Ethics Reflection Paper Ethics and social responsibility are key factors when planning one’s personal life or planning for the success of a business. When companies develop strategic plans, they must consider what role ethics will play and how social responsibility will affect the plan keeping stakeholders need at the forefront. If businesses and individuals are making a conscious effort to display ethical behavior, ethical perspectives and beliefs should evolve over time much like what has happened in the master’s of business administration (MBA) program.
Role of Ethics and Social Responsibility in Strategic Planning Ethics are guidelines used to help management and employees conduct themselves according to the values and standards set forth by the company. To ensure employees understand the rules and make good ethical decisions, a company’s plan should embody the beliefs and values that the business and their employees view most important. These beliefs and values can be outlined in a company’s mission, vision, and philosophy statements which provide direction, purpose, and a clear understanding of an organization’s behavioral expectations and decisions made by the stakeholders.
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When adhered to, the mission and vision statements can be the baseline for goal-setting and strategic planning while keeping ethics at the core of all decisions. Pearson and Robinson (2004) stated “central to the belief that companies should be operated in a socially responsive way for the benefit of all stakeholders is the belief that managers will behave in an ethical manner” (p. 60). Even with a plan in place and ethical guidelines established, unethical behavior is always a possibility which could occur at a management or subordinate level.
Too many top-level management and executives have acted inappropriately and have violated company policies. This was witnessed through events such as the Enron, WorldCom, and Bernie Madoff scandals where unethical behavior was called into question. Employees, specifically those in a management position, have an obligation to do what is right for the sake of their customers, the industry, and to help maintain the company’s image and reputation.
When this fails to happen, the owners and board of directors must take the appropriate action to get rid of those individuals, not only to set an example but to make the point that unethical behavior will not be tolerated under any circumstances. To minimize the possibility that similar atrocities will occur, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was instituted to mandate Chief Executive Officers (CEO) and Chief Financial Officers (CFO) to take responsibility for reports generated and to acknowledge that the information included in the reports are true and accurate to the best of their knowledge.
If the information is not true or is fraudulent, both have a responsibility to report the findings to auditors. Like ethical behavior, “social responsibility is a critical consideration for a company’s strategic decision makers…” (Pearson & Robinson, 2004, p. 23). Owners need to ensure that they hire managers who are going to carry out their wishes and be the voice in their absence instead of managers who will protect their self-interests. Decisions made by management have to be aligned with the beliefs of the owner and the company’s stakeholders to guarantee profitability and survivability.
To encourage managers to make appropriate and ethical decisions, owners and executives should provide incentives through bonuses, appraisals, and recognition programs. Managers who do receive performance incentives will be held accountable by stakeholders. Stakeholders include stockholders who want a good return on investment, employees seeking job satisfaction, satisfied customers and suppliers, governments seeking law abiding companies, competitors seeking strong competition, responsible citizens and the public seeking a good quality of life (Pearson & Robinson, 2004).
Outside of being accountable to owners and the business, managers also have to select the ethical approach that will ensure the consumer is getting the best service at a reasonable cost, jobs are being offered to those who need them, consumers do not have to fear product risk, and that they are taking care of their financial responsibilities to the government. Regardless of the approach selected, consistency is important as not to send a signal of injustice and consistency allows companies and individuals to reach their end-state goals without having to waste time and money.
Ethical Perspectives At the start of the MBA program, ethics and ethical behavior were and still are a very important part of conducting business and in how others are treated and perceived. This program reemphasized the importance of the role of ethics and how people in society should work hard to create a personal and corporate culture that fosters accountability and ensures everyone conducts business in an ethical manner.
Being a part of a team during each class was a very good test of ethics, beliefs, and the ability to display patience and understanding towards other people. Some team members had little respect and showed disregard for others or their feelings. Although assignment completion was the most important aspect, some members were written off because of a lack of effective writing abilities, communication, or personal skills. Although many of those decisions were based on personal preference, one still has to question if the decisions were right or wrong.
A major source of failure in most team assignments as well as collaborative projects within an organization is usually caused by a lack of admiration for individual judgment. Respect for individual judgment was evident in the Assessment of Ethical Choices in the Workplace (2009). When teammates acknowledge the judgment of others, they encourage open communication, build trust, and promote cohesiveness that could potentially prevent unethical behavior from occurring.
Having an ethical profile closely aligned with character is an asset when trying to judge others (University of Phoenix, 2009). Conclusion For businesses and individuals to remain successful there must be intent to remain ethical and socially responsible. The ethical and social decisions made have to support the better good of the organization or society and every effort should be made to call attention to and reject improper behavior. Although one might perceive his or her ethical concepts to be intact, improvement is always encouraged.
References Pearson, J. A. , & Robinson, R. B. (2004). Strategic management: Formulation, implementation, and control (9th ed. ). New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin. University of Phoenix (2009). Williams Institute: Ethical choices in the workplace. Retrieved August 20, 2009, from University of Phoenix, Week One, STR 581 – Strategic Planning and Implementation. University of Phoenix (2009). Williams Institute: Ethics awareness inventory. Retrieved August 20, 2009, from University of Phoenix, Week One, STR 581 – Strategic Planning and Implementation.