Although organization may appear to operate in a socially responsible way due to a commitment to the wider community; it is born of their self-interest rather than any truly genuine need to act in an ethical manner. Generally it is through a socially responsible manner of operating that businesses can achieve their own goals of profit and productivity maximization and promote a favorable public image. Monica Saha and Geoffrey Darnton in their article Green Companies or Green Con-panies:
Are Companies Really Green, or Are They Pretending to Be? define being socially responsible (in relation to the environment) a.k. a “being green” as “harmonizing corporate environmental performance with stakeholders’ expectations. This shows that rather than actively engaging in contributing to a safer environment organizations only go as far as they can to appease their stakeholders’ in an attempt to maximize profits and investment.
Organizations (especially Multi-National Corporations) have a profound influence in countries and communities in which they operate. Among a variety of ways in which there is opportunity for them to abuse the power that they have is through their marketing.
Kathrin Sele in her article Marketing Ethics in Emerging Markets – Coping with Ethical Dilemmas portrays multinational companies in an unfavorable light branding their activities (especially through marketing) in newly-developing markets as “immoral economic colonialism. ” An example of this is Nestli?? ‘s aggressive commercialization of their product ‘Nestle Pure Life’. In Pakistan “Nestle aggressively marketed their water ‘Pure Life’ by organizing seminars on water quality (wherein they did not appear as the organizer) shortly before launching the new product.
” This led to potential customers being misled by advertising that wrongfully did not reflect the conditions or the knowledge of the consumer. Due to situations like this arising there has been outrage from the public that has called for a stronger sense of responsibility among Multi-National Corporations. This particular example depicts organizations as exploitative giants who only care for their own profits rather than the welfare of the people of a nation. The actions of Nestle in this case show an organization that lacks corporate social responsibility and is devoid of any moral commitment to any wider community other than itself.
Organizations not only have marketed in an immoral manner before but as a way of promoting itself as environmentally conscientious beings. The need for organizations to achieve this initially arose out of (in the 1960’s &1970’s) “the Malthusian specter of human population outstripping food supply” which received much attention. This led to greater concern for the environment starting to develop with more interest being shown on such issues as global warming. As a result of this in the present “environmental and ecological issues…
now in the psyche of many politicians and decision makers, along with a robust set of related pressure groups. ” This means that organizations have to pay close attention to issues deemed worthy of such great importance by bodies that have significant influence over them. “The change from ecology to green was accompanied by a change in focus from environmentalism to sustainability. ” Due to this circumstance organizations should have been forced due to external pressures to consider environmental concerns more broadly and with a greater design in place than to be restricted to approaches that are considered piecemeal or minimalist.
However, although there may have been the factor of external pressures to consider “going green”; there have also been some benefits which are not born of an altruistic concern for the environment. This phenomenon may be termed as green marketing. This has defined as referring “to the advertising or promotion of products with environmental characteristics” or even just one. Taking green marketing to the next step where it has been described as “greenwashing. ” “This is where managers of so-called green companies only pay lip service to green issues without actually practicing them.
” When this takes place companies are maximizing the benefit of having their reputation linked with being concerned for the environment while saving capital on the actual investment into which it is needed (the environment). Therefore while the companies build a strong reputation with an emphasis on “being green” in its public image while saving costs that could be diverted elsewhere to maximize profits and investment. Organizations can also be divided in the way they interact in the capitalist market and the way it deals with administered transactions (e.g. the influence over employees and the community at large).
Joseph Heath (2007) discusses the problems of attempting to apply a moral framework to both diverse situations. The nature of the ruthless competitive behavior that is allowable in the operation of the free market (as there are “checks and balances built into the system of commercial exchange”) cannot be applied uniformly to administered transactions that would require a more deft touch as the “checks and balances are absent…and thus the institutional context calls for much greater exercise of moral constraint. ”
Due to the fact that organizations may not be able to find distinction between the ways that they must interact in both instances this will lead to a uniform code of morals being unjustly applied to both transactions in the market and administered transactions. From this stance it may appear that organizations are ill-informed to operate well by not being able to contrast between their market goals and their responsibility to others that they may affect.
However, it is still the responsibility of firms to act in a manner that befits one in a state of power not to abuse it and ultimately to be kept well-informed of best practices in which to operate. A way that organizations may be able to avoid such unfortunate circumstances arising is to have a deeper commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).