The ethics simulation game is designed to teach us how to make ethical decisions especially when the company is facing challenging times. Making ethical decisions is not an easy task when ones decision will possibly have a great impact on each of the company’s stakeholder, whether they are shareholders or customers, in different ways. In this simulation, the company in focus is G-BioSport which specializes in sports nutrition and supplements sells. This company has so many great core values but the one that really stood out for me was the Customer Focus one, which says that “We keep our customers in mind during all our actions”. As I went through this simulation as the Quality Manager of G-BioSport, I kept this core value and the standards designed in company’s Code of Ethics as listed in the Quality Management Internal vs. External Standards, in the forefront of my decision making. The first decision that had to be made was about a product already on the market that was contaminated; however, it only put a small percentage of users at a low risk. The question at hand is whether to warn and what information to provide to consumers about the contaminant?
Should we publish information broadly about increased risk for specific groups, offer to replace tainted products or refund purchase price? Before making these decisions one had to go through four different lenses and steps of the critical decision making process. These lenses included the Rights and Responsibility lens, the Results lens, the Relationship lens, and the Reputation lens. After narrowing the possibilities down to two solutions using the Rights and Responsibilities Lens, the choice was made to disseminate information about on increased risk and allow consumers to make informed choices. Since this particular product complied with FDA standards, I did not see any reason to recall the product from the market. I also examined how this decision would impact each stakeholder of the company from the shareholders, company Chief Executive to the customers. As I indicated in my memo to Carson Nelson, Chief Executive Officer, urging him to consider how each of us would like to be treated in a similar situation and to allow our consumers to make informed choice.
By providing information that allowed them to make informed choices, G-Bio Sport had fulfilled its duties and treated all consumers equally, and valued their autonomy. While there might be negative publicity risks involved by disclosing about product containment and can impact company’s bottom line, I believe that our duty to our customers must come first in this situation to continue maintaining public’s trust in our products. G-BioSport knew that giving out this information will not affect the majority of consumers, but we believe the need to be sensitive to those who will be affected, was very important. On a scale of 0 to 5, from low to high risk, my decision rated a 1 and decision quality was rated as “best”. This decision represented very low risk. Once the product had been sold to consumers, there is no way to entirely eliminate the possibility of a lawsuit. The goal at this point is to reduce the risk. Giving consumers information upon which to base informed choices about continued use of the product reduces both the risk of a lawsuit and the risk of adverse publicity. The second case addressed is whether to sell a product that does not meet U.S. safety requirements in a foreign market that has lower safety restrictions.
Due to the recent FDA Regulations Changes, our products affected by the GBS-F contaminant no longer meet official standards which meant that we might need to recall these products in the U.S. However, based on Paul Marconi’s international Market Analysis, we might have an opportunity to expand our sales in overseas. It turns out, standards for food and drug product vary widely from country to country in ways that provide some opportunities as well as challenges. In many places, the products can still be sold legally and safely. I decided distribution of our product at overseas as a viable option rather than disposal. Given the extremely low level of risk for the vast majority of users, I suggested exploring other countries where the standards will allow us to sell these products legally and in a safe manner. As long as we disclose all the possible risks to our international customers, they can make an informed decision based on that. The focus of this decision making process was guaranteeing basic liberties for the consumers. By using Relationships Lens and Reputation Lens, I decided to honor other countries’ rights to set safety standards for their own citizens and sell the product where foreign regulations permit.
On a scale of 0 to 5, from low to high risk, my decision rated a 1 and decision quality was rated as “best”. It represented very low risk for the company. Doing business entails risk. So long as the company sells the product at all, there is some risk of liability, even with a product that meets internal and external safety standards. Although an increasing number of countries have products liability laws to protect citizens, the rest of the world is still far less rigid than the U.S. Providing a warning label would likely reduce one’s risk of liability without increasing costs or reducing potential sales significantly. This decision making process through the simulation was very helpful for me. From evaluating the level of impact on the stakeholders to using different lenses and being clear of my role in the process taught me how to make ethical decisions. As Operations Manager for a non profit, I can use this process when I am making decisions about health and safety standards for our child care facilities and all the other aspects of my job.