Ethics In Wal-mart Argumentative Essay

Published: 2021-06-22 00:26:50
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Category: Workplace, Employee, Social Issues, Women, Company, Ethics, United States

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In a period of over the last ten years, Wal-Mart has greatly expanded its operations in all parts of the world and has now become the world’s number one retailer and the biggest employer in the United States of America (the Fortune 500). This company has currently more than 1.7 million employees. Wal-Mart is a big company faced with big responsibilities (Fishman, 2006). For instance, taking the case of its operations in the United States, the company has the responsibility to the people, as Blank points out that, “to set the standard for customers, workers and communities, and to help build a better America” (Blank, 2005). However, this is not currently the case, and instead, “Wal-Mart lets America down by lowering wages, forcing good paying American jobs overseas, and cutting costs with total disregard for the values that have made America a great nation” (Blank, 2005 p.1). It is also reported that the company engages in such unacceptable activities such as unnecessary exploitation of illegal immigrants. In addition, the company has been facing lawsuits in line with gender discrimination and it also uses force to make employees to work in environments that are not safe. The company has over and over again been breaking the child labor laws. In this paper, it is going to be demonstrated that Wal-Mart engages in unethical employment practices by focusing more on the cost reduction and profit maximization and less on the employee welfare.
Unethical Employment practices at Wal-Mart
Wal-mart engages in unethical conduct on a regular basis. According to Ceausu (2006), the headlines with allegations of unacceptable employment practices carried out by Wal-Mart are seen almost on a weekly basis. Ceausu further points out that Wal-Mart, “the world’s largest retailer, is one of the selected groups of multinational brands that provokes strong reaction from people because of the way it treats its employees” (Ceausu, 2006, p.1). The list of allegations made against the company is growing with each and every coming day.
The company has been facing lawsuits concerning gender discrimination. Among these, there was a “class action case” that involved 1.6 million workers of the female gender (Bernstein, 2005). A verdict was made ordering the company to pay one hundred and seventy two million dollars in California for “lost breaks”. There was also a case where, in the year 2005, the government agents made arrests of several illegal immigrants working for the company (Lisa, 2004). Spangler, Britt and Parks report that in the year 2007, the Court of appeal in the United States of America for the “Ninth Circuit” engaged in the upholding of ‘the district’s court prior ruling to certify a class of female plaintiffs alleging that Wal-Mart discriminated against them on the basis of their gender violation of the Title VII of the civil rights Act of 1964” (Spangler, Britt and Parks, 2008). This case (Dukes case) was of great significance as it was the largest “discrimination class certification” in the history of the federal court as it involved a total of about 1.6 million plaintiffs (Hart, 2007). According to Goetz and Swaminathan, the class consisted of all the women who were “employed at any Wal-Mart domestic retail store at any time since December 16, 1998, who had been or may be subjected to Wal-Mart’s challenged pay and management track promotions policies and practices” (Goetz and Swaminathan, 2006, 215). The women are being discriminated against as it is indicated in this case. The men are favored more than men in the employment at Wal-Mart. This notion is indicated by Besen and Kimmel where they point out that the women are still being in the jobs that pay lower than those of men at Wal-Mart and also that the gap between promotion of men and women is well established (Besen and Kimmel, 2006). This is a violation of the “Fairness principle”. This principle requires the employers to treat employees in a fair manner without discrimination on whatever basis including on the basis of gender. By Wal-Mart discriminating against women, it is not acting in an ethical manner. To be ethical, the company is supposed to offer equal chances for promotion between men and women, offer equal wages and training to all employees without considering whether they are men or women.
The Wal-mart’s approach to health insurance for workers in the United States of America has not been seen as a favorable one by the American people and has faced much criticism. Even if claims have been presented by the company’s management that the health insurance is not affordable by many of the employees because of the eligibility requirements, the cost and the “wafting times”, the truth is that the company offers very minimal assistance for its employees. In regard to this issue, the company has even gone to an extend of devising some mechanisms and putting in place some policies to make it not to be easy for most of the employees to get a health insurance. For example, the company has put in place a policy that ensures that full-time employees work for a period of six months while the part time employees work for one year before they can have health insurance. They also made some changes in the year 2006 in which it had to make some of the full time employees to become part-time workers. This was also a way of making it difficult to have a health insurance cover. Such a practice is an unethical practice. Basing on the ethical principles of the global business standards codex, the “Dignity Principle” has been violated here. Following this principle involves showing concern about the employees’ health and safety. The Wal-Mart Company has been acting unethically by focusing little on the employee welfare, especially their health, and focusing more on cutting costs and maximizing profits.
