The gender balance group was given a case study into Tata’s contribution to ethical business practices and sustainability to investigate into. The ten (10) member group shared the research questions amongst themselves for effective and efficient exercise. The group researched into the general view of ethical business practices as behavioral moral values and principles that determine our conducts in the business world. It went deeper to expanciate that, this ethics is applied in various aspect of the business’ “life”. These include: production process, employees, customers, shareholders, the government and business competitors. The enforcement of this practice goes beyond the provision of code of corporate ethics.
Considering both the public and business perspective of sustainability which goes beyond corporate responsibility to the environmental impact of a business’ operations, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) provides an accurate tool for analyses than carbon footprint of the user phase. This actually takes the true environmental impact of the product from the ‘cradle to the grave’ into consideration. Though this process may be quiet cumbersome, both the business and the environment enjoy a great deal of benefits. Tata contribution towards ethical and sustainable practices is evident in all its activities. It has been able use LCA to produce light metals for the production of cars thereby reducing the amount of CO2 emission.
Steel is a product that is widely used in almost every area of our modern life. It plays a key role in the world’s infrastructure. Tata Steel first established in India is the second largest steel manufacturing industry in the Europe. Its steel products are widely used in the construction industry, aerospace, rail, packaging etc. Tata Steel’s case study into its ethical and sustainability practice was to be addressed by our group – GROUP 27. The group began a series of meetings immediately after its formation. In other to ensure efficient and timely exercise, different tasks were assigned to members and the group leader was unanimously nominated. The questions involved were segmented and given to each member to research on.
Data was then collated from various sources and sent the central pull for the preparation of slides and for subsequent presentation on the stipulated date. This report seeks to establish the sources of information for Tata’s ethical and sustainability practices. Key theoretical issues concerning ethical and how a business could use sustainability practice to compete was also given attention to. Since the research was conducted by a group, individuals’ contribution was assessed towards the works completion. Further, my personal observation in relation to the assignment and the knowledge gained were brought to bear. Conclusion from the study was then drawn to evaluate the success or otherwise of the whole exercise.
Sources of Information
The information gathered was from two main sources – books and the internet. Much information was gathered from Tata’s website which gave me much insight into the research. This actually provided me with Tata’s history, competitors, huge Corporate Social Responsibilities, business ethics and core values among others. Other websites gave me the information about a holistic view of business ethics and Life Cycle Assessment as well. In addition a couple of reading materials including books and journals augmented to the profound knowledge of the general view of ethical behavior and sustainability.
The research questions ware sub- divided into smaller fragments and each member was assigned a question to research on. Personally I contributed to answering the question of ethical business practices. George Chryssides and John Kaler gave their view as to why businesses should adopt ethical business practices. Materials obtained from the internet suggested that business ethics is applied in all areas of the business including production processes, human resource, shareholders, the community, the government and customers alike.
I went further to elaborate on some unethical business practices and what organisations can to do for its enforcement. This gave us much insight to ethical business practices. The outcome was warmly received by members and they profoundly understood the concept and how it was even related to Tata Steel. I was nominated to lead the presentation and the design of the sequence of actions that was to be followed during the presentation was part of my responsibility. On my part, I was to explain what business ethics was, what unethical business practice was and how it could be enforced in an organisation.
The main objective of the research was to understand business ethical practices, how sustainability could help a business to compete and how Tata Steel had contributed towards such acts. While the objective of any business is to make profits, it should contribute towards the interest of the society by ensuring fair practices. This in effect improve cooperate social responsibility, increase consumer confidence and protect brand values in other to gain competitive advantage. Theoretically, issues concerning ethical business practice and sustainability with particular attention to LCA were of great concern to the research. Ethical business practices are standard behavior of moral values and principles that determine business’ conduct in the business world.
Ethical practice takes care of the investor. It is to ensure that the dividends payable to the investor is in safe hands and in good time. Production methods should be environmentally sustainable and everybody involved either directly or indirectly is unduly harmed. Also, it takes into account the health and safety as well as the value of the human capital. Sustainability practice of an organization focuses on the balance between the maximizing shareholders value, honouring the environmental and social responsibilities.
