Charities in Determining the Moral Duties Term Paper

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In determining the moral duties and obligations of a successful business establishment, it is important to first define the concept of morality, both as it is understood in society and how it is understood in dictionary terms. Morals for example refer to standards of conduct in terms of society as a whole. These standards relate very much to the social concept of the good/bad dichotomy at any given moment in history. Hence, the concept of good, moral conduct today is the product of centuries of moral human evolution. In addition to social standards, good, moral conduct may also be driven by the demands of the individual's conscience and the individual sense of right or wrong. In short, moral principles are based upon the inner, psychological sense of obligation, right or wrong, and standard of conduct in terms of best benefiting both the individual and the social circle within which the individual lives.

In terms of corporate responsibility, the question is whether successful corporations have a moral duty to make charitable contributions on the basis of the concept of "giving something back" to the community. My belief is that they do.

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The reason for this answer is that businesses function within a community. This community and its buying habits is what determines the success or lack thereof within the business. If a business is successful, I believe it is obliged to the community that has helped to bring it success. One of the ways in which to achieve this is by contributing to charitable organizations. In this way, it creates a mutual benefit for itself and the community in which it functions.

Term Paper on Charities in Determining the Moral Duties and Assignment

Contributing to charities considerably enhances a company's image in the community. It could therefore be a valuable advertisement for the name of the company. Many charities offer businesses the opportunity to display company logos on their notice boards or other prominent locations within the charity building. Understanding that the company is concerned with more than just the bottom line may therefore encourage people from the community to indirectly benefit charities by supporting the business. In this way mutual benefits are derived by a collaboration with charities in terms of advertisement as well as in terms of enhancing company image in the mind of the community.

Another aspect of this is that the increased wealth of the middle-class community has led to more people caring for issues beyond their immediate concerns and needs Hence there has been a sharp increase in an interest in and concern for the less fortunate, and also for the environment such as fauna, flora and pollution issues. Contributing to charities can therefore also be a means to gain ground in this growing market.

This is the premise of the proponents of corporate responsibility. According to Edward Teach 2005, for example, Google search results demonstrate the growing popularity and prominence of corporate responsibility in the public mind. The term "Corporate Social Responsibility, for example, yields 4,680,000 search results with the Google engine, while "shareholder value" yields 2,340,000. These figures demonstrate the value that these concepts hold for consumers.

Indeed, the sense of social and moral obligation has driven consumers, nongovernmental organizations and investors to become increasingly conscious of charitable causes and issues. Companies are following suit by widely advertising their efforts to contribute to charitable organizations and in this way share their fortune with the community that supports them.

2) in the same way, successful, profitable corporations also have an ethical responsibility to make charitable contributions. Whereas morality relates to the larger, general community within which a corporation functions, ethics is a more specific concept, generally varying in form from business to business. The various forms of business ethics however do have in common that they are universally present in all sectors of the corporate world. Business ethics as a concept refers to the acceptable standards of conducting business in a certain sector of the corporate world. What this means is that there is a certain accepted moral standard of doing business, which is then referred to as a specific sector's business ethics. Part of business ethics has then also become contributing to charitable organizations and supporting environmental causes, while furthermore attempting to limit the damage to the environment brought about by the industry.

Often this is the result of social pressure. Wal-Mart is an example of this. Its unethical attitude towards laborers has been so criticized that the company was obliged to publicly change them. Other companies such as McDonald's and Starbucks have also taken measures to provide greater benefits to their consumers in terms of healthier choice, while investing in the environment in terms of selling only products from sustainable environments.

This, according to some, creates long-term wealth by leaving resources and wealth for future generations (Teach, 2005). This means that companies in the current business world create future wealth rather than exploiting and destroying current resources.

In this way, a legacy is left for future generations. This is an important paradigm in the world today, where the community is very much focused on the well-being of future generations. Neither society nor powerful business owners can ignore problems such as exploitation and extinction that are already affecting the world in their lifetimes.

As mentioned above, business ethics is part of a company's mission and vision. In being socially responsible, a company creates an image for itself as an entity caring for its environment and its world. On this basis then, I do believe that corporations cannot help but have an ethical responsibility to contribute to charitable organizations. Scandals such as the one created by Enron demonstrate this. Unethical behavior is very harmful for a company's corporate image.

The issue has become so important that legislation has also become part of creating standards for corporate responsibility. One entity responsible for such standards is the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) (Teach, 2005). This organization works to implement business ethics standardization programs such as the ISO 9000 standard for quality and the ISO 26000, which is due in 2008.

Whereas moral obligation therefore relates to the community within which a business functions, ethical obligations are related to rules and regulations of the business world. The ethical obligation to contribute to charities is therefore driven by the standard in the business world of other corporations doing the same thing. It is as it were a conformation to a set standard within a larger body of corporations. A business ethics decision is therefore influenced by the standards of the rest of the business world, and also the specific industry within which the organization functions. In this way, ethical obligation is an extension of moral obligation into the business world.

Businesses therefore have both a moral and ethical obligation to make contributions to charitable organizations.

Firstly, the reasons for this entail a responsibility to the society that helped bring about success. Secondly, honoring such obligations can mutually benefit both the business and the community within which it functions beyond the service or goods provided by the company. Thirdly, it provides valuable advertisement and a healthy image for the company.

3) of course it cannot be denied that the primary obligation of corporations in the business world is towards its shareholders, while its primary function is to accumulate wealth and thrive in the business world. Some therefore argue that Corporate Social Responsibility detracts rather than adds to the wealth that companies are obliged to create in this way, and that shareholders are disadvantaged as a result.

One of these critics is David Vogel (reviewed by Robert N. Stavins, 2006). According to Vogel, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that corporate responsibility in any way benefits a corporation financially. This view is in response to proponents who hold that corporate responsibility is indeed profitable in a greater sense than inner… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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