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Historical Background of Business Ethics of Fortune 500 Companies

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April 2022

1. Introduction

1.1 History of Business Ethics

Business ethics has developed across time and disciplines, with numerous systems and frameworks forming how organizations should behave themselves. Business ethics is the study of how an organization's members' actions and behaviors are compared to the collective ideals of the company to assess whether or not they are acceptable. Additionally, they said that the three components that make up an individual's moral values are their guiding ideas, character, and the repercussions of their actions (Aljafari, 2016).

Excellent ethics make for good business, and firms' fundamental obligation is to provide an atmosphere conducive to ethical behavior. Systematic evaluation of the efficacy of compliance systems with ethical programs may help achieve this goal. Large corporations were replacing small and medium-sized firms. In the 1970s, corporate ethics advanced to a new level. Companies today adhere to a set of values that includes self-awareness and social responsibility. It has evolved into a necessary component of company operations (Ferguson, 2017).

Concerns about commercial tactics that violate ethical standards aren't going away soon. Ethical concerns must be taken into consideration from a strategic viewpoint by corporate leaders in the future to act following their stated goals. It's essential to watch for inconsistencies in a company's words and actions. Human rights commitments, for example, should be more than just a policy statement; they should be backed by initiatives to assess and mitigate consequences, include the supplier chain, and reveal and address continuing difficulties. It's impossible to run a business without dealing with these issues. Companies will have to take on social responsibility rather than relying just on legal counsel in the future (Demir, 2017).

2. Ethical System of Walmart

Walmart is a well-known multinational corporation. Walmart has been recognized to have various ethical difficulties in the past. The mission statement was established to assist individuals in saving money and living a more fulfilling life. Walmart has been working hard to repair its reputation by emphasizing diversity, philanthropic contributions, and nutrition and sustainability initiatives. Walmart began using the Sustainability Index to review and distribute information about its goods; it was also utilized as a model for private companies in the United States (Aljafari, 2016).

Additionally, Walmart utilizes this to provide new evaluating criteria for major sourcing merchants to urge purchasers to include sustainability in their everyday work. The Sustainability index ranked goods and suppliers on various measures, including sourcing, chemical use, etc. When Walmart decided to have things created in the United States, it was a pioneer. Walmart is said to be unappealing to its workers. Walmart has been accused of failing to offer health insurance to more than 60% of its workers. Walmart has improved its health benefits, although fewer workers were qualified for them due to one drawback. Over the years, Walmart has been embroiled in a slew of controversies (Ramazzotti, 2015). Walmart's brand continues to depreciate as the years pass. According to Walmart, it is more cost-effective to source their goods from countries other than the United States. Corporate governance develops fundamental structures and procedures for detecting and preventing misbehavior, investigating and penalizing wrongdoing, and recovering and improving. Walmart must implement solid corporate governance to foster compliance and ethical culture in which workers believe that integrity is vital to the company's competitiveness.

2.1 Walmart Ethical system

Walmart's founding principles included three objectives: individual respect, customer service, and striving for excellence. As a result, Walmart employs cutting-edge technology to manage inventories better and save costs by dealing directly with producers rather than via an intermediary. Walmart's philosophy may be traced back to Sidwick's dualism, which aims to reconcile ethical egoism and utilitarianism (Stanwick & Stanwick 2016).

2.2 The Ethical Code of Walmart.

Wallmart's worldwide success may be attributed to the company's founding ideology and the use of effective leadership and management practices. Employees, partners, suppliers, and contractors are expected to develop a similar culture and values in Walmart's 2019 ESG report. Wal-code Mart's ethics covers a wide range of topics, from anti-corruption to anti-trust to consumer safety to environmental protection to anti-money laundering to food quality assurance to health and safety to occupational health and safety to privacy to product quality assurance ethical sourcing. The Audit Committee is responsible for risk supervision of ethics and compliance concerns. Ethics and compliance programs comprise six fundamental components: leadership, risk assessment, standards and measures, awareness, training, monitoring, and reaction (Zuboff, 2016).

