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Ethical behaviour in business Essay

In this task I will be explaining how my business (Ben and Jerry’s) could change or alter some of its practices and showing how these changes would contribute to improved ethical behaviour. The ethical issues I will be working on are CSR and trading fairly.

Corporate social responsibility: Businesses do not exist in isolation nor is it simply just to make money; a lot of factors come into play. Customers, suppliers and the local community are all affected by the business and its operations. Ben and Jerry’s products, and the way they produce them all have an impact on the environment. CSR is all about businesses understanding the effects that they have on the community/wider world. Businesses will use this impact in a positive way to benefit both their business and the wider world. CSR means that business such as Ben and Jerry’s will have to take responsible attitude, going beyond the minimum legal requirements (as being ethical is strictly something you don’t have to do by law) and following basic principles that apply. How Ben and Jerry’s are responsible to society?

Ben and Jerry’s take on corporate social responsibilities, taking action to achieve more desired goals to expand their business growth and also maintaining open line communication with employees to gain a better outcome. Ben and Jerry’s conduct various CSR activities, some of these include: Use of Fairtrade ingredients- Ben and Jerry’s first started using Fairtrade certified ingredients in 2005; they pledged in 2010 that by the end of 2013 they will go fully Fairtrade. Ben and Jerry’s work with dairy farmers and other farmers from third world countries, they source ingredients like cocoa, vanilla pods and various other ingredients. Fair Trade standards ensure that employees in these countries have good and safe working conditions, work reasonable hours and paid a fair amount for their work. Corporate Philanthropy- Corporate philanthropy in simple terms means a business’s care/love of humanity.

Ben and Jerry’s a portion of its pre-tax profits to corporate philanthropy in attempts to become more socially responsible. Corporate philanthropy is led by employees through the B&J’s foundation and community action teams. Ben and Jerry’s award 1.8 million dollars to a philanthropy (an organisation that helps communities and the welfare of others) every year in and around Vermont, where Ben and Jerry’s was initially set up. Engaging the Community through Community-based Projects- Another way in which Ben and Jerry’s is engaging in corporate responsibility to society is by setting up community –based development projects. The Vermont Dairy Farm Sustainability Project, which was launched by Ben & Jerry’s in 1999, set out to develop practical methods that could be used on day-to-day dairy operations to keep the water quality safe from nitrogen and phosphorus while not sacrificing the economic viability of the farm and making the farm a sustainable business.

How can Ben and Jerry’s change/alter corporate social responsibilities (listed above) to contribute even more to improved business ethical behaviour? Ben and Jerry’s do all they can to make sure that they are socially responsible to stakeholders. They have engaged in a wide variety of activities/projects to insure that they do what they claim to do and that is to be as responsible to the wider community as much as they can, this includes Fairtrade, good working conditions, humanitarian concerns and other key factors in making sure that the community is affected in a positive manner. There is no denying that Ben and Jerry’s are very successful in their business operations and also their responsibility toward the society. But there are instances where they can improve on certain things. First of all the business follow all ethical procedures from Sourcing ingredients fairly to protecting the environment to the best of their ability’s, but if you were to be picky Ben and Jerry’s are unethical in the sense that they are promoting unhealthy food.

Now to most people this will not seem like a huge deal, but because obesity levels are on the increase and campaigns have been set up to tackle obesity and unhealthy eating, it seems somewhat of a contradictory move by Ben and Jerry’s to promote and sell Ice cream. This is being very, very picky however as they, like mentioned earlier, they ensure various factors are done ethically. You can argue that their advertisements and marketing techniques do not in any way state the products are healthy, so it’s not that they are misleading people. Some people may say that all Ben and Jerry’s do is sell unhealthy, fattening, chocolate rich ice creams, which can be considered a bit unethical.

So in order to tackle this issue and make the company an even more ethically operating organisation, they can introduce healthier ice-cream or produce something alongside their standard ice-creams which is significantly healthier. They can use ingredients that are healthier/low fat and implement a recipe that is just as good if not better than the original. This would contribute to better ethical behaviour by Ben and Jerry’s because it allows them to give people concerned an option of purchasing healthy (healthier) ice-cream. This will also mean that they are somewhat promoting healthier eating as people will look at them and think highly of them as they are taking these obesity concerns into consideration and doing something about it.

Trading fairly:

Trading fairly is a movement which strives for fair treatment for farmers. In a fair trade agreement, farmers will negotiate with the purchasers in order to receive a fair price for their products. Farmers who engage in fair trade also aim to pay their workers a fair price, and engage in environmentally-friendly practices.

How Ben and Jerry’s trade fairly?

Ben and Jerry’s have multiple tasks/missions they conduct to ensure that their operations are done fairly. First of all they are using fair trade. Using the Fairtrade method means that farmers who supply the ingredients get a fair pay, working and living environment. Another way in which they trade fairly is that they give back to society. This may seem like it is not directly trading fairly but Ben and Jerry’s do give something back to society. What they do is that they “operate the company in a way that actively recognizes the central role that business plays in society by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life locally, nationally and internationally” ( Source Ben and Jerry’s website). So while they are producing high quality ingredients at the same time they are giving back to society locally, nationally and internationally. How can Ben and Jerry’s change/alter trading fairly (listed above) to contribute even more to improved business ethical behaviour? Like with the previous point I struggled to really find an area within Ben and Jerry’s that they need improving on so I had to be picky, the same goes for trading fairly.

Ben and Jerry’s seem to tick all the boxes when it comes to trading fairly; I mean they do everything from Fairtrade to providing the community that little something back. But If I were to be picky I think there is one thing that they might have to improve on ever so slightly and that is the marketing of the products. The criticism that I have for their marketing is that they have allegedly a couple of times offended customers with the names of their ice creams. Now this may not seem like it has nothing to do with trading fairly but it is. The reason as to why it is because customers are ultimately the ones keeping your business going, now if they were offended with the marketing techniques such as naming then they will be put off in the future. Although Ben and Jerry’s have admitted to using “cheeky names” on their ice creams they do not do this with the intention of offending people although they have mislead/offended a few.

Although they have now changed the names of those products and it was a one off incident they’ll be keen to make sure that this does not happen in the future. (The source where I found out about the names of products offending customers- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/19/hazed-and-confused_n_5845650.html) So in order to alter the trading of products Ben and Jerry’s can make sure that in future releases of new Ice cream they choose names carefully and make sure that they do not refer to anything in a bad light . Ben and Jerry’s are known for their innovative names but in order to prevent people from getting offended they can make sure they choose names that are simple in the sense that people won’t get offended. They will have to take into consideration various factors that could offend people and make sure that names that are obvious to offend people are not used and well away from the products they make.


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