The Covid-19 Pandemic has created a surge in both personal and corporate social responsibility. From providing meals to making donations to putting in new safety/cleanliness measures, countries worldwide are doing their part to help. One real-life example of corporate social responsibility is the creation of quarantine hotels. The hotel industry was hit hard by vacancies caused by the pandemic. Leadership teams at many hotels decided to turn that negative into a positive by providing rooms to medical personnel at little to no cost so that they could protect their families from exposure. They also began offering discounted rates, partly subsidized by governments, to incoming travelers under mandatory quarantine. Not only do these efforts do good for society, but they also allow hotels to keep staff employed during a time when jobs can be in short supply (Teng et al., 2021).
Quarantine hotels showed me that doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing can bring profitability as a side effect. Companies that invest in their employees’ happiness and development will enjoy the loyalty of experienced and knowledgeable team members that have an intrinsic desire to do their best. Historically speaking, that will lead to profitability. Companies that also consider their impact on society will have an excellent public image and gain their loyalty, leading to profitability. Keeping the corporate focus on social responsibility will help companies avoid short-sighted thinking and help them succeed in the long run. I would like to think that I would have done the same if I was a hotel owner. I would also consider opening my kitchen up to create meals for senior citizens stuck in their homes due to quarantine.
From a personal standpoint, ethics have been “top of mind” in almost everything we do. From quarantines to social distancing, to vaccines and wearing a mask, making adjustments to our daily routines for the sake of our society’s most vulnerable has become a part of our everyday lives. I have used this experience to teach my children about doing the right thing even when it is not the obvious or easy choice. We have had many conversations about the greater good and resiliency.
In March of 1987, the Fair Trading Act 1986 (FTA) became effective. Part 1 of this act protects consumers from deception and ethical suppliers from less than honest competitors. FTA covers anything likely to mislead a typical consumer (Lyonski, 1992). Companies need to be extra careful to ensure that their product offerings’ products, pricing, and marketing are not misleading. To protect themselves from potential issues related to the FTA, companies must:
· verify that all packing is representative of its contents,
· ensure pricing signs are current and accurate,
· consider which suppliers it places its trust in, and
· be attentive to providing realistic timelines.
Not only do these proactive measures protect consumers, but they also help companies avoid significant fines. The FTA is good for society because it forces those that are not inherently honest to act with integrity or potentially suffer repercussions. Another way to foster ethical decision-making is for executives to lead by example. Companies that create cultures which value honesty are more likely to have employees that act ethically.
A personal ethics situation for myself was when I was at the store, and I received $20 extra in my change. The bills were stuck together. Normally, if I notice a mistake in change right away, or close to the source, I immediately will make it right, return any over payment and move on with my day. I have worked retail, and know how easy it can be to grab 2 bills, or give incorrect change by human error. The dilemma here was I had quickly put away my change, and had driven home, and not realized the additional money until later that day. It was easy to justify that I made no error, I was so far away now, I have to pay gas now to return it, etc etc… but, in the end, I did not let anything justify me keeping the money, and returned it that day, to the same register. (I also know the importance of keeping a ‘till balanced same day, and me returning the $20 days later may have gotten lost in the wash for that company). What I learned from this situation is how easy justifications can creep up, and start making sense. When we sit and think of a situation, it can seem easy to say “I will do the right thing”… but as the situation plays out, there are many levels that justification, excuses, and reasoning can lead us to the unethical ending.
A corporate ethics situation I can remember is Wells Fargo bank. Wells Fargo has had a few back to back “scandals”. I use to be a member there, many years ago, and am glad I am no longer affiliated with them. High pressure to meet sales quotas, many layers of management ignoring red flags and mis-operations, and many other sales pressure and fraud has painted this company in such a bad light for me and others (Kelly, 2021). Pressuring staff is an easy gateway to unethical behavior and outcomes (Kelly, 2021). Staff began lying, and manipulating data as to “not get into trouble” or to get their bonus or sales goal meet (Kelly, 2021). I have learned through reading and listening to Wells Fargo’s troubles that keeping pressure too high, and having ridged non realistic standards usually leads to humans fudging numbers and breaking rules to meet their mark.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, has some major highlights to look at and keep an eye on. Some of these highlights are: Watching Wall Street, with the financial stability oversight council, and identifying risks within the financial and banking industries, watches giant insurance companies with the federal insurance office (FIO), stopping speculation in banking depositories, and monitors other risky and potential industry collapsing behaviors and trends (Amadeo, 2020). The Dodd-Frank act made major changes and headway to the United States banking and insurance industries to say the least. Creating new offices and councils, monitoring new metrics, and starting to regulate previously unregulated areas of business and finance gave consumers another layer of protection and comfort (Amadeo, 2020). I do think that the Dodd-Frank Act promotes ethical behavior in businesses and banking in the US. Knowing that checks and balances are in place will lead a majority of companies to comply and operate within their ethical and legal limits. Without oversight and regulation, it is far too easy for a company to bend the rules, make moves that are risky and/or illegal, and to play too fast and loose. Knowing oversight is happening, a majority of companies will comply and follow the basic rules.