The 21st century has proven to be an interesting period for businesses. With the invention of social media and the availability of information on-demand through the internet and mobile devices, businesses are constantly facing scrutiny from the public eye in regards to how they conduct themselves. Gone are the days of the 90’s when a business didn’t have to place much emphasis on their ethical responsibilities. Today however, a business must be very precise and careful in how it operates. Whether it be which political party they support, or their stance on same-sex marriage, a business must be very careful to stay within the boundaries of acceptable behavior. Consumers and media alike are paying much more attention to how a business reacts to these issues, and buying decisions are often made accordingly. If a company acts outside the guidelines of what is generally accepted as ethical, it can be detrimental to the health of their business.
In the given TaskStream example, Company Q is described as a company that hasn’t acted in a socially responsible manner. Closing stores in higher crime-rate areas, adding a very limited amount of customer requested items, and refusing to donate day-old products to the food bank are all indications that Company Q is sensitive towards its profits, but they don’t have a grasp on their social responsibilities. In fact, if Company Q were to dig a little deeper and try to become more socially responsible, the profits may very well have seen a great improvement. Being a part of the community is essential for the growth of any business, and Company Q seems to have failed to demonstrate any involvement.
There are several actions that Company Q could have taken to improve their attitude towards social responsibility. First, Company Q should have performed a thorough evaluation to find the root cause of the consistent loss of profits in the 2 stores they closed in higher crime-rate areas. They would have likely found that the products that they were offering in all stores simply did not sell well in all of the stores due to the varying demographics. Catering product offerings is vital to ensure sustainability and growth. If Company Q offered organic vegetables and cage free eggs in an area that is typically classified as lower income, they would probably have a hard time selling those products. However, if Company Q stocked low-cost food items and affordable goods that were catered towards the demographic of their customer, they would probably turn a profit. Diversification across Company Q’s various stores will definitely take more effort, but the outcome could relate to more jobs for their employees, more customers, and more growth for the company.
The second action that Company Q could take to improve social responsibility would be to develop and implement a fraud, waste, and abuse program. Company Q’s refusal to donate products to the food bank due to potential theft brings light to an even larger problem. A good fraud, waste, and abuse program is an important foundation in any company’s ethical code of conduct. If a small team of company employees was created, they would be able to find the instances in which there may be fraud or abuse with food bank donations. It’s absolutely irresponsible to throw items away that could go to needy due to a fear of theft by internal employees. Food banks rely on donations from grocery stores to help feed the less fortunate. Other grocery stores participate in this practice and have obviously found a way to donate successfully without theft, and with some thoughtful controls put in place, Company Q could do the same.
The third thing that Company Q could improve upon is the very limited amount of health-conscious and organic products in its stores. The given example in TaskStream stated that these products are high-margin products, and that consumers have requested them in Company Q’s stores. This is an indicator that there’s a disconnect between the company and the consumer. If Company Q would take the requests of its customers into more thoughtful consideration, they would fulfill both the needs of the business and the needs of the consumer. The business needs to be profitable to sustain and grow, and stocking more organic and health-conscious products would help with its profitability due to their demand. This is also a win for the consumer as the business would tailor its offerings to match what its customers want to buy.
In conclusion, social responsibility is extremely important in today’s business environment. It fosters both a better work environment and a better reputation within the community. We hear about stories of businesses acting irresponsibly every day, which is the kind of publicity that a business does not need or want. If both large and small businesses placed more of an emphasis on ethics training and spent some quality time addressing the various issues that could plague it with problems, communities would grow with the businesses, and likewise the business would grow with the needs of the communities in which they reside. It all starts with something as simple as a grocery store deciding to stop using plastic grocery bags due to the abundance of trash in the community. The trickle effect that this creates could snowball into a much greater result and be a long-lasting positive outcome of a simple practice