Introduction explaining the Case scenario
Our group has successfully identified an instance of ethical dilemma concerning to labor issue in sweatshops of a leading company. The ethical concern dealing with this situation surrounds instances of labor abuse at the Asian manufacturing units of Nike, a leading name in the footwear, apparel and bag company. Louisa; who is a newly appointed Product line Manager for Nike Asian units; is also the protagonist of the case scenario. During her business trip to these manufacturing units with of aim of lowering the product line cost; she came across such labor abuse instances and finds herself in a difficult situation when required to make a rational decision with respect to the pros and cons and the exact question she ought to address.
Individual Script (Role Play)
Narrator: - In our role play; we take up a situation whereby we are addressing to the problems encountered by the workers at the inhumane practices and Sweatshops in the Asian manufacturing units of a global company; Nike. Louisa in this case performs the role of the protagonist; who is also the newly appointed Product Line Manager of Nike. This personality has bagged the position creating a persuasive impression to the Company administration with her dedicated performance as the assistant production manager and with her loyalty towards the welfare of the company ("Dedicated test facility verifies performance", 2012). However; within few days of continuing with her new role; something really serious makes her worried. On her business trip; she has encountered that major sweatshops are undergoing practices of abusing workers in the contract factories of Nike operating in some of the major Asian countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam and others. This situation keeps her completely bothered and disappointed and arouses her responsibility to take care of the issue and implement steps for its improvement. But biologically belonging to the group of Homo sapiens; she began questioning her conscience whether she is walking in the right track of improving the situation.
Conscience: Our contract factories are undergoing malpractices. The workers are at the threat of making their ends meet despite of their well enough contribution towards their profession. This is not fair (Ogbebor & Uruemu, 2015). The workers are the most important employees of the companies. How can they be exposed to physical and mental abuse? The factory owners are ought to follow the Worker’s Code of Conduct and take necessary care of the employees. Why aren’t they doing so? It is time for the company to do something.
Louisa: But why should I bother myself for them? I am solely responsible to address Nike and work for its productivity and not for those workers working in the Sweatshops of Contract factories. Both my colleagues and the previous manager might be aware of it but choose to ignore.
Conscience: no matter whether your previous managers cared or not. You holding the responsibility of the manager presently; it is your duty to care for your workers who help your company in making money at the cost of their sweat and hard work and ask your superiors whether they are aware of the issue or not (Banja, 2004).
Cara: I am new to the post. It will create a bad impression to my workers and directors. If they don’t agree to my instance; i might also be sacked.
Conscience: you don’t have to fear of losing your job as you are appointed for your caliber. Go ahead and share the issue with them. Adhere to your moral and ethical values that you have learnt all throughout your life till date. It is time to raise your voice against the exploitation of the factory workers. What if it would have been with someone from your family?
Narrator: - Louisa decides going for her conscience and do something for the workers in pain. She organizes a meeting the following week with the Global Product Line Manager of Nike, Mr. Andy.
(After a week at the meeting scenario)
Louisa: Good morning Andy, How are you doing?
Mr. Andy: I am doing well; what about you? Do you like your new position? What is about your work?
Louisa: Yes; everything is fine with the new role except one issue haunting me. This is something serious and has to be taken care of before letting it turn serious.
Mr. Andy: What is it? Please feel free to share.
Louisa: I have recently found that at the production units of our contract companies in Asia; there is something seriously mischievous going on. This deals with the issues of the sweatshops of these contract companies; where the workers are facing threat to their personal welfare. Contractors are not following the code of conduct and are massively exploiting these workers both physically and verbally (Wolf, Delao, & Perhats, 2014). There are also too low paid. More surprisingly; despite of the law strictly abolishing child labors; most of these sweatshops have employed child labors. However on a reverse note; those who are being paid low; in a way contribute totally to our payments and helps in uplifting our company image. I feel it is time for us to do something for them because only the same can help us retain our brand image and product quality.
