The company’s practices reflect the standards discussed in the code of ethics
In a recent publication by HR. BLR Magazine, it was reported that Wal-Mart employees were awarded 78. 5 million$ dollars in back payments for over-time of which they were never compensated. The verdict was the result of a class action suite that involved more than 187,000 employees that worked for Wal-Mart between 1997 and 2006. The lead plaintiff, Dolores Hummel, said she regularly had to work during rest breaks and after store hours to meet work demands, and estimated that she worked between 8 and 12 unpaid hours each month during her 10 years of employment at Wal-Mart.
“One of Wal-Mart’s undisclosed secrets for its profitability is its creation and implementation of a system that encourages off-the-clock work for its hourly employees,” Hummel said in the lawsuit (October 16, 2006 HR. BLR). On top of the company implementing a unsaid work ethic to motivate its employees, it was reported in the same issue that Wal-Mart has been receiving much criticism for being open on Sundays. While similar retail super stores in other countries like France and Germany make a point to refrain from doing business on these days.
Despite their questionable practices pertaining to ethics, many corporations are now following the trend of adopting an ethical code. What is the organization’s culture? In their article Corporate Ethics Programs as Control Systems: Influences of Executive Commitment and Environmental Factors Gary R. Weaver, Linda Klebe Trevino and Philip L. Cochran study the new trend occurring with so many corporations applying codes of ethics to their business routines. In their report they reveal a large number of upcoming corporations that are spending more than $1 million a year on ethics departments and issues.
After analyzing the concept of the use of ethics codes in corporations, the key finding of their study is that the top managers delegate responsibility for ethics management to others (Weaver, Klebe, & Cochran, p. 155). This can be seen as the core cause of much of Wal-Mart’s problems with ethics. This is a complete neglect ethical issues. In the Case of Lowry and Williams, we see the CEO’s are using the code of ethics to regulate their employees but not adhering to the code themselves. This can be directly inferred as the culture of Wal-Mart, in the sense that the CEO’s follow a hypocritical doctrine that they only apply to their employees.
What has the company done especially well in the past concerning ethical practices? If nothing stands out, you should describe what they could or should do and/or what they’ve done particularly poorly. How could their practices be improved? In sum, Wal-Mart’s ethical code can not be condemned because it attempts to maintain some aspect of moral conduct among a vast number of global employees. In truth, Wal-Mart is an extremely large brand. A company that has now grown over 3,000 stores in the United States and over 1,000 internationally, it’s still growing.
The more the corporation expands, it becomes only more likely that there will be more controversy over their practice of ethics. As Klebe, Weaver, and Cochran found in their study, that the main cause of this problem has to do with a hypocritical moral ethic being practiced by the CEO’s. As Wal-Mart expands into the international super power that it is becoming, if they maintain their hypocritical use of ethical code, it is only a matter of time before the corporation self destructs.
Berry, Leonard L. and Seiders, Kathleen (1993). Growing through portfolio retailing. Marketing Management, 2(3), 8-31.Financial Times (FT), (2006), retrieved 5th Nov 2006 from www. ft. com Staff Writer. “Fortune 500. ” CNN/Fortune. April 16, 2007. Retrieved on July 15, 2007 http://money. cnn. com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2007/full_list/index. html Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Statement of Ethics. ” Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Statement of Ethics. Apr. 200. 17 July 2007 <http://members. aol. com/vtpa/wmethics. html>. Weaver, G. R. , Trevino, L. K. , & Cochran, P. L. (1999). Corporate ethics programs as control systems: Influences of executive commitment and environmental factors. Academy of Management Journal, 42(1), 41-57. .