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Business Ethics Assignment Analyzing The Case Of American Tuna

Question

Task: Write a detailed business ethics assignment critically analyzing the practice of promoting slavery in supply chain of American Tuna?

Answer

Part 1A
Ethical Issues

The core purpose of this report on business ethics assignment is to make the manager of the American Tuna company aware of their practice of promoting slavery in their supply chain. American Tuna was established by six American Poles and Line fishing families in San Diego, California in the year 2005. The company delivers high quality canned albacore tuna to its customers (Seattle Fish, 2018.). The Pacific is the hub of Tuna fishes and from here 60% of the global Tuna demand is addressed. American Tuna is one of those companies operating its supply chain in the South East Asia Pacific region (Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, 2020). From the report of Business $ Human Rights Resource Centre, (2019) it has been found that 2/3 of all companies have their human rights policies. Half of the companies have human rights due diligence procedure. Only one organization (Thai Union) is there that has effectively outlined its human rights due diligence process in a detailed manner. Among all the companies which are surveyed, most of them are unable to reflect their human rights policies and they did not even take effective steps to mitigate slavery in their supply chains, and American Tuna is one of them. It can be said that American Tuna is the worst organization among them in terms of outlining the Human Rights diligence process.

Ethics is a very sensitive aspect of a business. Ethical codes allow an organization to follow steps that never harm the community or the organization itself. This business ethics assignmentdirectly targets the managers of American Tune to consider this ethical issue seriously and take steps accordingly. The managers need to understand that by promoting slavery in the supply chain the company (American Tuna) may produce some of the best quality packaged tuna for the customers, but it will never be able to establish sustainability in the business, especially social sustainability (Hodal , 2019).

Role of Business in Society
A business does not have only a corporate role it has a social role as well. This is the reason more companies are engaging their time and money for Corporate Social Responsibility practices. From previous research it has been found that there is a direct connection between organizational ethics and brand image. It can be said that the relation between these two variables is positive. This means, when an organization is ethical it can establish a positive brand image in the customers' eyes. Similarly, when an organization is unethical or if it promotes unethical practices it will automatically generate a negative brand image to the customers (Egan-Wyer, et al., 2014).

American Tune needs to consider ethical practices. In the Business and Human Rights report American Tuna is considered as the worst organization which still does not outline its human rights due diligence clearly. Such a negative promotion is able to lower its brand image in front of its other competitors. The brand needs to understand that the Tuna industry is highly competitive, and in the Southeast Asian Pacific region 35 fisheries are operating in this business (Hart, 2019). In order to achieve a competitive advantage over these companies American Tuba has to outline its Human rights due diligence clearly. Previous research states that there is a direct connection between organizational ethics and competitive advantage (Kain, & Sharma, 2014). In this regard, American Tuna should improve all the areas where it is lacking as compared to its competitors to achieve a competitive advantage over them (Leschin-Hoar, 2018). From the Business and Human Rights report it can be seen that American Tuna is listed in one of the least positions among other organizations. In all of the ethical areas the company is lacking. From the report considered in the business ethics assignment it can be seen that unlike the Thai Union, Metro AG, Bumble Bee Foods, Woolworth, Coles Group etc., American Tuna is failing all the determined ethical parameters. American Tuna is unable to make effective policies to stop slavery in its supply chain, its supply chain visibility is shady, the number of implemented remedies is almost nothing, the practical actions are also at the initial stage, and last but not the least the stakeholders' engagement is also poor at this time.

Who are the five stakeholders involved in the case of business ethics assignment?
Stakeholders play a significant role in any business. Every organization has mainly two categories of stakeholders, such as internal and external stakeholders. American Tuna is also not an exception. When it comes to the American Tuna brand it also has both types of stakeholders, and their role in this unethical practice of slavery in the supply chain is vital. Due to this unethical practice, the most victimized stakeholder is the workers who actually for the company by staying at the front line of the business. The lower level workers of American Tuna are the core drivers of its business, and when they are humiliated by their authority it reduces the overall morale of the organization.

