Product-Liability Debate

As  public pressure for corporate accountability and ethical behavior  increases, businesses and industries are putting more emphasis on  establishing and publicly sharing their codes of ethics with  stakeholders. Businesses adopt these to help guide corporate  decision-making, but they can be used against them when businesses stray  from their stated codes. For instance, Enron’s 64-page code of ethics  was Exhibit #1 at the trial of its CEO, Ken Lay, after the company  imploded. Stuart Gilman, president of the Ethics Resource Center in  Washington, D.C., said that, for Enron, “ethics was simply a piece of  paper with three Ps—print, post [in the company lunchroom], and then  pray that something is actually going to happen.”

In order to complete this discussion assignment, you will need to:

  1. Select a company that you are familiar with as a customer, employee, or investor.
  2. Locate  a copy of the company’s code of ethics. You can generally find this on  their Web site in the “About Us” section of the site. Make sure to get  the link/URL for the code of ethics when you are there, because you need  to include that link in your initial post.
  3. Do  some general research about the company you selected regarding possible  activities by the company or its leadership that either violates or  supports this code of ethics. You will use this information to support  the position you take in your initial post.

For Discussion

  1. Share the company you selected, the link/URL to the company’s code of ethics, and your reason for selecting the company.
  2. Based  on your reading of the company’s code of ethics, and your research into  the activities of the company, what grade would you give them for  adhering to their code of ethics? Use the same grading scale you are  evaluated by: A, B, C, D, F. Provide your reasoning for assigning them  the grade you did.
  3. Now,  consider the industry in which the company operates (e.g., Disney in  the entertainment industry). Are there forces at work in that industry that makes it easier or harder to be ethical?
  4. Are  there external factors (public opinion, social norms, attitudes,  values) that influence public perception of the company’s ethical  behavior? For example, even though cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris  may conduct its business according to its own code of ethics, some  people believe it is unethical for them to make and sell a product that  is known to cause cancer.
  5. Does a company’s adherence or non-adherence to a code of ethics influence your decision to do business with them?

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