Business ethics, which is also known as corporate ethics, refers to a set of values, principles and norms that helps in governing the behavior and actions of an individual in a business organization. Business ethics applies to all in all aspects of business conduct and is relevant to the conduct of the entire organization and of each individual in an organization. Individuals, organizational statements or legal systems are the sources from which these ethics usually originate (Crane & Matten, 2016). On the other hand, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an integral part of any business organization, without which, it becomes difficult for any business organization to survive. Every business organization has its own CSR policies that functions as a Self-Regulatory Mechanism, by which a business ensures and monitors its compliance with the spirit of law, national and international norms and ethical standards. Basically, CSR policies of a business organization aim for something beyond making profits for the organization. It is an organization’s initiative to assess and take responsibility for the effects of the company on the environment and the society near which it carries on its activities (Abels & Martelli, 2012). Therefore, in order to run a business effectively, business ethics like integrity, loyalty, leadership, moral values, respect and concern must be present in an organization along with proper CSR policies, aiming to protect and improve the society and the environment.
The following provide answers for the given assignment, in accordance with the documentary provided, which is named as “Blood, Sweat and T-shirts”.
The documentary, “Blood, sweat and t-shirts”, is about six British fashion consumers who visited India for exploring the working conditions and business policies in two of the garment making factories of the clothing industry. The documentary shows that the six British fashion consumers visit one of the leading clothing factories in India, where they go through a training procedure for working in the factory as labors. Later on they also visited another clothing small clothing factory for the same purpose. During their training sessions they went through difficult situations as the working environment, working culture and other working conditions in the factory were very different from the foreign (western) culture. The documentary also showed the living conditions of the workers in India, who work in that factory. In this context, it can be pointed out from the documentary that the Indian clothing industry suffers from certain ethical issues, based on the experience of the British fashion consumers (Weiss, 2014). They are:-
- Health and safety issues- The Indian factories suffer from health and safety issues. The given documentary shows that the food provided in the factory are not hygienic, the environment inside the factory is dirty and smelly and the workers are made to work under such low conditions (DesJardins & McCall, 2014).
- Issues regarding fair working conditions- The workers are made to work under such low conditions with a very basic pay, which makes it difficult for them and their families to afford a standard way of living (Michaelson, Pratt, Grant, & Dunn, 2014).
- Technology- The documentary shows that the technology that the Indian factories use are not advanced, which puts more pressure on the labors and slows down the productivity rate (Shrader-Frechette, 2012). Moreover, the power supply in the factories are not proper due to backdated technology, which further harms the work productivity and puts pressure on the workers.
- Lack of respect and leadership- The video showed that the behavior of the trainer and the supervisor was rough and the British fashion consumers were made fun of by the other workers when they made mistakes (Swanson & Frederick, 2016).
There are two types of views on CSR. One is the broad view and the other is the narrow view. The broader view of CSR states that apart from the primary objectives like profit maximization, businesses are also responsible towards the society and community and should operate in a manner that will address the possible negative implications of their businesses, practices and activities. Every business organization works for earning profit. But for earning profits, it is required by the business organizations to function effectively, and for effective functioning it is highly required by the organizations to focus of the effects of their activities on the community, environment and the society (Rangan, Chase, & Karim, 2012). Corporate Social Responsibility, in the broad view, focuses on the betterment of the stakeholders beyond shareholders of the business. It includes all the employees, suppliers and the environment as well. The working conditions, health and safety, and standard of living of the employees and the society are the few areas in which CSR focuses on. The broader concept of CSR also puts stress on the negative impacts of business activities on the environment and aims for making a positive impact on the environment (Schwartz & Saiia, 2012). Therefore, according to the broader concept, CSR extends beyond the profit maximization and shareholder interests of business.
As stated earlier, CSR is categorized into two concepts, namely, the broad and the narrow concept. According to the narrow concept of CSR, the sole purpose of a business organization is to ensure that it makes money, in the form of profit, within the legal framework of the land and therefore, fulfills its obligations towards its shareholders. The narrow concept states that a business fulfills its social responsibility by providing employment to people, which gives them purchasing power, leading to a larger economy. Any other social responsibility is considered as irrelevant or taxing to the profit margin of an organization (Yin & & Zhang, 2012). The narrow view of CSR is more concerned about the activities and improvement within the organization and is limited to the interests of the shareholders, internal policies and the profit margin. Whereas, in the broader concept of CSR, the focus is given on both the internal and external factors that affect a business organization (Öberseder, Schlegelmilch, & Murphy, 2013). Therefore, the narrow concept does not recognize various other important factors like employees, customers, suppliers and environment within the scope of CSR and focuses only on the profit maximization of the business, as according to this concept corporate social responsibility is fulfilled as long as a business fulfills its monetary needs.