3. Ethical System of Amazon

Utilitarians prioritize the result of their acts above the methods or reasons that provided the rationale for their actions. Hence, they prioritize the result if it benefits the most significant number of people. This mentality is ingrained in Amazon's vision and goal, which are preoccupied with ensuring that customers' demands are met. Thanks to their competitive edge, Amazon's customer relationship management strategies have given them a leg up on their competitors. We'll look at how Amazon's ethics mirror the utilitarianism mindset that pervades the corporation (Demir, 2017).

3.1 The ethics of Amazon

An ethical code of conduct that includes standards for employee health and safety and zero tolerance for workplace discrimination and harassment is part of Amazon's standard operating procedure as a market leader. Also, Amazon has set up a mechanism for reporting code of ethics infractions, bribery, and payment to government officials. Additionally, its information and technology regulations address record-keeping, reporting, and financial integrity. Amazon also has regulations against price rigging (Ferguson, 2017).

Dedication to its employees has led Amazon to pay its workers beyond the minimum wage, embrace diversity at work and promote equal pay and equal opportunity for all employees, no matter their ethnicity or physical or mental impairment. Amazon agrees that climate change caused by humans is real and significant and that governmental and private sector action is required. When it comes to cutting carbon emissions, Amazon has committed to using renewable energy sources and integrating them into its business practices. Amazon values its customers and recognizes the value of protecting their data (Aljafari, 2016).

3.2 Amazon Code of Conduct Evaluation.

Amazon has drawn a great deal of attention due to its many ethical lapses. The Ethical Consumer addresses many ethical challenges, including insufficient effort to combat climate change. Tax evasion, employee abuse, pollution, hazardous waste, reckless marketing, problematic technologies, anti-social financing, environmental reporting breaches, and political activities. Although having well-crafted procedures to assure ethical compliance, Amazon has more to do to ensure it manages its company responsibly for the benefit of its stakeholders. Customers may shift away from Amazon in favor of firms with better reputations for ethical business practices if it does not comply with these requirements. There is room for commercial development and social responsibility for the e-commerce behemoth if they want to keep its image and brand loyalty (, 2017).

4. Ethical System of Ross Dress for Less

Ross shops Inc., based in California, is the country's biggest discount retailer. Ross runs 1,350 locations throughout the US under the labels Ross Dress With Less and Discounted D. Ross owes its success to its ability to recruit and keep outstanding personnel and be very picky about its stores. Ross's sales have grown by 5% on average each year over the last few years. Same Sales in retail refers to sales from existing establishments throughout time. With the ability to identify sales from both new and current locations, the investor can make more informed decisions. (Zuboff, 2016)

4.1 The Ethics of Ross Dress for Less

Ross is highly demanding in where they locate shops. The store's location is determined by the amount of prospective foot traffic and the presence of other businesses nearby. As a result of the high expense of leasing space in these places, none of the shops are placed in ideal retail locations. Ross's shop location concept enables the company to pass along savings to consumers. Choosing the correct location for a shop is important to Ross, as is the retail layout. Ross can swiftly make modifications due to the shops' simple layout, saving them money. Each Ross shop is supplied with a small amount of merchandise, which helps keep inventory storage expenses low. It also enables items to migrate quickly and become new. Also, the shops are deemed sans frills. Ross saw growth before, through, and beyond the recession, allowing them to expand into new markets (Clement, 2020).

Suspicious code violations should be reported to safeguard Ross Stores Inc. and its personnel's reputation and integrity. Employees who break the law or corporate code will be disciplined up to and beyond dismissal. Additionally, any associate who fails to disclose known or suspected code breaches may face punishment. Associates who breach the laws or the policy may be subject to civil penalties, criminal fines, and in some instances, jail sentences. The whole organization has been punished, not just the offending employee. The corporation may face hefty penalties and fines in such cases. If an associate has a conflict of interest, they must completely disclose it to the business (Ramazzotti, 2015).

Additionally, Ross views Walmart and Target as competitors. TJ X Enterprises has divided its houseware items into different shops, while Ross retained clothes and furnishings in the same outlet. Separating housewares from clothes has enabled TJX Companies to provide clients with a broad choice of houseware items. Ross's online shopping presence has grown over the previous two years to compete with other online merchants like eBay and large department shops like Macy's.

