Unit 1: Making Marketing Value Decisions
Think Globally/Act Ethically
1. Any company doing business in the United States and abroad has a responsibility to be socially responsible. This responsibility is guided by business ethics ? basic values that guide a firm's behavior. These ethics come into all decisions made by businesses. Including what goes into the products, how they are advertised and sold, and how they are disposed of. Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is the largest corporation and private employer in the United States. Wal-Mart is consistently listed among America's most admired companies by Fortune magazine. At the same time, it is frequently the target of criticism for its employment practices and its effect on the larger economy and community. How should consumers evaluate these issues? Is it ethical to shop at Wal-Mart? (http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/ethicalperspectives/wal-mart.html)
Wal-Mart can both be seen as socially responsible and also unethical. Wal-Mart makes headlines almost everyday with stories of hiring illegal immigrants, gender discrimination, low wages, and pushing smaller stores out of business. This is only one side of the story, however. Passing along the gains of its brilliant distribution system to consumers, its farsighted managers have done nothing less than democratize the American dream. Its low prices are spurring productivity and helping win the fight against inflation. It is America's most admired company. (http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/ethicalperspectives/wal-mart.html)
According to Forbes magazine Wal-Mart, last year alone, gave $140 million to non-profit organizations. Also, Wal-Mart received the Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership that recognizes with outstanding achievement in employee and community relations.
2. Personally, I think that Wal-Mart does more harm then good. This giant in the retail market puts stores up anywhere it can. This makes it hard for local stores to make it because they can't offer the same low prices without taking a loss. I have a friend whose dad is a store manager at a grocery store in my hometown. Wal-Mart is building a Super Center in this town. My friend's dad had to decide whether to stay on a commission paid system or take salary. Needless to say my friend's dad, worried about the business doing well took salary and will take a huge pay cut. This is a personal experience. I know not every person will be affected in this way with Wal-Mart coming into town. Some people will even gain jobs and save a lot of money by shopping there. But, I don't think this is such a good thing. I think it is more important to help out the smaller businesses of the town then support a huge company.
3. Ethnocentrism is the tendency to prefer products or people of one's own culture. Ethnocentrism has affected Wal-Mart in entering foreign markets. Wal-Mart has had great success in Mexico, Canada, and Germany. With only 2 stores in Mexico in 1992, Wal-Mart has grown to over 640 in Mexico and 240 in Canada. In Germany many customers are used to "service with a snarl". These same customers enjoy the friendlier demeanor of Wal-Mart associates. (Marketing. Real People Real Choices. Page 96) Wal-Mart hasn't been without failure in foreign markets due to ethnocentrism. In Japan the multi-tiered distribution system, coupled with the vast product assortment that Japanese consumers demand, has made it difficult for to simplify the supply chain. (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/ce898984-b07f-11db-8a62-0000779e2340.html) Overall, I think Wal-Mart has been successful breaking into foreign markets even in with ethnocentrism.
4. (http://www.business-ethics.com/annual.htm#Gap%20Inc.) Gap Inc. has taken a step forward in making sure they don't run "sweat shops". In May 2004 Gap Inc. introduced a Social Responsibility Report, which examines how well factories are following Gap's vendor codes. This report includes health and safety infractions discovered by the company's Global Compliance Team. When a factory does not follow these codes the contract is pulled by the company. This is a huge step forward for trying to remove unsafe and unfair working conditions in factories in foreign countries.
5. I plan on getting into the Human Resource Management field. My field could be largely impacted by companies going more global. I am very interested in working with a company where I not only handle hiring procedures and benefits but also safety procedures. If the company I work for is in the global market I would have to know different safety procedures for domestic and international procedures. The procedures could very greatly because of different international laws. Also, depending on my responsibilities I could be responsible for hiring in these foreign markets. I would have a possible language barrier to deal with as well as matching the best candidate for the job. I would be very excited if I had to undertake all these aspects of a foreign market in my job.