For Tata Steel, its sustainability naturally follows its core value of ethics. In all this areas of the challenge, the environmental responsibility happens to be of great concern due to its relationship with the Carbon Footprint. However, findings revealed that LCA provides a more powerful tool to tackling CO2 emission including all phases from production to disposal of material. Even though a holistic LCA is data intensive and time consuming procedure, it enormous benefit ranges from a safer environmental impact, the financial benefit through the knowledge of the resale value at each stage of products life and helps business to gain completive advantage.
From Tata’s case study it was agreed that whereas some businesses do not take ethical issues seriously, Tata steel could be one of the best companies who efficiently and effectively practice business ethics and sustainability. A critical evaluation revealed that the company’s ethical business practice and sustainability is far big thing to write home about. This can be seen in the company’s integrity, understanding of its stakeholders, excellence in business operations, force of unity among employees and corporate responsibility delivered to the society.
After researching into the ethical business practices and sustainability using the case study of Tata Steel, some observations were made in relation to the group assignment. Ethical business practices and sustainability has a wider view than I anticipated and has rather broad importance to the business and the society at large. Considering ethical business practices, it was observed that the business has a rather big responsibility to all its stakeholders. It was astonishing to notice that this responsibility is discharged to all those who are directly or indirectly affected by the business. It is somewhat a herculean task for businesses to take care of all its stake holders while maximising shareholders value.
However the business enjoys enormous benefits in return of their good deeds. In the light of sustainability, the broader spectrum of LCA was noticed. Though LCA suffers some amount of criticism, a greater number of businesses find it very useful for itself and the environment as well. From Tata’s case study, it became evident that much importance is attached to the whole life cycle than just carbon footprint On a whole, ethical behavior and sustainability in Business operations promote trust and confidence to the consumers and the society in which it operates. These go to promote a good business environment for growth and development opportunities for the company.
The assignments brought a number of issues to my knowledge. These came from practical activities we undertook and the academic research we embarked on. Practically the effectiveness of division of labour was the first practical knowledge I uncounted. When members were assigned specific task for the presentation, it was surprising to notice that each and every one did what is expected of them making it easier for our preparation. As a team leader, I realised it was always helpful to be a good listener to acknowledge the views of others before making necessary suggestions.
This was very crucial since the group encompasses members from different nationals and cultural backgrounds. In the academic wise, the research made me realise that ethical business practice and sustainability go a long way to benefit all the stakeholders involved. In most businesses, the sustainability practice naturally follows its ethical practices. My attention has totally shifted from carbon footprint to the direction of Life Cycle Assessment due to its immense benefits. This powerful tool (where a products environmental impact is assessed considering all the stages of a products life from cradle- to- grave) when implemented by all businesses could contribute immensely to win the war against the climatic change.
Impact of Individual Contribution
Every member contributed positively to the success of the work. As a group leader, I managed to successfully chair all meetings and made sure specific tasks were timely met. I was to address the issue of ethical business practices. Since I played the leading role in the presentation, the team’s expectation for a good start was met and that encourage the rest of the presentation team to follow suite. The data collection manager successfully gathered all data for the slide preparation.
During the presentation, the following action points emanated from my individual contribution:
1. Definition of ethical business practices
2. Areas of ethical business practices
3. Examples of unethical business practices
4. Enforcement of ethical practices
Though the exercise could not be said to enjoy 100% success, one cannot say that it was a failure. The exercise was a bit challenging to the group. Deciding on the times and venue for the various meetings for instance was not easy to be agreed upon. For most instances meetings were held 45mins later than the agreed time. This however did not demoralised us from pursuing our course and we were able to complete the task on time.
The effectiveness of our communication tool kept us on our toes and ‘data collection gateway’ was a good thing to wright home about. Text messages, emails and phone calls were put to effective use. Furthermore, every member of the group had an in-depth knowledge of ethical practice and sustainability from the various discussions held. We have learnt how to work together as a team and most importantly how to tolerate others. I personally have profound knowledge of Tata Steel Group’s, ethical practices, sustainability and it’s cooperate social responsibilities.
Chryssides, G.D and Kaler, J.H, Introduction to Business Ethics, Chapman and Hall, London, 1993. Fisher C., Lovel A. (2009). Business Ethics and Values. 3rd ed. England. Pearson Education Limited. 9-17, 338-359 Shaw W.H. Berry V. (2010). Moral Issues in Business11th ed. USA. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. 370-380 http://www.stonecourses.net/environment/benelca.html