Corporate Ethics: A Need for Change
SOC 120: Introduction to Ethics and Social Responsibility
Instructor – Andrea Barclay
October 20, 2008
Introduction & Thesis Statement
Exxon Valdez, Enron, Arthur Anderson, WorldCom, Tyco, Kmart, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Wall Street are just a few examples of the ever-growing number of corporate scandals in recent years. While the top executives of these and similar corporations are making millions, the average American citizen is struggling to keep afloat during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Corporate American has sold out the citizens of the United States for the “bottom line”.
This paper will examine the practical, social and ethical role of corporations, discuss the written Code of Business Ethics and explore some unethical corporate practices of today with a focus on the mortgage lenders/credit companies. It will also examine the need for better ethical standards, corporate accountability and governance in today’s business world.
Business Ethics and the written Code of Business Ethics
The Blackwell encyclopedia dictionary of business ethics defines business ethics as “the study of business action – individual and corporate – with special attention to its moral adequacy”. Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary defines business ethics as “the study and examination of moral and social responsibility in relation to business practices and decision-making in business”.
Companies use business ethics to define acceptable and unacceptable actions of their managers and employees. While many corporations today have a written code of ethics, many are vague, using broad language that is open to interpretation. Many only address behavior in the workplace and company policies. They do not address any issues that result from doing business, social responsibility or accountability and consequences for violators. Mixed messages, lack of leadership, seeing or hearing...