On the other hand, the customers are another major stakeholder of American Tuna. Customers are also misguided by not providing correct information related to the company's human rights policies and how they treat with their front-line lower level workers. American Tune tries to reflect a clean and premium brand image by delivering the best quality canned tuna to its customers, but ethical behavior with the workers is also required for the company to be sustainable (BC Campus, 2020).

It is stated in the business ethics assignment that the higher-level managers have a key role in the context of slavery in American Tuna's supply chain. The managers the ones who actually driving the unethical activities of slavery in the supply chain. In a tuna brand like American Tuna, there is no such protest come from the side of middle and higher-level managers this is the reason why the management staff gets more interested in humiliating the lower level workers in their supply chain. The fourth major stakeholder is the management team of American Tuna. This team is the initiator of such unethical activity and they must stop such actions in the first place. The management has to understand the long-term negative impact of unethical activities on the brand and should take initiative to bring change in this trend of slavery in the supply chain. The last but one of the most important stakeholders is the local government. In order to stop slavery in the government should take action and make effective human rights policies that organizations like American Tune will bound to follow.

Example of Good and bad ethics
When it comes to the public views towards the organization named American Tuna, then definitely the company should represent its human right policies and due diligence in a very clear and transparent manner so that it can promote good ethical practices for building a positive perception of the customers. When it comes to good ethical practices some common examples can be provided. For example, an organization can be called an ethical when if it promotes fair management practices for the employees, encourages an eco-friendly approach to doing business or providing fair treatment to the suppliers.

Recommendations
The recommendations to American Tuna are very specific as given in the following section of business ethics assignment.

  • The company needs to build effective human rights policies to stop slavery in the supply chain.
  • The company should clearly outline its human rights due diligences publicly
  • The company should make its supply chain more visible to the government and to the public as well.
  • The implementation of remedies has to be fast.
  • Practical actions need to be taken as fast as possible
  • The stakeholders’ engagement should be high and positive as well.
  • The company can take help from the local and American governments to mitigate such unethical practices if required.

Part 1B
This particular section of the business ethics assignmentis the target to select two ethical; theories and relate them with the ethical issue American tuna is facing. The first ethical theory is John Rawls Social Justice Theory. Mr. John Rawls was an American Philosopher within the liberal tradition. The core focus of his study is surrounded by the context of justice. This particular theory is not helpful towards helping organizations to fight against ethical dilemmas, rather it is focused on usual concepts that consider in which way the justice system should behave within a liberal democracy. Rawls’ theory mostly focused on the concept of liberalism and it structures the basis for what system and enforcement of law should struggle for the liberal and pluralistic community.

During the study Rawls identified certain issues of social contract. The major issue is that social contract does not allow equality and fairness to have existed and this is the reason why the main propose of a social contract is usually negotiated under a "veil of ignorance". In this method the negotiators are not able to identify their sexual orientation, gender, age, education and other characteristics to assure the fairness of the social contract. In his theory, Rawls finally mentioned that justice is equal to fairness. Rawls in his justice theory two different principles have been identified, such as:

1. Every member is eligible to have equal rights to the most extensive fundamental liberty, well-matched with the liberty of others.
2. The economic and social inequalities need to be arranged in such a way so that, a) it is sensibly accepted to everyone's advantage and b) it stays attached to different positions and stays open to all (Egeand Igersheim, 2010).
From the analysis of Rawls Justice Theory presented in the business ethics assignment three fundamental elements have been found, such as original position, veil of ignorance and unanimity of acceptance. Now, each of these elements of this theory will be linked to the case study of the American Tuna company. By considering the first principle that is 'original theory' the managers of American Tuna will come to a contractual agreement with the front line workers regarding how the resources will be distributed based on the theory of fairness and justice. This particular agreement will not represent the present condition rather it will represent the future state of fair relationship between the managers and frontline workers of American Tuna. When it comes to veil of ignorance, then if it is applied by the managers of American Tuna the workers will avoid slavery. Behind the veil of ignorance the managers as well as the workers will not be able to understand whether they would be slave owners or slaves, and this is the reason they would refuse slavery from the supply chain of fishery companies (Gobry, 2015).

