Case study on business ethics and social responsibility

It is relatively easy to identify unethical business practices. For example, companies should not use child labour. They should not unlawfully use copyrighted materials and processes. They should not engage in bribery. However, it is not always easy to create similar hard-and-fast definitions of good ethical practice. A company must make a competitive return for its shareholders and treat its employees fairly.

Business ethics case study questions

A company also has wider responsibilities. It should minimise any harm to the environment and work in ways that do not damage the communities in which it operates.


This is known as corporate social responsibility. The law is the key starting point for any business. Most leading businesses also have their own statement of Business Principles which set out their core values and standards. A business should also follow relevant codes of practice that cover its sector. Many companies have created voluntary codes of practice that regulate practices in their industrial sector. These are often drawn up in consultation with governments, employees, local communities and other stakeholders.

Thus the Principles provide guidance on how both private and public security forces assigned to protect a mining operation or an oil and gas facility should be vetted, trained in human rights, monitored and controlled. Anglo American also aims to ensure that it plays a role in protecting the human rights of its employees and local people in countries in which it operates. The company supports the principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All companies need to make a profit.

Business ethics case study questions

Indeed a long-term business such as ours will only thrive if it also takes into account the needs of other stakeholders such as governments, employees, suppliers, communities and customers. An important process used by Anglo American is that of stakeholder engagement. This enables it better to understand the perspectives and priorities of external groups that are affected by its activities and to factor them into its decision-making processes. They use this toolbox to engage with stakeholders including community representatives. Sometimes communities have to be resettled, with government sanction, in order for important mineral deposits to be accessed.

This can cause controversy and divisions in the communities concerned. International best practice sets out a number of key stages in such a process including the need for structured consultation, fair compensation and the importance of restoring and enhancing the livelihoods of people in their new locations. These were undertaken with the support of the provincial government and local tribal leadership and after consultation with local people lasting for several years leading to agreement with each householder. New villages have been built with better houses and infrastructure and more land for farming.

The relocation programme was voluntary. Businesses have great potential to transform people's lives and to alleviate poverty through generating economic growth. They produce goods and services that customers want and they create jobs. Through paying taxes, they contribute to government revenue that can finance schools, hospitals and other public services.


However, a business must keep in tune with the wishes of the societies it serves or it runs the risk of alienating its shareholders, stakeholders and customers. This would be bad for business, reducing growth and potentially affecting profit.

Inspire Responsible Growth

Anglo American has to deal with many different levels of interest when setting up a new project. This includes, for example, the owners of the land and the people and services in the area. The current South African government has a policy of transferring a share of the ownership, management and benefits of the country's mining industry to people previously excluded from the economy.

Anglo American is backing the South African government in this process. This includes supporting black economic empowerment deals BEE. For example, Anglo American was instrumental in the creation of Exxaro.

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This is now the largest black-owned and managed mining company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Governments in the developing world face many challenging social and economic problems. They need companies that are ready to be part of the solution. Anglo American believes that it can support governments in reducing poverty and inequality and in improving health and welfare. It was the first major company in South Africa to announce that it would provide free anti-retroviral drugs to its HIV-positive employees. After running the programme for five years studies have shown that the programme has become self-financing through reducing deaths and the attendant loss of skills and cutting absenteeism rates by boosting the health of infected workers.

Much more than documents.

Most business activity incurs financial costs such as equipment and labour. Non-financial costs include noise and impact on the environment. There is a financial cost to acting ethically. To engage stakeholders takes time and money. Mining in ways that minimise environmental impacts is more expensive than extracting resources regardless of impact. An ethical business also recognises its responsibility for minimising the non-financial costs. You can start or join in a discussion here.

Visit emeraldpublishing. Abstract Purpose — This paper aims to offer a preliminary case study exploration of the corporate social responsibility issues being addressed and reported by the top ten global retailers.

Findings — The findings reveal that each of the retailers has its own approach to CSR and that there are substantial variations in the nature and the extent of reporting. Please note you might not have access to this content. You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account. If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form. Contact us. To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.

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