Mr. Andy: - I wasn’t at all aware of it. Neither any of the employees knew of the same in the past days. Thank you for bringing this instance to my view. You are so truly regarded as an active company employee. I will discuss this matter soon with the board of directors and find out relevant ways to solve it which you also shall be a part of.
Applying the Giving Voice to Values Framework
This situation deals with an instance where a person enjoys the option of selecting only one option of two; both being morally correct and ethical. Defining ethical dilemmas, these situations deals with cases where a person encounters various options but none fitting the exact need of their condition helping them with an opportunity to make the correct decision (Cohen, 2007). Code of conduct, social norms, religious concerns; all form part of giving birth to situations of ethical dilemma. Non-maleficence, justice and Beneficence constitute the major values of ethics.
Types of Ethical Dilemmas
Before getting into the discussion of ethical dilemma encountered in the case scenario; it is important to know about the types of ethical dilemma prevailing ("Ethical dilemmas study", 2015).
- Truth Vs. Loyalty: Any person in a particular position is encountering a problem pertaining to a part of the workplace or anywhere else and knows that the situation is serious sand needs quick action but finds himself or herself in a dilemma between the obligations and promises attached to im/or by her role with the honesty and integrity of the situation (HongSik Park, 2011).
- Individual vs. Community: Such situation of dilemma finds an interaction or merging of the personal interest with the interest of the community where one has to give up either the personal or few terms against the interest of more people i.e. community (Herben & Goldberg, 2013).
- Short term Vs. Long Term: this situation of dilemma deals with future outcomes being dependent on present results; especially future investment whereby a person seeks long term benefits against present profit (Kim, Yang, & Hwang, 2014).
- Justice vs. Mercy: while mercy refers to a situation of being compassionate or forgiving with little or no punishment; Justice strictly adheres to strict and reasonable punishment. When we encounter something wrong and make a leap informing the concerned body about the same is referred to as justice; whereas mercy refers to forgiving a person because of your own shake or any personal relationship despite of knowing his crime (Rothchild, 2011).
Ethical Dilemmas in the case scenario
- Truth vs. Loyalty: Louisa is found in the state of dilemma as if she avoids the situation without paying necessary attention; she will be supporting the truth and will be questioned by her conscience whereas if she discuss the matter or reveal it; she will become disloyal to her company which is helping her to earn bread and butter (Charles, 2014).
- Individual vs. Community: Fearing of losing jobs; all the workers at the factories of the Nike’s Contract companies in Asia are working at low wages and harsh workplace environment. Louisa is in dilemma whether to make these workers aware of their rights and work place rules or to remain silent like most other companies.
- Short term vs. long term: If Louisa takes the short term benefits in mind; then her company as well as the contract companies will be able to earn high profit and keep growing but the situation will get reverse in near future with both encountering loss due to workers dropout (Charles, 2014).
- Justice vs. Mercy: The dilemma keeps Louisa haunting whether to report about the case to her higher authorities or remain silent and let things go as it is.
Stake for the Key Parties
The stakeholders are Company, customers, stake-holders, Louisa, Mr. Andy and the Employees.
- Customers: There is a high tendency for the customers to step back and boycott the product on encountering the company being involved with such malpractices
- Company: The brand name or goodwill of the company will be at threat and it might lose the investors as well as the customers trust (Faucher, 2014).
- Stake holders: - The Company will lose out the profit and encounter loss if the customers boycott the product because such will bring down the interest of the company’s stakeholders.
- Louisa: - All the moral and ethical values of Louisa are at stake besides her relationship with her employees and her own individuality. Her job is also at a stake if her views collide with Mr. Andy.
- John: He might also end up losing his job upon being caught by the Board of Directors that such practices are in existence despite of his leadership.
- Employees: The standard of living and health of the employees are at a stake because of their long hour works and low payment (Faucher, 2014). They are working for the company at the cost of their happiness.