Lastly if Unanimity has been applied in the American Tuna company then there will be an agreement between the workers and the managers in the given situation of slavery. In this agreement both the groups will be able to consider common decisions as a symbol of political, social, solitary, unity and procedural. Unanimity will be presumed after the consideration of an agreed vote. Through this principle, the problem of slavery can be mitigated in organizations like American Tuna.

The second theory is the Kantian theory of ethics. To the Kantian's there are two basic questions that need to be asked before performing any sort of activities, first of al can an individual is able to perform the act rationally? If the answer is ‘no’ then definitely he/she should not go for that particular action. The second question is whether the actions of individuals respect the goal of the other people? If the answer is 'no' then the individual should not go for that action.

Kent’s theory is surrounded by the concept of “categorical imperative’. The term categorical imperative explores that an individual should deliver respect to others' humanity and also he should only react according to the rules that might hold for everybody. According to Kant, rational people are always surrounded by the moral law. So, whenever the question arrives that "what a person should do?" then the answer will be "he/she should act rationally by keeping the universal moral law in mind (OBOT, 2017).

Another impactful feature Kant's theory has is the extensive focus on duties. According to Kant's theory duties are of two types right or wrong. Right or wrong duties are different from good or bad duties. Kant had a belief that people's duties are resulting from the categorical imperative. Kant has established a difference between hypothetical and categorical imperative. According to the theory hypothetical imperative is the command subjective to an individual's demand or need. For example, "if a student wants to do well in his exam he has to study well". Kant has mentioned that if an individual does not have any want or need, then this hypothetical imperative cannot be applied (Krank, 2020). In the case study of American Tuna, the implementation of categorical imperative will be helpful. Through this the managers will act rationally with the workforce and the number of unethical activities will be significantly reduced.

By analyzing both of these theories it can be found herein business ethics assignmentthat the application of both of them for American Tuna Company is delivering similar results. Both of them are discouraging slavery and promoting ethical activities from the organizational people. These two theories of ethics are very important to understand where the company American Tuna is going wrong and why the existence of slavery in its supply chain is so intense. The managers of American Tuna need to implement ethical theories like these on their own and through that they will be able to address the issue which they might face in the near future.

Part 2
Considering myself in a manager's position I will try my best to implement and promote ethical values in my organization. I believe ethical practice can earn a competitive advantage for my business. In my opinion organizational ethics is the outcome of several leadership characteristics. These characteristics together make a business ethical. I have to mention eight different leadership characteristics that I would consider at the time of running by the business. Now, I am going to mention and explain each of those activities one by one. Justice: I will try to stay fair and provide justice to my team members in an unbiased way. Fairness in an organization is very important it helps in building effective relationship between the managers and the employees and reduces unethical practices significantly from the workplace. When it comes to justice I will try to give justice to my team members in an equal manner so that they do not experience any sort of discrimination from me.

Respect Others:It is evident in the business ethics assignment that respecting others whether senior or junior is an important skill to be performed for the purpose of making a business ethical. In my organization, as a manager, I will respect my juniors as much as possible. When I will provide respect to my team members it will automatically allow them to deliver me respect as well. This mutual respect will allow me in running my day to day operations smoothly. By providing respect to my team members I will be able to keep them motivated and dedicated towards their jobs.

Kindness: Kindness is another major characteristic which I love to pursue as an ethical manager. I know that kind leaders most of the time stay moral and ethical. I will always act in such a manner that will deliver benefits to my team members all the time. Focusing on building an efficient team: As a manager I will focus on building a team that will include efficient, ethical and understanding members. The probability of occurring unethical activities will be significantly low. On the other hand it will be very easy to promote my ethical values through the team members. Team building includes making and maintaining effective relationships with the team members and this leads to the existence of an ethical workplace.

Value Driven Decision Making: I come to know that effective decision making is a major characteristic that is largely important for becoming an ethical leader. I will make effective decisions that will drive my values to my team members as well as to the target customers. This value-driven decision making process will allow me to take correct and impactful decisions that will help me, my team members and the organization as a whole to perform ethically and to achieve competitive advantage over others. Encouraging Initiatives: In order to establish an ethical environment in my organization's workplace, I will always encourage my team members to deliver their ideas. I will try to maintain a democratic leadership approach with my team members so that I can engage them in all kinds of the decision-making process. This technique will allow me to attract different innovative opinions from my team members, and these ideas will able to solve different organizational problems in a collaborative manner. This transition will establish an ethical standard in the organization.

