December 1, 2014
My intent in writing this paper is to describe how ethical principles can address organizational issues. The organization that I have chosen to explore is the Boeing Company specifically and the aerospace manufacturing industry as a whole, more generally. I will cover the role that external social pressures play in influencing the industry in both their compliance with government and professional ethics. I will also endeavor to highlight how the pressures brought to bear on the industry by the public and the government is relevant to their decisions both corporately and individually by their employees. Finally, I will share my thoughts on the relationship between legal and ethical issues with regard to the industry. To begin then, let’s explore what role external social pressures have in influencing the Boeing Company and by extension, the aerospace industry’s organizational ethics. The level of trust that must be present by the public in the company that builds the airplane they fly in is best described in the words of the Boeing employee code of conduct “…must not engage in conduct or activity that may raise questions as to the company's honesty, impartiality, or reputation or otherwise cause embarrassment to the company.” (Boeing, 2014) Boeing and the entire aerospace industry are hyper aware of their image and the perceptions of the flying public. When social pressure is brought to bear the entire industry takes notice and works to renew and enhance the public’s trust. For example, last year Boeing experienced a public relations nightmare when their new 787 Dreamliner aircraft experienced problems with Lithium Ion Batteries. An aircraft caught fire while waiting to be refueled and prepared for its next use. When news of the incident became known it was received with widespread fear and seeded mistrust of the airframe in the public, in the airline customer and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The entire 787 worldwide fleet was grounded until resolution could be made to ensure public and aircraft safety. The speed with which Boeing and the FAA dealt with the problem shows beyond any doubt that social pressure influences Boeing and the entire aerospace industry. Aerospace companies are constantly working to keep and enhance the trust of the public and to remain in compliance with the strictest government standards. The Core Values of the Boeing Company are Integrity, Quality, Safety, Diversity and Inclusion, Trust and Respect, Corporate Citizenship and finally Stakeholder Success. (Boeing, 2014) It is interesting to me that stakeholder success is the last item on the list. Boeing sees their public owners as being lowest on their corporate priority list with regard to ethics. In other words they see the need to be ethical as higher than being profitable. The need to be perceived in the public arena as ethical and trustworthy while also remaining in compliance with very lofty government standards demonstrates how Boeing and the aerospace industry strive to perform at a level which helps to mitigate the need for public or social pressure to influence their decisions. The issues the aerospace industry routinely deals with remain relevant and continually influence the decisions made and direct the way the companies involved expect their employee’s personal decisions to be made. Everything Boeing and its employees do have the potential to impact the public trust. In a broader sense the organizational ethics of the aerospace industry are determined by multiple factors. As already mentioned the flying public’s trust is a major factor but added to that are the airlines which operate the aircraft, the government agencies who retain oversight on the industry as a whole and the corporate citizens who build the aircraft. A great deal of effort goes into ensuring each of these levels of influence are balanced...
Cited: Boeing Company. (2014). Boeing.com. Retrieved Dec 1, 2014, from Boeing Ethic Home Page: http://www.boeing.com/boeing/companyoffices/aboutus/ethics/
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