Reasons and Rationalizations
The unethical or malpractice in our daily lives; at our workplace and educational institutions are easily defended by rationalizations and reasons which create a barrier in sound judgment. There are instances where unethical persons have a tendency to favor such a situation by raising up arguments in favor of any unspoken beliefs or questionable moral values relating to an individual or any organization (Hoffmann, 2013). Taking such situations into concern; here are few rationalizations or reasons which Mr. Andy can raise to against Louisa’s view upon her confrontation with him regarding the same:
- Personal Reflection operating their factories in third world countries have become a recent trend among multi-national companies these days to encounter more profit (Czarniawska, 2015). Not only is Nike indulged with such; but there are many other internationally recognized companies who make sale of their product to Asian Countries with the help of contract companies. So Louisa has nothing to feel guilty about.
- Doing Good: So far as Louisa is concerned about the company’s welfare; it is better to stay silent about such matter as till date the company has been able to maximize its success quotient with maximum profit and wealth of the shareholders by simply reducing the production cost ("Case presentations", 2009). On an addition; the extension of business operation by multinational companies in the third world countries; contributes to the increase in their GDP thereby uplifting the country’s economic condition.
- Mutually Beneficial: Sweatshops equally contribute to the welfare of the company as well as the welfare of the workers. It earns them livelihood and uplifts them from poverty. Because of the exchange rate; estimations say that workers working in factories of developing countries are paid much higher compared to those of indulged in some other profession in the same country. There wages are thus ethical as they enjoy better lifestyle than those working for local industries ("Explore Mutually Beneficial Partnership Ideas", 2016). Again they have a job than not having a job at all. Then what is Louisa’s point to protest when both parties are reluctant to carry with the terms?
- Locus of Loyalty: Bound to her work agreement; the main intention of Louisa is to look after the welfare of the company which calms her loyalty (Leisen Pollack, 2013). Therefore she should concentrate on her duty for the company than worrying about the foreign workers.
- Part of job: Andy sharing a high post; can order Louisa to stop worrying about such complicated issues as it’s not her part of job.
Counter arguments to reasons and rationalizations
- Louisa can take a step to make Andy remember of the Worker’s Code of Conduct that clearly states that all the factories in operation are subjected to follow these working standards (Nelson, 2005). Such standards includes no-discrimination upon sex, caste, creed and race; anti-harassment both verbally and physically; safety and health; voluntary employment and others.
- Andy can be persuaded by Louisa by making him understand that though the prevalent work condition in the sweatshops of the Asian contract companies is profitable in the short run; in the long run the same situation will bring up huge loss for the owner company with the same losing its brand name (Rubenstein, 2014).
- The company’s practices thus cannot be advantageous since it is hampering both the welfare of itself and the workers involved; by paying them low wages and forcing them to work under unhealthy workplace environment (Nelson, 2005).
- Louisa can make Andy aware that if the master company “Nike” does not take any action now; in the coming days the international as well as national compliance and regulatory bodies might turn up taking action against the company putting its brand name under stake (Rubenstein, 2014). Such a situation will be worse with more than thousands of workers losing their jobs.
Most powerful counter argument
Manual labor is the most important asset of any company even after industrial revolution. In such a context; standing away from eth case resembles supporting the prevalent situation of the workplace and under estimating the rights and dignity of the workers. One should remember that it is not ethical to treat human beings as a mean to attain ends; but to treat a ends in itself (Richman & Reynolds, 2013). Thus being a reputed company; it is the duty of Nike’s authority to take up appropriate measure to uplift the condition of the workers.
Such counter argument should be addressed to Mr. Andy upon his raising rationalizations and reasons for supporting the scenario.
We all face some instances upraising our ethical dilemma in our daily life. While for some such a situation might arise at their workplace; for few others such condition might pop up their personal life and we face a challenge solving the situation skillfully. Unfortunately most fearing of further problems; avoid listening to conscience and chose decisions based on mercy. However; in this case; Louisa despite of keeping her job at stake; chose to skillfully handle the situation and counter reason her points to her boss successfully persuading him to look after the matter. He promised Louisa to discuss the matter with the Board of Directors so as to take their help for improving the workplace situation for these workers working in the sweatshops of the contract companies.
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