AWC Inc. is an aluminum fabricating company, situated in South-western Ontario, run by the MacDonald family. Not only is it known for its product design and quality, but also for its involvement in supporting employees’ families. AWC was involved in the community and committed to creating a family-oriented environment, through sponsoring local sports teams and providing summer work for children of employees. In July 1991, however, Alex MacDonald was faced with a predicament: AWC’s emissions control systems did not adhere to the regulations set by the Ministry of the Environment. In order to comply with regulations, he needed to invest $240,000 to $400,000 in ventilation equipment. However, the investment, coupled with the economic recession, would drastically cripple the company’s finances. This paper will analyze the ethical issues and alternatives for this case.
What Changed to Cause Ethical Issues?
Jim MacDonald founded AWC Inc. in 1950. He nurtured it to become a successful organization with a great company culture and eventually passed it down to his son, Alex. It seemed as though AWC was well on its way. Unfortunately, a recession came about, financially crippling AWC and the aluminum fabrication industry. To uphold the firm’s competitive advantage, AWC created a new door design - one that was competitive in price, assembly, and performance. It significantly increased sales and was in high demand. It was functional even in high-use areas, provided that the door spent more time on the welding line for a stronger welded corner. This change proposed a problem. The welding line produces poisonous fumes. When inhaled, they can have dire consequences on employee health as they have been known to lead to respiratory damage and cancer.
At the same time, there was a government focus shift towards environmental preservation. In order to coerce companies into taking social responsibility, the government implemented legislation that imposed harsher
References: Ager, D., Andron A., & MacLeod W. (1994). Enron Corp. In D. Sharp (Ed.), Cases in Business Ethics (pp. 203-210). California: Thousand Oaks.