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Ethics and Corporate Responsibility in the Workplace and the World, Research Paper Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1734

Research Paper

With any set of rules or regulations there are the proponents and opponents representing the various and often conflicting stances on certain subject matter (Barsky, 2009).  In this case there is a direct disregard for employee’s rights, environmental concerns and overall ethical business behavior in many aspects including the responsibility to employees, conflicts of interests in conducting business at home and abroad, work/life balance, treatment of employees, reporting incidents in production and manufacturing that are harmful to the general public, and regulations regarding the actions and conduct that is expected from the employees as well as management.  The policies and guidelines detailed in the employer’s policies on ethics and behavior outline the approved and expected behavior of all employees of the company at all times.  This outline of behavior and actions provide a foundation to establish good conduct and level set expectations for employees.  The ethical action policy must be able to outline and hold the parties responsible for the code of conduct that is necessary to maintain that good order and discipline.  This also provides the ability to maintain flexibility for leadership to make the appropriate modifications and adjustments to the policy to maintain agility and the ability to adapt and respond to specific situations.  Ethics encompasses decisions between polar opposites and can be summated down to a decision of right or wrong.  Ethics is a universal concept among a group of people in which a broad notion is accepted and is not up for interpretation or variance from central focus.  Ethical behavior and upholding these standards starts with the leadership of the organization (Shockley-Zalabak, 1999).  Without the precedence being set by the guiding forces of the organization, the ethical behavior and upholding such actions become futile and impossible to systemically manage.  The overall case revolving around PharmaCARE encapsulates a multitude of varying degrees of ethical dilemmas ranging from overtly defiant behavior to rules and regulations to ethical but immoral actions in the treatment of people and their rights as human beings.

Scenario Background

The ethical dilemma begins with the establishment of the stakeholders in the case.  The stakeholders are the key influencers and impacted parties in this case.  In this case, the stakeholders are those that have interest in or concern for the organization, its actions, and the actions of its members as well as those impacted by the effects of the organizations actions.  One of the main stakeholders in this scenario is the corporation of PharmaCARE.  The entity of PharmaCARE is directly impacted by the actions of its senior staff, employees, and subsidiaries.  PharmaCARE employs a large manufacturing facility in Colberia and has recently increased its scope of work by extending its focus from individual health to global health efforts.  The company is a stakeholder based upon its reputation as an ethical company including the actions the company has recently taken to lobby against environmental and regulatory movements to enhance the environment through regulation of manufacturing efforts in which PharmaCARE is involved.  There are multiple sections to this ethical scenario in which PharmaCARE is apart.  The first is the treatment of the indigenous workforce.  The second is the work conditions of the laboratory employees coupled with the falsely inflated demand for their product.  The last piece of the ethical dilemma includes the spin-off of the wholly owned subsidiary, CompCARE, to limit direct scrutiny from the Food and Drug Administration in conjunction with the ramifications of the drug, AD23, which were related to increased chance of heart attack.  The first focal area for stakeholders includes those in Colberia.  Recently with the increase in outsourced and locally sourced workforce in Colberia, there is an increase in the scope of stakeholders.  The indigenous workforce has a stake in the ethical behavior of PharmaCARE.  These workers rely on the actions of their employer to uphold the integrity of his or her ethical nature and treat the workforce with the same standards afforded across all members of the company.  The executives of the company at the headquarter location as well as those executives residing in the host nation of Colberia are stakeholders.  This is because they provide the direction of the company, partake in the benefits of the manufacturing facility and hold each employee accountable to the ethical threshold of right and wrong behavior.  The additional stakeholders impacted include those workers in the laboratory working in sub-par conditions and these conditions posed health threats and an unsafe working environment.  They are not only stakeholders based upon their working conditions but also because when grievances were raised not only were they disregarded multiple employees received a backlash and denial of opportunities.  The three named employees were Donna, Tom, and Ayesha.  Allen, the manager of the aforementioned employees, was directed by leadership to fire the three employees.

Ethical Breakdown

The ethical treatment of the Colberians can be seen in multiple views.  When a company goes into a different country the level and standard of living are different from one place to another.  The workers were working, voluntarily, for $1 USD daily harvesting plants for the manufacturing plant.  To arrive at the fields the workers had to travel five miles, one way, to arrive at their work location.  The executives of PharmaCARE worked and lived in the lap of luxury in a compound designated for upper echelon employees. The standard of living for those in Colberia included primitive huts and no electricity or running water.  While this disparity between the executives and those working in the jungle was large, the company provided an equitable compensation based upon the local economy and work performed.