The retailers who buy clothes from the Indian factories do not follow the broad concept of CSR as it is evident from the documentary provided. In the beginning of the documentary it clearly shows the rush and craze that people have for buying clothes. The documentary shows that the clothes are sold at high prices and they are not sold at cheap prices. Passion for fashion clothing is so strong that people tend to buy clothes even at high price rates. The Great British High Street has been shown in the documentary, where the retailers buy clothes form Indian factories and meet the increasing demand for clothes of the people (Twigg, 2012). These retailers do not buy clothes from Indian factories with the broad view of CSR as they sell these clothes at higher prices with a sole motive of profit maximization. As the craze for fashion clothing is high, these retailers buy these clothes from Indian factories to meet such high demands as meeting these demands lead to high rate of sales that ultimately results in high rates of profit.
There are various grounds on which arguments have been raised regarding the adoption of the narrow concept of CSR by business organizations. One of the grounds of such argument is the “invisible-hand argument”. This argument is based on Adam Smith’s contention. According to this argument, in a free market organizations must be left or must be given the power to choose and promote their own economic self-interest and while they do so, they will be guided by an “invisible hand” to promote the general greater good (Dubbink, 2013). The argument further states that a corporation or organization is not a moral agent and hence, should be left to do this. In addition, arguments have been raised on the ground that Corporations and Organizations were formed for creating the greatest good through the pursuit of self-interest and therefore, if they are left alone they will do the same. On forcing the organizations on CSR, it will reduce the ability of the organizations to meet the material needs of the society and will ultimately result in reducing people’s well-being (Szmigin & Rutherford, 2013). This argument does not state that organizations are not accountable, but they are held accountable when they fail to meet their economic role and not a moral role.
Like the narrow concept of CSR, there are various grounds of argument for adoption of the broader concept of CSR by a business organization. One of the grounds of such argument is “power involves responsibility”. According to this argument, organizations in the modern times are often large and influential entities and hence, gives them power. With this power comes a responsibility to behave or act ethically towards everyone who is affected by the activities or actions of the organization (Caruana & Chatzidakis, 2014).Therefore, this argument basically states that in the modern times, business organizations are often powerful and they have more power and influence over the government, economy and society. Such power and influence also comes with a corresponding responsibility to take responsibility of the well-being of the all the stakeholders of the business, including the shareholders, suppliers, customers, employees and all those who are affected by the business activities. Furthermore, such powers also bring a responsibility of the organizations to take care of the environment as well (Morgeson, Aguinis, Waldman, & Siegel, 2013). Hence, the broader concept of CSR is highly important for the organizations in the modern times.
In the documentary, the poor implementation of CSR policies can clearly be seen. In the documentary it can be seen that focus is mainly given on the internal activities, production and profit making. In the documentary when the six British fashion consumers went through the training sessions in the factory they came across strict disciplinary rules and found that stress was only given on production of a particular number of garments, which was a daily production target of the factory. The workers in the factory are demoted if they fail to achieve the daily targets, leading to lower wages. Moreover, the workers in the factory are not provided with a proper standard of health and safety and the technology. The factory environment is dirty and unhygienic and no care is taken to make it better. The factory suffers from electricity issues, which increases the workload of the labors and makes the working conditions difficult. The six British fashion consumers, as can be seen in the documentary, found it really difficult to work in such conditions and at such low wage rates. The wages provided to the workers are so low that it becomes difficult for workers to even afford a basic standard of living. Due to the lack of cleanliness, the environment around the factory is also dirty and no care is taken for that (Ksi??ak, 2017). The whole work process of the factory, as shown in the documentary, clearly shows that the factory focuses on production with the sole aim of profit maximization. Hence, these activities as shown in the documentary, clearly shows that the clothing industry (in connection to both the factories) has adopted the narrow view of CSR.
