trying to avoid breaking ethical rules or obeying the law (Wood, 2007). The term responsible commerce implies that business is motivated by more than just self-interest and is, in fact, an activity that aims to promote the interest of society at large. This can be differentiated from, for example, corporate sponsorship where ‘the company’s managers will expect a tangible return for their money’ (Varey, 1997). In practice, the attitude of most companies to responsible commerce will occupy a position somewhere between their self-interest and responsible commerce. Ethical doctrines play a role in justifying both perspectives. For example, Friedman, who rejects the concept of responsible commerce and claimed that business has no social responsibility other than to maximise profits(Shaw, 2009), attempts to justify his free market approach to some extent from a utilitarian standpoint.

However what I have constantly learned to look at throughout this course is all of the stakeholders involved. The task of the corporate manager is to balance the interests of all the different groups who have a ‘stake’ in the company (Shaw, 2009). These groups might include shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, the local community and even broader society. The interest of the shareholders in increasing their profits is only one interest among many that the management must consider. This model requires the corporation to take account of its social responsibilities and to consider all of its stakeholders when developing business strategies. In a way this employ’s Kant’s categorical imperative to argue that all human beings have a right not to be treated as merely a means to some end but as ends in themselves (Shaw, 2009). They therefore must participate in determining the future direction of the firm in which they have a stake. Utilitarianism...
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