Personal and Organizational Ethics and Values Between Case Study

Excerpt from Case Study :

Personal and Organizational Ethics and Values between for-Profit and Not-For-Profit Organizations

For-profit and not-for-profit companies often operate very differently from one another. Here this will be shown with a comparison between the American Red Cross (a not-for-profit company) and the Coca-Cola Company (a for-profit company). The background of each one of them will be addressed, and they proposed solutions and recommendations will be discussed. Each company has its problems, whether it is for-profit or not, but there are unique problems faced by each kind of company. The differences in whether they are for-profit or not-for-profit can have a significant effect on the companies themselves and whether they are able to continue being successful or whether they must make changes in order to see growth and development in the future.

Case Study Analysis of Personal and Organizational Ethics and Values between For-Profit and Not-for-Profit Organizations:

The Red Cross and Coca-Cola

Introduction

Understanding the differences between for-profit companies and not-for-profit companies is important. One area in which they differ is ethics. It would seem logical that all companies would have high ethical standards, but that is not always the case. Even the "best" companies can sometimes suffer ethical failures or have other issues related to the way they treat customers and employees. Sometimes these are deliberate, but they are often just a product of carelessness, misunderstandings, or a company that simply grew too big too quickly to be able to address all of its issues. Discussed here will be the American Red Cross (a not-for-profit company) and the Coca-Cola Company (a for-profit company). The goal is to examine the background of both of these companies in an effort to discover where ethical dilemmas lie and how they could be corrected. Both companies are obviously successful, but at what price? Are they both operating ethically?

That is a question that needs to be answered. At the same time, there is another concern: how do these companies define ethics and are those definitions in line with the way in which other companies and individuals define ethics? If they are in line with other ethical ideals that would seem like a good thing - provided the ethical code was actually being followed. However, some companies may have ethical codes that are not considered to be "standard" or that they word in ways that may not be acceptable to other companies or individuals. Discovering these companies and these problems is very beneficial to society, because that allows a decision to be made as to whether these companies should continue to be given business. It also helps others decide if they want to work with them, donate to them, or otherwise have interaction with them. While some people will not care either way, many people are affected by (and concerned with) the ethics of the companies with which they do business.

Background

The American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is a not-for-profit company. It was first established in Washington, D.C. In May of 1881 (Bennett, 2005). Clara Barton was the founder and she was the first person to be president of the organization. In 1905, the Red Cross came under congressional charter so that it could provide services to the U.S. when needed (Hutchinson, 1997). That made it truly a humanitarian organization, and the only one that was viewed as a company which would help the United States when problems with its citizenry occurred. Before the Red Cross was founded, Clara Barton worked as a federal bureaucrat and also as a teacher. She went to France on vacation, but while she was there she started working with the International Red Cross (Boissier, 1985). This happened during the Franco-Prussian war.

Because of the work she did in France, she decided that she would bring the mission of the Red Cross to the U.S., where it could help even more people. There are now more than 1000 Red Cross chapters in the United States, operated by a board of directors made up completely of volunteers. They oversee all of the activities of the Red Cross and enforce the ethical standards held by the organization. Those standards are to be kept in line with the norms in the community in which the Red Cross is operating, and also to be kept in line with the code of ethics the Red Cross has created for itself. There have been obstacles in the past for the Red Cross, however, that have left some people in the United States untrusting of the organization and its true commitment to others.

One such past event was the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The Red Cross immediately began urging people to give blood and to give money. Many people did, but none of it was actually needed (Forsythe, 2005). When that came to light, some people felt as though they had been betrayed and that they had donated their time and money for something completely unnecessary. It was a frustrating time for many Americans in the wake of such a tragic disaster. They did not need or want to feel as though an organization that was supposed to be helping people may have been asking for more than its fair share. Unfortunately, that was not the only concern for the organization, and not the only past reason why people in the United States have started to become mistrustful of it.

Another problem for the Red Cross was the finding that the organization did not perform background checks of any kind on its volunteers or its employees (Boissier, 1985; Willemin & Heacock, 1984). That was a big concern, because there have been fraud problems in the past. Many resources have been wasted because of dishonest people in the Red Cross, and that makes people who really do want to help others reluctant to provide any donations to the organization. The fear that the donations (especially monetary donations) will be mishandled is a strong one, and that can keep people away even when they would like to help others in their community or elsewhere. There is only a minimum check performed on those who want to work with the organization, and that includes a social security number verification and a National Criminal File search going back seven years. Anything else a person has done will not be located, and that makes for inconsistencies for a number of Red Cross workers. Between that and the very slow response times that have been seen with disasters like Katrina, it can be hard to see the Red Cross as being a highly ethical organization. During Katrina, there were many people who said the Red Cross responded very slowly, did not seem organized, and avoided helping many of the communities along the Gulf Coast.

Discrimination has also been something the Red Cross has been accused of, primarily because of its blood donation policies that do not allow homosexual men to participate in giving blood (Bennett, 2005). However, the issue of blood safety is not one that can be based on the social policies of an organization. It is based on public health, and guidelines from the FDA that clearly state men who have had sexual relations with other men cannot give blood. This has nothing to do with the Red Cross specifically and everything to do with the FDA wanting to reduce the risk of infections such as HIV being passed through blood transfusions. There are many other criteria that also exclude people from giving blood, so there is no direct evidence that the Red Cross has a discrimination policy against homosexuals or anyone else, including African-Americans and other minority groups.

Further discrimination talk regarding the Red Cross came about because of the story of Charles Drew, an African-American man who allegedly bled to death when a hospital denied him a blood transfusion based on his race (Willemin & Heacock, 1984). The story has been around for over fifty years even though it has been refuted by many people including the Drew family. The American Red Cross sees providing a safe blood supply for all patients who need it as the top priority of the organization, no matter the characteristics of that patient. There are many layers of safety one has to work through, and it would be very difficult to get through those layers and still deny giving someone blood based on their race or any other characteristic. Careful records are kept by hospitals and by the Red Cross. While it is not impossible that discrimination does occur in some ways inside the Red Cross or any organization, these examples show that there is no obvious, outward discrimination based on characteristics for which an organization in the United States is not allowed to discriminate.

It has also been stated that the Red Cross sold coffee and donuts during WWII instead of giving them away (Forsythe, 2005). That is true, but with a serious caveat that most people fail to realize. The service agencies throughout Britain during that…

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