1.) Tyson Foods Inc is a multinational company that is based in America, Springdale. Tyson Foods was established since 1935, by John W. Tyson. Now they are one of the largest suppliers of meats such as chicken, beef and pork in the world. (Vinjamuri, 2012) However back in 2004, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) did an undercover investigation in the slaughterhouse by working there, and they have encounter a rather disgusting act by the workers, which they have documented with a hidden camera. The workers abused them like soccer balls, kick them, threw them and smash them on the floor. Some of these workers were caught urinating to the animals in the live hanging area. (PETA, 2016)
Utilitarianism was classified by John Stuart Mill(1806- 1973), after he had redeveloped the book <Principles of Morals and Legislation> by Jeremy Bentham(1743- 1832). This ethical philosophy is defined as the greatest happiness for the greatest number, if the consequences lead to happiness of the greatest number then it is morally right, if it is unhappiness then it is morally wrong, regardless of the outcome of the actions. (Business Dictionary, n.d.) Tysons food for example, it should decide whether its happiness is for the company by being profitable, or for everyone to be happy by not mistreating the animals, or it could be the combination of both. However, in this case, they chose to just profit themselves, they just want to get their product out as low price as possible so they can be remained as the greatest meat supplier in the world, and it did not provide the happiness for everyone as they abusively mistreat their animals. Therefore, in the utilitarianism view, Tyson's food actions are being viewed as unethical. (Salazar, 2014)
Universalism is a universal right, everyone is entitled to their human rights. However, he or she cannot infringe others right. This moral ethic has one golden rule which is law of karma, which can be explained by if you do good, you will get good returns, do bad then will get bad returns. In Tyson's food situation, their undercover camera has caught the workers peeing to the live animals, what would customers think when they know they were eating meats that contains workers pee. This situation has infringed the customers right and therefore it is unacceptable and view as unethical in the universal human rights.
2.) American International Group(AIG) is an American company which provides insurance for business and individuals, back in 2008 the company was near to collapsing, due to overwhelming credit default swaps. (Kellogg Insight, 2015) The company then received bailout money from the federal reserve, to avoid AIG to going into bankruptcy. However, a shocking event occurred, the company funded vacations, hotels, private jets for the executives by using the tax payer bailout money. The company also paid millions to the top executives as bonus money.
The utilitarianism theory views the greatest good to the greatest number. Therefore, in AIG's case, it is either they spend all the bailout money on top executives to make themselves happy or to split the money among all stockholders and stakeholders such as investors, tax payers, employees and those who funded the bailout money to make everyone happy. However, the decision made by the company was selfish by funding the top executives only. Therefore, in the utilitarian view, it is viewed as unethical.
3.) Abercrombie and Fitch, also known as A&F, an American clothing brand that was established since 1892. At 2013, Chief Executive Officer Mike Jefferies made some insulting comments about fat people wearing their brand. He claimed that Abercrombie and Fitch does not sell women clothing size large so that they can prohibit fat people from wearing their company's clothing, and mentioned that their clothing is only worn by the cool good looking people. (Levinson, 2013) At this point, it causes a controversial issue around social media, everyone was upset at Mike Jefferies's inappropriate comments, unfortunately this issue had made consumers to stop shopping at A&F, and eventually lead to a drastic decrease in their clothing sales.
The utilitarianism theory plays a crucial role when it comes to business ethics. Utilitarianism defines the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. However, in this case Abercrombie and Fitch never once followed the rule of utilitarian, even before the inappropriate comments were made by Mike Jefferies. All the while Abercrombie and Fitch clothing company was always thought of a higher end prestige clothing store that only the well-off people can afford, reason to set the price high might be because the company didn't want to poor or average people to wear their clothing. Abercrombie and Fitch was never considerate about the benefit of the society, and was considered to be impolite and disrespectful after shaming fat and ugly people. They obviously did not create happiness for the greater number of people, and by not following the utilitarian rule, they suffered a huge loss. (Salazar, 2014)
4.) Phillip Morris International(PMI) is a tobacco company, which had sold its products in 180 countries. They are known for products such as Marlboro, Chesterfield, L&M etc. At 2012, reports issued by the Campaign for Tobacco- Free Kids and other public health organizations claimed that Philip Morris International is encouraging Marlboro to teens by promoting marketing campaign ‘Be Marlboro'. (Campaign for Tobacco free kids, 2014) The campaign shows themes and images of freedom, travel, risk taking and love of teens to take up smoking. E.g. of one of the campaign “Don't be a maybe, BE MARLBORO”. (Gayle, 2014) However, Philip Morris International denied that it was market to kids, but market to adult smokers only.
