Last week, General Motors recalled another 7 to 8 million cars for ignition-switch defects that dated back more than 15 years. There had been allegations that GM had known about the problems with their cars, yet ignored them in order to minimize costs and keep its reputation for quality intact. Although the CEO, Mary Barra, claims that none of the accusations are true, one must ask, how could it have gone on for so long? (The company also says it knew about three deaths involving affected cars.) The economy is in a tight place, but does that justify making business decisions that may seem unethical just to turn a profit? It is a similar situation to the Ford Pinto calamity, in which the company decided that casualties caused by its cars’ issues were less expensive than actually fixing each affected car. In a world where making a profit is the most important goal in business, it seems like ethical business practices are at an all-time-low.
It may seem very difficult to remain faithful and ethical in a cut-throat work environment, but it is important to keep in mind that there are other objectives to business: preserving the market, being successful and pushing those around us to do well. Share this article with young adults and discuss ways to keep business ethical and faithful.
- What are some examples (past and present) of ways that businesses overlook aspects of morality in order to be more profitable?
- Why do you think big businesses (and small businesses) act in this way, other than for expanded profits?
- If you were the CEO of a major company, how would you make sure that you and your employees stayed faithful to the company’s moral code?
- How can a business change the definition of competition from mercilessness to something that’s beneficial for everyone?
- How do you deal with the dilemma of being both competitive and faithful in the workplace?