When the ingredients for the medication arrived at the laboratories, it was up to the technicians and scientists to create a product for the public.  This product was not only did what it intended purpose was supposed to not cause a negative impact or extraneous harm to the general public.  These technicians and scientists were governed by rules and regulations established by the governing bodies to include but not limited to the Food and Drug Administration.  The laboratories began to see in increased amount of mold and allergens in the work areas that the technicians conducted research in.  Three of the employees began to either notice effects of the mold in the air vents or raised the situation to leadership to take action.  Once these concerns were noted, Allen was told to fire the three employees or he would incur retribution impacting his career.  Allen did not have a basis to fire the employees and would need to address the situation in a different manner.

The first action should be to inform leadership of their options in such a way that would mitigate risk to them as well as to the company.  Firing the employees without just cause would result in a dispute and potentially a lawsuit based on discriminatory actions.  Allen needs to draft a plan to respond to the root cause of the mold issue and immediate get that addressed.  The second focus point should be to follow the policies and procedures in the corporate handbook and document any negative or non-adherence to the standards by his employees.  If an employee needs to be fired in the future the documented information will provide the foundation for such a termination.  This process would ensure the employees remain employed, reduce risk to the company base on actions of the terminated employees and bring little or no focus on their business in a negative light.

PharmaCARE’s ethical behavior is rudimentary and obtuse in regard to how they outwardly support environmental, societal and employee efforts but in the same instance they support entities that thwart laws, regulations or standards that may support positive causes but may negatively impact PharmaCARE’s business models.  The public stance of PharmaCARE is to support environmental stewardship, and this stance carries an obligation to the leaders of the company to follow through with those expectations.  They support lobbyists that focus on limiting environmental laws and regulations through funding opportunities but also state that they are for the greater good of the environment.  These are contrasting stances that PharmaCARE is exercising on both sides of the issue.

PharmaCARE supports the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERLA) but still funds the contradictory lobbyists.  The CERLA is the Superfund enacted by Congress in 1980 in order to create a tax on industries that pose risks to the environment through their manufacture of hazardous substances (EPA, 2013).  CERLA encompassed the requirements on hazardous waste sites, increased accountability for those releasing hazardous waste and provisions for waste cleanup if a responsible entity was not attributed to the waste.  The provision directly impacting PharmaCARE is the release of chemicals that may harm the public health.  The direct health implications of releasing a drug to the public that cause cardiac arrest and heart attacks is a derived violation of CERLA.  While this is a violation, CERLA is highly focused on waste site decontamination and cleanup efforts.  Alternatively, the site, in which the ingredients for PharmaCARE’s medication are harvested, could fall potentially underneath CERLA’s area of responsibility.

Conclusion

The ethical behavior of PharmaCARE expands many areas of ethical scenarios ranging from the treatment of resources, people and accountability.  Their actions with environmental support and funding lobbyists to mitigate the policies and laws which support environmental actions are at best contradictory.  The maltreatment of outsourced labor and extraneous use of funds for individual luxury items are also in direct contrast.  Firing people for being sick, not promoting the best candidate base upon their concern for unethical behavior and forcing management to take actions that are not in the best interest of the company nor the chain of command executing the tasks all step over the boundaries of ethical corporate behavior.  The case outlines the employees’ rights for health and safety in the workplace and how it is imperative that leadership supports these rights.  The stance of environmental protection of PharmaCARE was a rouse and was neither supported by action nor funding which is in itself a moral and ethical violation of trust and corporate citizenship.  Overall, PharmaCARE crossed many ethical lines between what is positive and accepted ethical behavior and that of malicious and degrading unethical actions.

References

Barsky, Allan Edward. (2009) Ethics And Values In Social Work, An Integrated Approach For A Comprehensive Curriculum. Oxford University Press, USA.

EPA. (2013). CERLA Overview. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/policy/cercla.htm

Shockley-Zalabak, P. (1999) Fundamentals of organisational communication: knowledge, sensitivity, skills, values. Longman: New York.

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