Utilitarianism defines the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. Towards this case for Philip Morris, a lot of the teens out there are lost and looking for a direction of their own, they want to be popular, they want to be cool, they want to fit in. The Marlboro Ad shows images of teens, having fun, laughing, dancing, achieving their goals which may be the sense of direction for kids out there. At the end of the ad, it stated ‘Don't be a maybe, BE MARLBORO'. When teens see they immediately think that smoking Marlboro cigarettes can bring them the happiness and sense of achievement they want. Therefore, under the utilitarian view, this is considered ethical. (Salazar, 2015)
5.) Wells Fargo is an American international financial institution that is based in San Francisco, founded in March 18th, 1852. Wells Fargo also owns 11 museums known as the Wells Fargo History Museum. Wells Fargo was the world's largest bank by market capitalization until it was surpassed by JP Morgan in September 2016 due to the Wells Fargo fake bank account scandal. In May 6th of 2015, A lawsuit was filed against 8 employees of Wells Fargo for committing bank fraud. 8 employees were caught forging customer's signatures, accessing customer's personal information and creating fake ID's so they can use it to make new accounts, without the customer knowing. They also transfer all authorized customers account money to unauthorized account so that they can charge customers with more account fees. The employees were force by the higher management to do what it takes to hit their target sales.
Utilitarianism theory states that no matter what, if the outcome brings happiness to a greater number of people, then these actions are considered ethical. For Well Fargo's case, it is considered as unethical as all the customers, employees, and shareholders were all unhappy with the situation. Customers were unhappy with making unnecessary payments because money were stolen by their own bank. The 8 employees were force to hit their sales target, and if not they will get fired by the company. Shareholders then had to fought out money to pay back all the customers for each fraud account the employees committed. (Salazar, 2015)
6.) Mcdonald's till now, is still considered one of the biggest distributers for toys. Back in the days when happy meal was invented, a lot of kids would always want their parents to buy it because a toy is always included in each meal. (Salazar, 2013) However, in 2010, McDonald's were sued for “Too good” of a marketing to these kids, a parent that sued McDonalds claimed that their marketing scheme for happy meals had invaded their children's mind, they would nag and cry badly just to get it.
According to the utilitarianism theory, McDonald's act is ethical. Shareholders and stakeholders are happy, considering they had made so many sales from happy meals due to good marketing, kids and parents are happy too, as the kids are able to get the toys they want and parents are able to entertain their kids with the toy when they are busy. Hence, when everyone is happy, it is ethical. (Salazar, 2013)
7.) Chick- Fil- A is a chicken restaurant located in the U.S., it was established in 1946 by Truett Cathy under the name of Dwarf Grill restaurant, until he rebranded the name to Chick-Fil-A in 1967. The controversy started when the president of Chick-Fil-A Dan Cathy landed a homophobic remark on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community, (Sieczkowski, 2014)and claimed that he had always supported the Anti- Gay community. The Cathy family has strong Christian beliefs, who's corporate mission is to “glorify God”. (Mikkelson, 2012)
Utilitarianism theory, one of the main ethical theories to be used to evaluate business ethics, defines as the greatest good to the greatest number of people. Hence, an ethical action is the one that creates maximum happiness to the greatest number of people. However, in this case due to Dan Cathy's publicity statement about the LGBT community, which had led to multiple restaurants outlets closing, employees and customers boycotting the company, which eventually lead to lower sales for the company, this will also affect the shareholders of the company. (Salazar, 2013) Don Cathy of Chick-Fil-A did not provide happiness towards his employees, customers nor his shareholders, and that is against the utilitarian view. Therefore, his action is unethical.
8.) L'Oreal is a French cosmetics brand which has been around since the year 1919, founded by Eugene Schueller, a French chemist. On May 13th, 2014 A customer filed a lawsuit against the cosmetic giant for false advertising on eyelash growth product. (Siegal, 2014) The advertisement has exaggerated the effect on how the mascara can beautify natural eyelashes and making it appear 60% longer, which happened to be misleading as the model in the advertisement was wearing cosmetic eyelashes. (Gibson, 2007)
A utilitarian sees maximum happiness of the people to be ethical. However, L'Oreal advertised products that are misleading towards their customers, which led to customers filling a lawsuit against L'Oreal, this will also affect the growth of the company, that is their shareholders. Hence, consumers were unhappy because they were tricked by how the product they use did not live up to their expectation as the advertisement shows. Shareholders will be losing money as facing the lawsuit. Therefore, L'Oreal's action is unethical.
9.) Ringling Brother's circus is one of the longest circus on the planet, established since 1884 by 7 brothers. Their recent animal abuse scandal has cause an uproar towards animal lovers, one gruesome case about a baby Asian elephant, who died after 3 acts without proper care, this led to lawsuits from People of the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). (Johnson, 2009) However, Ringling Brothers parent company Feld entertainment denied mistreating their animals and claims that these are false rumors. But due to the consistent supports from the animal rights group, it has finally triggered a public pressure on the Ringling Brothers and let to an end on the elephant acts in 2015 and closing all shows in May 7th, 2017.
The closing of the Ringling Brothers circus would be view as ethical for the utilitarian view, as said Utilitarian sees happiness to the greatest number of people as ethical. (Salazar, 2017) We must not only understand the welfare of humans, but animals also. Animals are like humans, they can feel, they have emotions, there is no way they are happy living there while being abuse. The supportive members of the animal rights group are glad too. Therefore, the closing of the Ringling Brothers deemed to be ethical due to maximum happiness of the larger number of people and the animals.
...(download the rest of the essay above)