The intention of this essay is to explore the issues surrounding research carried out by Nottingham University. The research has suggested that students lose their morals after returning from working in business. In this essay I am trying to find out why this is.
I think that everybody starts out with their own opinions or views on how to judge ethics. For some religions, cultures or age groups the view has a major difference. In business I think it is different again, surely the whole point of being in business is to try to make your business as successful as possible? And the way that business is measured as successful is usually in the way of its profits. But if the public were to disagree with a company’s ethics, would it affect their profits?
In my opinion, this quote from Ambrose Bierce says a lot about the way businesses pass the blame
“Corporation, n., An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.” (Ambrose Bierce, 1906)
I had a look for examples of business practising immoral behaviour. When I started my research I was looking for the actual manager, being the person to blame for the immorals. I found that it was very hard to get one single name or one person who was taking the blame.
My first thoughts are that the Nottingham university students are following the example of businesses we see as successful. But when we look closer at how the businesses made their profits, lots of them have sacrificed their morals in order to make money. So are we just following in their footsteps, knowing that the easiest way to become successful is to abandon our morals?
... the business is making a huge profit. That shows the company is using its employees ... how far would they go to make a profit? I feel that businesses should not be allowed to fire the employees when ... , it showed that communities are hurt by businesses that use local employees to get profit early, and then they drop them once ...
One of the first companies I came across was ‘Nestle’. Nestle is a worldwide company that has thousands of products though it is mainly known for its breakfast cereals and coffee. Two years ago, there was a huge boycott against nestle for their breast milk sales in Africa. Nestle owns over 50% of the worlds breast milk substitute market and most of its products are sold in third world countries. It started by nestle promoting their products by giving away free samples to struggling mothers. In promotional advertising in these countries nestle was pushing the idea that twins and premature babies need to have breast milk substitute as they are unable to breastfeed. Also, a lot of their instructions or health warnings are not on the bottles or are in a foreign language to the country they are being sold in.
Another issue nestle was being criticised on was exploiting employees. When workers in Brazil striked against poor working conditions, pay and discrimination against women, forty employees were sacked, most of which were the people who were leading the strike.
There is proof from legal aid charities that nestle has been targeting and profiting out of third world countries for over twenty years now. So why did it only come to light in 2003? Personally, I think it was because of media attention. It was widely covered by the daily mail and the guardian.
The guardian published this quote:
“Nestle, in the first six months of this year, made a profit of 3.7bn Swiss francs (£1.63bn), up 32% from a year ago.” (Mark Tran, 2005, the guardian)
This was published on the 1st September 2005 just after nestle had published their annual report showing that they were then making more profit than ever before. So all in all, the top management for nestle were doing an outstanding job (profit wise), the business was successful. But by now they had over 20 countries with organisations trying to boycott them.
Nestle claimed they had not done anything wrong. In a way they were right (legally anyway), there WAS nothing wrong with their breast milk, it was sterile, cheap, nutritious and it only had to be mixed with water. It was being sold all over the world to healthy children in Britain and America also. What was going wrong in the third world countries was that the milk powder was being mixed with contaminated water. The state of the contaminated water in Africa couldn’t be helped.
... problem in these Third World countries was being nutritional. It became a debate whether not to give infants breast milk or formula; how to ... change its promotional policies. Marketing Strategy In 1982, Nestle under immense pressure by the World Health Organization (WHO) stated a new policy for ...
Nestle hit back to the campaign:
“Nestle claims to have a strong Corporate Social Responsibility policy, taking social issues very seriously, especially as they relate to health and nutrition.” (Unnamed nestle spokesperson, 2003, answers.com)
“Nestle does comply with both the letter and the spirit of the world health Organisation’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes as well as with national regulations giving effect to the WHO Code when these are stricter”
(Chemist Henri Nestlé, 1867, nestle infant policy)
Finally the world health organisation stepped in and said that although pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should be told of the benefits of breastfeeding, they should also be given the option to use powdered milk. Nestle also started to give mothers more information about the social and financial opinions of using powdered milk.
They said that nestle had broken part of the 1981 health code of breast milk substitutes by giving away free sample to encourage people to buy their products.
‘’Manufacturers and distributors should not distribute to pregnant women or
Mothers or infants and young children any gifts of articles or utensils which may
Promote the use of breast-milk substitutes or bottle-feeding.” (1981, the world health organization)
So Nestle stopped campaigning with their harsh advertising so much. They still continue to trade over in Africa and Brazil, now they are trying to build bridges by building schools and cleaning water.
They have now a section on their website all about the breast milk issue and the main title is:
... kills 5x more unskilled workers than professional) and mental ill health. (http://www.nhshistory.net/savinglives.html, NHS History, Geoffrey Rivett) ... ,000 people a year), scabies and typhus. (http://www.world-war-2.info/statistics/ World War 2 statistics) (11) NHS (1948) ... invaded – which therefore resulted in Britain protecting Poland. During world war 2, around 400,000 British soldiers died, and ...
“Nestle: Committed to the encouragement of breastfeeding all over the world”
(nestle.co.uk, developing world issues)
I think that it was a very big gamble for nestle to start pushing their products on countries who could afford them but relied on it. It could have paid off if it wasn’t for media interest. Unfortunately for nestle it has damaged its reputation.
I think that nestle weren’t necessarily being unethical, I think that they maybe overlooked the standard of living in these countries. As far as business goes, it was obviously a good move because they made a great profit out of the campaign and if it wasn’t for the morals of other countries it could still be going as strong.
Because nestle carried on promotion their products when they knew it was ethically wrong, to me that is a prime example of how businesses sacrifice their ethics for profits.
Ambrose Bierce 1842-1914, American columnist, The Devils Dictionary 1906
Mark Tran, journalist, the guardian, 1/9/2005
Unnamed Nestle spokesperson, conference October 14th 2003 http://www.answers.com/topic/nestl
Nestle infant policy, 1867, Chemist Henri Nestlé, amended by the nestle company
1981, international code of marketing breast milk substitute, the world health organization, article 5.4
Developing world issues, author and date unknown