4.2 Ross Red Code of Conduct Evaluation

Ross Dress is dedicated to doing business with integrity and has developed a code of ethics regulations that all workers and suppliers follow. Human labor and human rights are covered by the Ross Red code of ethics, which promotes equal treatment, the elimination of forced labor and trafficking, the protection of minors working, compensation and rewards, freedom of expression, health and safety, chemical exposure prevention, waste management, and environmental effect. Security, confidentiality, and privacy are all addressed under the code of ethics.

5. Ethical System of Costco

Established in its current form in 1995, the organization has integrated several key ideals and concepts into its operations in the future. The company's purpose and vision have created the groundwork for achieving strategic objectives and positive business outcomes. The attainment of corporate goals and eradicating ethical issues in business are impossible without a code of ethics. Additionally, it adds to the resolution of the conflict of interest issue. Companies' social responsibilities are measured by how well they operate and how often they break ethical norms (Zuboff, 2016).

5.1 The Ethics of Costco

Costco has such a clear and plain forward ethical code, and it contains important topics that they concentrate on across their company.

a) Comply with the letter and spirit of the law.

b) Ensure the well-being of its members.

c) Respect our sources.

While their business stated mission and code of conduct contain much more depth, these things seem to be extremely straightforward and clear forward to the layperson. There are few huge, superfluous words or business jargon utilized. Reading about Costco instantly reveals its commitment to its staff. Since they employ so few people, their staff turnover is exceptionally low, and they provide hourly wages of at least $20.00. None of these things happens very often (Ramazzotti, 2015).

Costco is concerned with the well-being of its workers, and its employees are concerned with the company's well-being. As a consequence, everyone's focus shifts to quality. They are not slapping exorbitant markups on their items or dazzlingly outfitting their shops and offices. A large-volume warehouse store selling high-quality items at a fair price provides precisely what they promise. By keeping their staff happy, they can keep their members pleased, which results in increased earnings. Even if they could improve profitability, which is not Costco's number one goal, and as a Costco member, I could well be happier with their beliefs. By concentrating their efforts on the correct things, they have consistently improved their sales and inventory over the years (Zuboff, 2016).

6. Conclusion

Companies should adhere to high ethical standards to increase earnings and become more sustainable concerning rivals.   Red Ross, Costco, Amazon, and Walmart were founded on different values and beliefs reflected in their distinct business models. Ross Red adheres to the ethical egoism school of thought, whereas Walmart and Amazon adhere to Sidwick's dualism school of thought. Customers are at the heart of Walmart and Amazon's operations, as reflected in their missions, visions, and values. Companies must now implement CSR initiatives to meet stakeholder demands and adapt to the changing operating environment to stay competitive. As a result, even firms formerly opposed to CSR, such as Amazon, have recently jumped on board. Compared to Amazon's CSR efforts, Walmart appears to be doing a respectable job. Amazon and Walmart continue to be criticized for their ethical transgressions, including tax evasion, unethical marketing, and child labor.

Because of the intense competition in business, some companies may be forced to use unethical tactics to stay competitive and increase profits. Tax evasion is one of the unethical activities used to minimize operating costs and boost revenues, increasing margins and outpacing competitors. Ethical business practices help businesses acquire a competitive edge by generating positive externalities required for the firm's long-term success. Management philosophy should reflect these firms' efforts to improve their ethical standards and maximize their CSR efforts. Everyone has room for improvement if they want to keep doing what they've been doing.

ReferencesAljafari, A. (2016). Walmart inc. Industry analysis business policy and strategy. International journal of scientific & engineering research, 7(3), (2017). Diversification and inclusion at Amazon. Retrieved from, J. (2020). Amazon statistics. Retrieved from, A. (2017). Management Information System: Case Study of Amazon.Com. Journal of Research in Business and Management, 4(11), 11-17.Ferguson, E. (2017). Inc stakeholders' corporate social responsibility analysis.

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