Corporate Ethics / Responsibility Over Article

  • Length: 10 pages
  • Sources: 15
  • Subject: Business - Ethics
  • Type: Article
  • Paper: #37227900

Excerpt from Article :

This is highlighting the overall culture of unethical behavior inside BP. ("The Explosion at Texas City," 2006)

As the company, would engage in policy of denying their involvement of: responsibility and attribute the incident to employee error. This would tie up the proceedings for many years, allowing for them to maximize their profits (while being able to avoid the ethical challenges they were wrestling with). ("The Explosion at Texas City," 2006) as a result, these unethical views would have a dramatic impact upon the culture inside the organization itself. Where, mangers would often encourage employees to overlook safety and environmental regulations (in order to remain in line with the company's financial objectives). This meant that the odds increased dramatically, that the company would have an accident with: dire safety, economic and environmental consequences.

As a result, the Deepwater Horizon incident was the pinnacle of: the lack of investment and disregard surrounding the safety practices of their employees. At first, this well was considered to be an accomplishment of modern day engineering, with it reaching depths of 18 thousand feet (approximately 3 miles). However, during the process of drilling the well, the engineers from Transocean (the company responsible for the procedure) were placed under tremendous amounts of pressure from BP. What happened was, BP executives wanted to have the well operational as quickly as possible. This meant that they would encourage engineers to: push the safety limits and standards to the brink. At which point, inevitable delays would occur, as this caused the drilling bit to become jammed in the rock (forcing them to re drill the shaft of the well). This lead to: a delay and outrage at BP; as they felt that Transocean was not working productively. Once they were able to reach the oil reservoir is when BP continued with their focus on: making the well operational at any cost. This is problematic, because it meant that obvious safety devices and their underlying condition were overlooked. A good example of this can be seen with the blowout preventer. Simply put, the blowout preventer is designed to seal the well, in the event that methane gas is able to penetrate the drill pipe (leading to the surface). In the case of Deepwater Horizon, the blowout preventer was installed. Yet, during the test of the preventer, an employee flooded the shaft of pipe, causing the rubber seal (the annular) to be ruptured. Once this was discovered by the engineers of Transocean, BP executives would overlook this matter, as they felt that it was not a safety issue. Commenting about the situation the lead BP engineer on the project (Mike Williams) would say, "We discovered chunks of rubber in the drilling fluid. We thought it was important enough to gather this double handful of chunks of rubber and bring them into the driller shack. I recall asking the supervisor if this was out of the ordinary. And he says, 'Oh, it's no big deal. And I thought; how can it be not a big deal? There's chunks of our seal is now missing." ("Blowout," 2010) This is significant, because it shows how from the very beginning of this project, BP would seek to reduce their underlying costs as much as possible. Where, they would limit the total investment and time that is focused on adding to the expenses (such as: making sure that the blowout preventer functions properly). This culture of overlooking various ethical and moral issues would set the stage for a series of events that contributed to the accident. ("Blowout," 2010)

Once the well was operational, the lack of focus on safety would lead directly to the events on April 20th. As methane gas was quickly moving up the drill shaft to the platform. This had an impact upon the structure, as the volatile gas would build up and explode. At the same time, the lack of investment in back up communications, meant that engineers had trouble communicating with the blowout prevent and corporate executives. Commenting about the underlying causes of the accident Williams said, "The blowout preventer (BOP) that was supposed to protect us and keep us from the blowout obviously had failed. And now, the emergency disconnect to get us away from this fuel source has failed. We have no communications to the BOP." ("Blowout," 2010) This is significant, because it shows how the lack of ethics at BP, would mean that staff had no way of preventing the situation from becoming worse. Where, they could not control the blowout preventer and communicate with executives effectively. ("Blowout," 2010)

To make matters worse a number of the managers on the Deepwater Horizon were embracing the lack of ethics and morals inside the company itself. A good example of this can be seen with the calls to abandon the well from the captain. Where, he would place the lifeboats in the water and did not inform the rest of the crew about the order. Commenting about this situation Williams would say, "I saw one of the lifeboats in the water, and it's motoring away from the vessel. I looked at the captain and asked him. 'What's going on?' He said, 'I've given the order to abandon ship. They have left, without the captain and without knowing that they had everyone who survived all this onboard. I've been left now by two lifeboats. And I look at the captain and I said, 'What do we do now? By this time, the fire is not only on the derrick, it's starting to spread to the deck. At that point, there were several more, large, intense explosions." ("Blowout," 2010) This is troubling, because every Sunday the crew would practice procedures for abandoning the well (as required under the law). The fact that the captain and other managers were willing to leave people there is: an indication of the culture inside the organization itself. As a result, Williams was forced to jump 100 feet into the ocean (during the middle of the night). This is important, because it confirms how executives at BP, were only concerned about increasing their overall bottom line. ("Blowout," 2010)

When you step back and analyze these different events, it is clear that the lack of morals and ethics at BP had negative impact upon a host of incidents. At first, these events were often overlooked, as company executives would blame various accidents on: employee error and then drag their feet. Part of the reason for this, is because acknowledging any kind of blame or wrong doing could: open the company up to law suits and it would cost more money to make the required safety / environmental modifications. This forced executives to embrace a culture lacking in: ethics and moral responsibility (as they were only interested in increasing their bottom line at all costs). As result, this atmosphere would lead directly the incidents that occurred at the Deepwater Horizon on April 20th. At which point, the company could no longer ignore their ethical and moral responsibilities. This is because, the overall scope of the accident became so large, that there was no way that executives could engage in the tactics of the past (blaming others and delaying investigations).

The Lack of Ethics and Responsibility

The three different cases that were examined highlight how the majority of corporations, have a lack of ethics when it comes to: their image, safety and the environment. This is because these different factors can have an adverse impact upon their overall bottom line. In the case of McDonalds, the possible negative publicity that they were receiving from Greenpeace, would hurt their image as a safe, family orientated restaurant. At which point, executives would engage in tactics to: protect this image and their overall bottom line (even though they were true). This avenue was pursued, because the company felt that they could use the legal system to achieve this objective (despite the fact that the defendants were not being allowed due process of the law). What this shows, is how inside the company itself, managers were willing to protect their own interests no matter what, highlighting the lack of ethics and morals about the actions of their organization.

The case of Nestle Hydration shows similar issues as the McDonalds situation. Where, the company would use a lack of ethics, when trying to build water bottling plants in small towns. This is problematic, because it underscores how executives are trying to increase their overall bottom line, while ignoring the demands of the community (by not giving them a chance to debate the issue). Then, they were seeking out the personal financial records of those individuals opposed to the project. This is highlighting, how the lack of ethics at Nestle was taken to another level, by violating privacy laws, to obtain personal information about their opponents. As a result, this lack of ethics would force the company to abandon plans, to build the plant in the community.

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