Wal-mart has set up a policy that prevents formation of unions by its employees. This is perhaps why the company has been freely mistreating workers through exercising unethical employment practices. According to the company’s policy, the management claims that the company is not against unions and the unions may be right for some of the companies (Bernstein, 2005). However, it is further indicated that the company sees it as needless to have a third party coming in to stand between the company’s management and its associates. Instead of promoting formation of unions, the company promotes an “Open door” policy in which all the grievances that the employees have can be addressed at any point along the “corporate ladder” (Bernstein, 2005). However, as much as this “Open Door” policy may seem to be a good one in taking care of the employees’ welfare, this is not actually the case. Tilly reports that, in the Mexican situation, Wal-Mart tends to “universally have union contracts, but they are protection contracts that protect the company rather than workers – in fact, in most cases workers are unaware that the union exists (Tilly, 2007). Forming unions by employees encourages presenting any concerns or issues collectively to the management so that they can be addressed. “Open Door” put in place by the Wal-Mart company may only serve to identify people who may be regarded as stubborn and fighting against the company’s management. This brings in more harm than good. By the company not promoting unions, and promoting an “Open Door” policy instead, which may cause some employees to be victimized, is not acting in an ethical manner. An ethical employer is one that listens to the employee and responds without bias. Wal-Mart here can be seen to be violating the “Responsiveness Principle” which involves addressing concerns. The company does not provide a “level ground” for addressing the concerns and issues that the employees have by allowing them to form unions. More so, the “Transparency Principle” can also be seen to be violated. This principle involves being truthful and avoiding deception. By the company using an open door policy and allowing people to present their concerns on an individual level and blocking formation of unions, it is acting unethical. This is because, a person who might be having some concerns may be regarded as a troublemaker and end up losing his or her job and yet this person may not actually have committed an offense but just gone against the company’s interests.
The Wal-Mart Company engages in unethical practices. It exploits its employees by offering low wages to them and it also makes it difficult for the employees to access the health insurance. More so, this company has been facing lawsuits in regard to such issues as discrimination against women and employing illegal immigrants. It does not also promote formation of unions by employees The company has been focusing more on cutting costs in order of improve the company’s profits and has put little consideration on the welfare of the employees. The company has been violating several ethical principles in its employment practices. There is great need for this company to reconsider its policies in order to improve on the employment practices. For a big company like Wal-mart that is relied upon by a large number of people in the society, there is need for it to ensure that it conducts itself in an ethical manner to satisfy all sections of the society.
Bernstein, A., 2005. Declaring War On Wal-Mart. , BusinessWeek, 00077135, Issue 3919. Business Source Complete. EBSCO. Web. 30 May 2011
Besen, Y., & Kimmel, M.S. (2006). At Sam's Club, no girls allowed: The lived experience of sex discrimination. Equal Opportunities International, 25 (3), 172-187.
Blank, P., 2005. Wake-up Wal-Mart and Win. Social Policy, 36 (1), p45-48
Ceausu, J., 2006. Can Wal-Mart keep unions out? Personnel Today, 09595848. Business Source Complete. EBSCO. Web. 30 May 2011.
Fishman, C., 2006. The Wal-mart effect. New York: The Penguin Press.
Goetz, S. and Swaminathan, H., 2006. Wal-Mart and County-Wide poverty, Social Science Quarterly, 87 (2), 211 – 226.
Hart, M. (2007, March 29). Learning from Wal-Mart. Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal, 10(355), 355-394.
Lisa, T. C., 2004. Wal-Mart's Gender Gap. Time, 0040781X, 7/5/2004, 164 (1). Business Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 30 May 2011.
Spangler, M. A., Britt, M.M. and Parks, T.H., 2008. Wal-mart and Women: Good business practice or gamesmanship? Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship. Available from, [Accessed 29 May 2011].
Tilly, C.,2007. Global restructuring in retail; what impact on labor? Available from, [Accessed on 30 May 2011].

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