Ethics and Company
1. What would you think were the root causes for Chiquita’s actions in Columbia that ultimately led to its conviction? The Chiquita Company was accused of sponsoring the terrorist organizations named AUC. The company annually paid AUC a huge amount of money. Finally, this huge amount of power was transferred to the weapons being used by the terrorists to kill innocent civilians. It was highly unethical because any payment to the terrorists would be regarded as sponsoring the terrorists. Additionally, the company was claiming the purpose of making such a payment was to protect the employees from being kidnapped and killed. However, it could never be the only reason. The other reasons could be ensuring the monopoly power within Colombia banana industry and ensuring the huge profits from the monopoly. Chiquita imported the most bananas from Columbia, losing the monopoly position in the country could decrease the profit of the company dramatically. What’s more, although the company did inquire the government of whether to stop paying AUC, it was not the excuse of the Chiquita Company of continue paying such fees. Even though the government did not provide a clear attitude, the company should not continue to do that. 2. As Chiquita’s representative, explain why/how Chiquita’s actions in Columbia were legally and/or ethically responsible. Please draw on relevant ethical principles to develop and strengthen your arguments. As the Chiquita’s representative, I would say the main policy of the company was to protect all the employees in the unstable situation. Since we built the Columbia branch, the anti-government army and terrorists kidnapped and killed many employees.
The only way of maintaining the operation within such an unstable society and protecting the employees at the same time was compromising. Ignoring the personal safety of employees would be highly unethical. It was the fundamental morality of a company. In addition, we have formally asked the U.S government about the current situation of the company. The answer should be yes in any condition; however, they never confirmed that. So under such circumstance, we did not break the law. We definitely and positively showed our attitude against the terrorism. Chiquita should not be regarded as murderer of innocence civilians. 3. What could Chiquita have done to avoid having “blood on their hands” in regards to banana production and distribution? Please draw on relevant principles of ethical reasoning to develop and strengthen your response. Firstly, one of the fundamental moral standards of the company is considering its social responsibility. Apparently, within this case, the company made that seemingly unethical decision based on the benefit of its own and partly based on the safety of its employees. However, they neglected one of the most important factors in the process of making such an inappropriate decision. It was the social responsibility.
Within the case, the social responsibility is anti-terrorism. In order to realize it, the company should stop the payment immediately. However, considering the safety of the employees, Chiquita should create a safer working circumstance or a quick-response escaping system to help the employees avoid being captured. In addition, the company could choose the neighboring countries, such as Brazil, as the basement of its banana empire, though the cost of planting and distributing bananas in Brazil might be higher than it is in Columbia. Secondly, within the case, it was said that the company continued to pay for the protection fee after the AUC was defined as the terrorists. It would never be acceptable. The company should have analyzed the risk of continue paying such a totally unethical protection fees and made a sophisticated decision toward the position.