Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chapter 3: Ethics and Social Responsibility

In most companies, part-time employees are less valued as workers, or maybe more valued from the view of management of the company in the sense where they can be let go quicker without the usual repercussions of a general layoff to a full-timer.  Also, part-timers generally don't have the same benefits as full-time employees have.  Starbucks doesn't follow this standard, which is rare for a company (Costco is a noticeable exception as well).  Most companies increase the hiring of part-time employees, or contingent workers, since they are payed less and because of the previous reasons stated.  This can be viewed as an ethical problem or issue within a company because then the workers may feel it's immoral and they feel under appreciated compared to a full-timer.

As Howard Schultz (CEO) grew Starbucks, he vowed to build "the kind of company my father never got a chance to work for."  When Schultz was just a child, his father had broken his ankle and was out of the job without any health insurance.  This was a fear his family had to face.  His basis on how he now leads the company is from this story and makes Starbucks a more ethical place to work for.  He cares for his employees.  Schultz is a leader in offering comprehensive benefits for part-time workers and this has been central to Starbucks' success.  There is a downside to this aspect of Schultz's moral view though.  The Starbucks Corporation has been seeing double-digit increases in health costs.  Schultz feels that the trouble goes beyond spending.  "We can't be the kind of society we aspire to be when we have 50 million people uninsured.  It is a blemish on what it means to be an American," Schultz says.  He then reached out to Jim Sinegal, CEO of Costco who also gives benefits to part-time employees, to seek advice for what to do if numbers keep increasing in health benefits but not in correlation to profits.  Schultz feels taking away the benefits is not an option and he will do what he can to keep his commitment to his employees. 

In contrast to the USA, 36 other countries where Starbucks operates, health care is basically funded by the government rather than the company itself.  Schultz has gone to Washington but came back discouraged and his next idea was to bring together a meeting for the CNBC to raise awareness of the issue, but it was put off.  With this information and the difference the US has compared to other countries, we lie with the question: should the US follow in the footsteps of many countries where they offer health care from the government rather than the company themselves?

The story of CEO Howard Schultz is an example of an ethical and moral workplace.  All companies should follow a code of ethics, which is a guideline to help marketing managers and other employees make better decisions.  There are law enforcement agencies, such as EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), which guarantees employment for all races, genders, backgrounds, etc.  If a company was to not state they are a EEO company, there would be big ethical problems and it would cause investigations into that particular company.  Starbucks makes their employees happy to work for them, part-time as well as full-time.

Starbucks Business Ethics and Compliance

Starbucks - Environmental Responsibility

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