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Sustainability: Ethical and Social Responsibility Dimensions Essay Sample

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Sustainability: Ethical and Social Responsibility Dimensions Essay Sample

When making business decisions that impact the environment, there are often risks and issues that affect an organization. It is important to identify those issues and risks to promote sustainability. Stakeholders have concerns about different aspects of the environment and how organizations should respond to them through strategies and how they operate. A positive ethical culture can be created when a business shows concern for the environment. According to Ferrell, Fraedrich and Ferrell (2011) “corporate social responsibility performance has been found to increase employee’s company identification and commitment” (p. A-2). Essential Facts

A major issue in the twenty-first century is the protection of our natural resources such as air, water, land, biodiversity, and renewable natural resources. Governments around the world have responded to pressures put on the sustainability of these resources by environmental protection laws. Companies have been increasingly incorporating these issues into their business strategies to not only reduce their own environmental impact, but to create a reputation as eco-responsible companies. Issues Raised

Air pollution can harm animals, plants and bodies of water. There is a substantial amount of pollution that comes from man-made sources such as from factories, cars, planes and trains that have an effect on the quality of air we breathe. These conditions can reduce life spans and cause chronic respiratory issues in animals and humans. Some of the chemicals that are associated with air pollution have been known to contribute to birth defects, cancer and other damages to the human body. According to Ferrell, Fraedrich and Ferrell (2011) pollution can “also cause haze, which can reduce visibility and interfere with traveling” (p. A-2). Global warming is believed by scientists to be accelerated by the concentrations of green house gases like methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Burning of fossil fuels―gasoline, oil, natural gas and coal, has increased the concentrations of these greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Water pollution affects billions of people as well as other animals and plant life. Ferrell, Fraedrich and Ferrell (2011) state “water pollution is one of the biggest contributors to illness in developing countries” (p.A-3).

The chemicals that are found in common fertilizers and pesticides can drain into water supplies after a rainfall. Pollutants can come from a wide variety of sources including from carbon emissions from cars that are absorbed into the ocean. Dumping of waste into our streams, rivers and oceans, as well as oil spills, industrial waste, and more contribute to the issue of water pollution. Water quantity is also a worry by many people due to the usage increase over the last two decades. Water is not only needed to drink, it is also used for crops that feed us all. With less water available, food crops will not be as available, and businesses may suffer because of it. Ferrell, Fraedrich and Ferrell (2011) state “one of the biggest factors in land pollution is the dumping of waste into landfills,” and landfills that are left untreated can take 1,000 years to degrade. The U.S. alone has up to 40,000 abandoned landfills filled with plastics and other items like electronic waste that can release harmful toxins into the air and water (p. A-4). Deforestation is been on the rise because of the boom in bio-fuels. Trees are being cut down to make room for palm oil plantations or for raising sugarcane.

According to Ferrell, Fraedrich and Ferrell (2011) “the profits from deforestation for farmers are usually short-lived as rainforest soil is of poor quality. This prompts low-income farmers to destroy more forest to eke out a living” (p. A-4). After World War II building boom, urban sprawl began. Ferrell, Fraedrich and Ferrell (2011) state “ As the places where people live, work, and shop grew further apart, peoples began spending more time in automobiles driving greater distances” (p. A-5). This has not only contributed to consumed wildlife habitats, wetlands, and farmland, it has also contributed to air, water, and land pollution. Ferrell, Fraedrich and Ferrell (2011) say that “deforestation, pollution, development, and urban sprawl have put increasing pressure on wildlife, plants and their habitats” (p. A-5). Many plants and animals have already become extinct, and there are thousands more threatened. Experts fear that the overutilization of natural resources will cause catastrophic imbalances in the environment. According to Ferrell, Fraedrich and Ferrell (2011) “each biological species plays a unique role in its ecosystem and is part of a complex chain of events, the loss of any one of them may threaten the entire ecosystem” (p. A-5). Analysis of Decision / Final Result

There are several alternatives to fossil fuels that can reduce pollutions and improve the environment. Wind power, geothermal power, solar power, nuclear power, bio-fuels and hydropower to name a few. Many organizations are learning that to be environmentally friendly and sustainable has many benefits― including stakeholder goodwill and money savings from being more efficient and less wasteful. There have been studies that suggest that improving a company’s environmental performance can increase revenues and reduce costs. Poor environmental management has been recognized by banks who grant loans to be an increased risk. Workers also care about the impact that their companies have on the environment. Ferrell, Fraedrich and Ferrell (2011) state “that responding to stakeholders’ concerns about environmental issues will both improve relationships with stakeholders and make the world a better place” (p. A-13). Textbook Questions

1. The main issue relating to sustainability in our society is the lack of regulation globally in regards to pollution and waste management. 2. I believe that solar power is the viable source of alternative energy because it is 100% renewable and can be stored in batteries. 3. I do not think it is acceptable for companies to exaggerate environmental claims to sell products. In doing so it is not ethical. It is the same as telling part of the truth. I believe companies should be held to high standards and held accountable to them.


Ferrell, O. C., Fraedrich, J., & Ferrell, L. (2011). Business ethics: Ethical decision making and cases. (9th ed., Vol. ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

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