|Definition: Ethics are the moral principles that should underpin decision making. A decision made on ethics might reject the most |
|profitable solution in favour of one of greater benefit to society as well as the firm. |
It is important at this stage to distinguish between an ethical decision and a lawful decision. It may be legal for a public house to sell alcohol products to people over the drink drive limit. But is it ethical to do so if you know that they intend to drive?
|Activity: Give two examples of legal actions but which you feel at the same time are unethical. |
Typical ethical dilemmas for consumers include:
• Should you continue purchasing KitKat’s knowing Nestle sold powdered milk to third world mothers who only had dirty water with which to make the milk with?
• Should all consumers only purchase fair trade products?
• Should we purchase products where child labour is involved?
Ethics or public relations
Sometimes firms will promote an ethical image because they perceive that the positive publicity that this will generate will lead to an increase in sales and a corresponding increase in profits.
Sometimes firms will promote an ethical image in order to avoid the negative publicity which comes from the public perception of an unethical image.
In both the above examples however the firm cannot actually be described as behaving ethically they are merely trying to maximise profits by appearing to behave ethically. A company can only truly be described as ethical if there actions are solely determined by what is morally right it is not a matter of scientific calculation of costs and benefits.
There is a common perception that the Body Shop is an ethical organisation which exists to promote the environment and animal rights. A sceptic however might argue however that the founder Anita...