Zero Tolerance of Ethical Violation: This is one of the major considerations for me in terms of establishing an ethical standard in the workplace. Whenever I will experience any kind of unethical activity in my team, I will take serious steps against that and I will go to an extent where I can assure such kind of unethical activity will never happen again.

Apart from these eight areas outlined in the business ethics assignment, I will also consider some other aspects which will allow me to establish ethical standards in the workplace. First of all, I will clearly explain to my team members about what is right and what is wrong that they should maintain to work in this organization. Secondly, I will make a structure of desired behavior from my team members. This model will help them to understand how they should behave in the workplace. Thirdly, I will reinforce only those behaviors which I want my team members to pursue, and I will never reinforce those behaviors which I don't want my team members to pursue. Fourthly I will intensively focus on problem solving and skill building skills for my team members. This will help them to perform their duties ethically. I will also deliver tools that will allow and help the team members to perform ethically. In this way, I will establish ethical standards in my organization which will allow me to gain a good brand image and competitive advantage from the market. ?

Reference list
BC Campus, 2020. Ethical Decision-Making and Prioritizing Stakeholders. [online] Available at: https://opentextbc.ca/businessethicsopenstax/chapter/ethical-decision-making-and-prioritizing-stakeholders/ [Accessed 15 August 2020]

Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, 2020. Updating the Resource Centre Digital Platform. [online] Available at: https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/out-of-sight-modern-slavery-in-pacific-supply-chains-of-canned-tuna#:~:text=Tuna%20brands%20are%20failing%20to,to%20protect%20workers%20at%20sea.[Accessed 15 August 2020]

Egan-Wyer, C., Muhr, S.L., Pfeiffer, A. and Svensson, P., 2014. The ethics of the brand. Business ethics assignmentEphemera: Theory and Politics in Organization, 14(1), pp.1-11.

Ege, R. and Igersheim, H., 2010. Rawls's justice theory and its relations to the concept of merit goods. The European journal of the history of economic thought, 17(4), pp.1001-1030.

Gobry, P.E., 2015. Hey, Kids! Let's Take A Trip Behind The Veil of Ignorance![online] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/pascalemmanuelgobry/2015/01/06/hey-kids-lets-take-a-trip-behind-the-veil-of-ignorance/#544eb3751a34 [Accessed 15 August 2020]

Hart, C., 2019. Slavery policies ‘fig-leaf for abuse’ in tuna supply chains. [online] Available at: https://www.cips.org/supply-management/news/2019/june/slavery-policies-fig-leaf-for-abuse-in-tuna-supply-chains/ [Accessed 15 August 2020]

Hodal , K 2019. ‘Major tuna brands failing to tackle slavery in Pacific supply chains – report’ The Guardian [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/jun/03/major-tuna-brands-failing-tackle-slavery-pacific-supply-chains-report last accessed 07/10/19 [Accessed 15 August 2020]

Kain, P., & Sharma, S. (2014). Business ethics as competitive advantage for companies in the globalized era. Journal of Management Sciences and Technology, 3(1), 39-46.

Krank, J. 2020. KANTIAN DEONTOLOGY. [online] Available at: https://press.rebus.community/intro-to-phil-ethics/chapter/kantian-deontology/ [Accessed 15 August 2020]

Leschin-Hoar, C., 2018. ‘Was your seafood caught with slave labor? New database helps retialers combat abuse’ NPR Newsite Available at https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/02/01/582214032/was-your-seafood-caught-with-slave-labor-new-database-helps-retailers-combat-abu last accessed 08/10/19 [Accessed 15 August 2020]

Seattle Fish, 2018. American Tuna. [online] Available at: https://www.seattlefish.com/seafood-market/american-tuna-canned/#:~:text=American%20Tuna%20was%20formed%20by,buy%20directly%20from%20the%20source [Accessed 15 August 2020]

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