"the time is always right to do what is right" (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
"The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings"
This paper presents a code of ethics for the Meadwestvaco (MWV) Specialty Chemicals Company. MWV produces activated carbon for use in beverages, sweetener, various food products, pharmaceuticals and chemical / gas/air environmental industries. Notwithstanding any particular product or service that a company may be known for, every company should have a code of ethics that provides guidelines for how employees, managers, executives and board members are expected to behave. This paper offers a code of ethics for MWV, along with other particulars that accompany the values and principles of MWV.
Among the considerations when an organization elects to create a code of ethics is to start with guiding principles. There must be respect for the dignity of all individuals. This includes the diverse nature of ethnicities within the organization but moreover, every person associated with MWV -- including vendors, suppliers, board members and employees -- should be respected for the dignity of their lives.
The cultural integrity and the psychological integrity of each individual (including custodians, part time auditors, freelance employees that serve at temporary assignments) should be respected as a basic tenet of operations. Respect for people in the organization means respecting their absolute right to exercise their right to individual consent. When the principle of respect for all persons is in place that can translate into good communication, honest dialogue, a free and open work culture that supervisors are proud to work with day in and day out.
Those persons that are vulnerable -- who may have diminished levels of competence or otherwise are lacking certain physical abilities -- should be given special protections against any kind of verbal, psychological or physical abuse or exploitation or discrimination. If there are any special actions or procedures that are needed to assure fairness for vulnerable persons, they must be put into place and all staff (through the Human Relations department) should be apprised of those protective measures.
The guiding principles for MWV should include corporate respect for the privacy and confidentiality of all employees. This part of the guiding principles format relates to human dignity but also to protections against any abuse of the privacy (online or in every day relationships) and confidentiality. Those principles should also include respect for workplace justice and inclusiveness; justice implies fairness, but in this case it also means that there must be "fair methods, standards, and procedures" when it comes to the distribution of benefits (Health Canada).
Purpose of the Code
The purpose of a code of ethics for any organization -- according to the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) -- is to provide employees or members of an organization with "guidelines of acceptable moral and ethical behavior" (Stone, 2000, p. 49). Not only does a professional organization or a corporation need to offer guidelines, the organization needs to be certain that all members / employees fully understand what each component of the code means and how it applies to all persons within the organization.
Every employee at MWV must be encouraged to actively promote "…and encourage the highest level of ethical and legal principles" each day at work and in private lives as well. The company can only strive for excellence if all its employees and managers "maintain and promote integrity, truthfulness and honor" in all instances (Stone, p. 50). Without a code of conduct, employees are basically drifting in a sea of undefined behaviors, with waves splashing over someone's rights because no life saver or emergency boat was there to keep the ethical boat afloat.
A code of conduct contains guidelines that all personnel must follow, and moreover, when incompetence or unethical behaviors are witnessed, those flaws must be reported because otherwise the code of conduct is just lip service and no one really respects it. In other words, if any one person is not on board with the ethical and moral values, then the code is not working.
MWV Core Values
Since the success of Meadwestvaco Specialty Chemicals as a global company has been realized in large part by the inclusion of smart, eager and talented individuals "…from diverse backgrounds," and in part by the "strong culture of inclusion" -- where every employee is valued "for their unique contribution to the team" -- there must be an insistence upon "leveraging this richness of ideas, backgrounds and perspectives" in order to continue to drive "innovation, business growth and productivity" (www.meadwestvaco.com).
Hence, the suggested values that our company should establish, hold dear, and continue to make commitments to, include: a) customer satisfaction (we must meet and exceed what customers need and expect); b) high standards (in our own behavior and in the products we bring into being); c) profitability (any successful business must avoid the red ink of fiscal mediocrity); d) trust (relationships our company establishes with customers, vendors, and other stakeholders must be based on trust); e) safety / clean environment (all employees have a right to work in a safe, clean environment); f) sharing (success should be shared from top to bottom; financial bonuses should be explained and practiced with transparency and fairness); g) initiative (teams and individuals are asked to show special initiative that may be above and beyond specific duties and responsibilities); h) qualifications (when smart, helpful contributions through knowledge and innovation are demonstrated, these acts call for promotional consideration based on valued qualifications put into action); i) citizenship and family (responsible corporate citizenship means that all employees protect the environment and lend a hand to those in need, including families that are struggling to be sustainable); and j) creativity (a creative person must be encouraged to make suggestions and contributions to the overall value of the company).
MWV Code of Business Conduct and Ethics
The MWV Code of Ethics should include the following: a) Compliance with all state and federal laws, and with community ordinances, and with the rules and guidelines set forward by MWV's Human Relations Department; b) Avoidance of any conflict of interest (when an employee's interest interferes with the best interests of MWV there is a conflict of interest; or when an employee has a personal relationship with a customer, or supplier, or competitor, and if in any way that relationship impairs the objectivity of the MWV employee, that is a conflict of interest); c) Harassment or discrimination of any kind (based on gender, ethnicity, religion or any other cultural or personal difference) is intolerable and unacceptable; d) Disclosure (It is expected that every employee, manager and executive officer will act with integrity, being honest and willing to disclose any potential violations of the MWV Code of Business Conduct); e) Accountability and Reporting (every employee must be accountable for the time worked, for the materials and tools given him or her to perform the functions for which he or she was hired); f) Corporate Opportunities (all employees and managers are strictly prohibited from taking -- or directing to a third party -- a business opportunity that is discovered through the use of corporate property, position or information; in other words using one's position at MWV for personal gain or for ultimate competition with MWV is unethical and unacceptable); g) Confidentiality (all employees including officers, executives, and temporary workers are entrusted with company information and may not share any company information that might be harmful to MWV or on the other hand helpful to a competitor if disclosed).
MWV Code of Business Conduct and Ethics -- The Environment
MWV insists on the best practices when it comes to protecting the environment. This company derives carbon from hardwood, and so there are a number of important environmental considerations vis-a-vis obtaining the raw materials and how that impacts the ecology and the global climate.
Any hazardous substances must be handled with professional competence and the applicable laws (federal, state, and local) must be enforced and respected. Safe working conditions are of paramount concern to the stakeholders and employees of MWV (and of MWV's suppliers) must never fear reprisals for reporting unsafe working conditions or poor management of the environment to managers.
All applicable state and federal laws regarding wastewater and solid waste emission, air emissions and other emissions with reflects (whether pharmaceutical, beverage, food or gas/air products) must be strictly adhered to. When permits are needed to carry out product development the appropriate manager must sign off on the completed permit.
Additional Core Values -- MWV Suppliers / Vendors
Meadwestvaco Specialties Chemicals has the right to make certain demands of vendors and suppliers. The MWV Supplier Code of Conduct is modeled on several organizations, including the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Social Accountability International (SAI), and Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI).
The rights of workers employed by MWV's suppliers are important to MWV because the dignity and respect all individuals deserve is a reflection of…