Most of the documentary shows the harsh working conditions of the workers and the poor CSR policy implementation in the clothing factories. The broad concept of CSR, as discussed earlier, states that the organizations have a responsibility towards all the stakeholders, apart from the shareholders, including the employees, suppliers, retailers, customers and others and also towards the environment. The documentary clearly shows that the factories do not focus or give importance to the work conditions, employee’s living standards, their health and safety or towards the environment. Its focus is inclined mainly towards the rate of production and towards the profit maximization (Mezzadri, 2014). Hence, according to the documentary, it is evident that the broad concept of CSR is not implemented by these factories and they do not focus on anything other than profit maximization. Therefore, the activities of the factories, as shown in the documentary, cannot be related to the broad concept of CSR.
The ethic of care is a moral theory, which states that there is a moral theory that states that there is a moral significance in the fundamental elements of relationships and dependencies in the human life. In the normative view, ethics of care is essential for maintaining relationships by promoting the well-being of the care-givers and the care receivers in a network of social relations. The ethics of care is often said to be a practice rather than a theory and it involves the maintaining of the world and needs of our own and the others. The ethics of care focuses and builds on the motivation of those who are vulnerable and dependent. Ethics of care is the follows the sentimentalist tradition of moral theory and it recognizes the importance of caring motivation, emotion and the body in moral deliberation, including reasoning from particulars (Till, 2012). On the other hand, the broad concept of CSR states that the business organizations in the modern days are powerful and hence, they have a duty to take care of all its stakeholders, who are affected by its activities, and the organizations should not only focus on profit earning and shareholders. By all stakeholders, the broad concept CSR states that the organizations have a duty towards its employees, suppliers, customers and the environment as well, as they all are affected by the activities of the business. Taking up of the broad concept of CSR is indeed an ethical practice. This view can be supported by emphasizing on the ethic of care. It is so, because the duty of care rests on the sentimental tradition of moral theory and states that care is an integral element of any relationship and aims for the motivation of those who are dependent and vulnerable. Similarly, according to the broad concept of CSR, in case of organizations, the employees, suppliers, shareholders, customers and the environment are all dependent on and affected by the activities of the organizations and as such, the organizations have a duty to take care and responsibility of them (André, 2013). Hence, it can be said that the broad concept of CSR stresses on the duty of care by the organizations, which is an ethical practice and therefore makes the broad concept of CSR an ethical practice.
The given documentary gives an overview of the working conditions prevailing in the Indian factories and shows the level of CSR implementation by the clothing industries in India. The working conditions are extremely poor with the focus solely given on the profit maximization of the industry. Moreover, the living standards of the workers are very low, the environment inside the factories are unhealthy and dirty and no importance is given to the environment as the factory wastes are dumped outside in an unorganized manner, which leads to pollution. From the above study, that gives a brief of both the narrow and broad concepts of CSR, it is evident that CSR is very much important in today’s world and the organizations are bound by social obligations which includes the welfare of all those who are affected by the activities of the organizations. In this scenario, it can be said that the business professionals can improve the lives of the workers. It is so because the professionals are the ones who decide the policies of the organizations and if they revise their policies based on the broad concept of CSR, then they can make the lives of the workers better (Costa & Menichini, 2013). With time, the importance of CSR has also increased. Therefore, the business professionals are bound by certain morals and social obligations because on case the professionals don’t look into the welfare of all the stakeholders, then the business cannot survive for long, as all the stakeholders, including the employees, suppliers, customers and the environment are affected by and somewhat dependent on the business activities (Cohen, 2017). Hence, it is imperative for the organizations and the business professionals to focus on fulfilling their social and moral obligations. As a business professional, I would firstly adopt better wage policies for the workers so that they can have a better living standard. Secondly, I would use policies providing for a better and healthy working environment. Thirdly, I would use policies for flexible working hours so that the workers don’t get to much stressed with work and lastly, I would ensure that the factory wastes are disposed in an organized way so that the environment outside the factory is not negatively affected.
Therefore, from the above discussion it is evident that the importance of the broad concept of CSR has increased with time and it has become important for the every business organization in the modern times, as without CSR it becomes difficult for the organizations to survive. In this context, the given documentary about Indian factory workers shows the poor CSR implementation by the clothing industry, including the harsh working conditions and living standards of the workers in the factories. From the documentary, it is evident that the implementation of the broad concept of CSR in the Indian clothing factories is very much required.
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