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Key cases of corporate ethics in the workplace

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Merck.
    1. Mission.
    2. Ethics/Diversity.
    3. Communications.
  3. Coca-Cola.
    1. Mission.
    2. Ethics/Diversity.
    3. Communications.
  4. Environmental Resource Management Workplace Observation.
    1. Mission.
    2. Ethics/Diversity.
    3. Communications.
  5. SprintNextel.
    1. Mission.
    2. Ethics/Diversity.
    3. Communication.
  6. Conclusions.

Organizational leadership requires an understanding of organizational goals, the ability to reach these goals without violating the law or ethical standards, and the ability to communicate these goals to employees and the public. The issue of diversity is also important as it relates to ethics (e.g., discrimination) and to communication (e.g., different cultures may have different communication styles). The firms discussed below run the gamut from Coca-Cola, one of the most widely known companies in the world, to SprintNextel, which makes communication not only its practice but its business. Mission statements range from the provision of healthcare to explicitly claiming that the mission is to increase value for shareholders, which is naturally a mission of any for-profit business. Indeed, it has been argued that the profit motive and ethical conduct may be contradictory, and that firms need have no social conscience outside of those actions which are illegal, except to profit.

[...] What we are seeing is the establishment of communication networks that allows information to flow in all directions: from top to bottom (orders and management), from bottom to top the ground" information used to make decisions) and internal to external (communications with the public, public relations). A major difference may come down to ethics. Merck recently landed in hot water due to Vioxx, but of course pharmaceuticals are far more heavily regulated than, for example, soft drinks. The ethical line that Merck has to follow is thus narrower than those of the other firms. [...]

[...] Furthermore, leaders of the company try to have an effective communication system in place. For instance, managers have weekly meeting where they discuss any changes that will take place in the future. As the result, all employees are encouraged by the management team to share any uncertainty, confusion or concerns to prevent any conflicts from arising in the future. Moreover, the industry offers convenient communication services to consumers as well as business customers. Now, subscribers can use their wireless connection card on their laptop on the go. [...]

[...] Merck had good intentions of notifying the public, however, decided that it would be in their best interest to ignore the new reports and keep the shareholders happy. In the end, Merck's reputation was tarnished because the truth was publicized. This messy drug recall also resulted in a speedy resignation of Merck's former CEO Ray Gilmartin. In hindsight, Gilmartin's decision to ignore new reports for Vioxx was not the proper ethical procedure to follow. Merck differentiates its organizational customs between management through the strategy of corporate governance. [...]

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