Business Ethics Essay: Burger King
‘Burger King’, is a U.S. based fast food organization with more than 12000 outlets across seventy three countries where it serves around 11.1 million clients on daily basis. Burger King is the second largest fast food company . Though, in recent business competition, organizations are required to behave more ethically and showing a corporate socially responsible behavior. Corporations that were meant to generate profits now cannot achieve this goal without considering the needs and requirements of their environment. Thus, the achievement of BK is directly associated to the discernment carried by its stakeholder. This paper attempts to explain the ethical practices and corporate socially responsible conduct of the Burger King that attract its various stakeholders (Young, 2017). To initiate the explanation, first a little discussion regarding ethics and corporate social responsibility is needed.
Ethics is the philosophy of manner leading a group or individual. It can be referred as a study of morality (Das Gupta, 2010). Ethics as mentioned afore are morals and actions that lead a specific individual and when it comes to business ethics, it basically is the same but here it does not lead an individual but a whole organization. Business ethics specifically integrates the core values of an organization like trust, honesty, fairness and respect in its practices, policies and decision making and decision-making (Das Gupta, 2010). Whereas Corporate Social Responsibility deals with the way business manages its operations to generate an overall wellness impact on the whole environment. Details of the policies and practices of Burger King can be now explained (Young, 2017).
According to Burger King, As a corporation they consider corporate responsibility as viewing beyond the defined end result to ponder over the influence of each and everything done by us. It deals with doing the correct things being a corporate citizen in the present day global market place whilst successfully reaching the business objectives and targets (BURGER KING®., 2018)..
They consider it as not a final outcome but an ongoing process as the procedures and policies involved will change and evolve according to the business landscape changes. Keeping in consideration the importance of corporate social responsibility, Burger King regard it as investment that may lead to enhancement in employee morale and increasing the rate of employee retention similarly it may help in declining the business risk, strengthen the brand loyalty and help in building a goodwill by helping and strengthening the communities their businesses are being operated and may also impact in saving energy and reducing wastage (BURGER KING®., 2018). Their policy is driven by stakeholder focusing on four aspects, the food they serve, the people involved in whole supply chain, the environment they are operating and the way the corporate governance is being done.
Burger King shows dedication in investing and supporting in its people whether it’s their suppliers, employees, franchisees or restaurant guests as they are being considered as the cornerstones of their business. They treat the employees and the restaurant guests in a similar way. A foundation named, ‘The BURGER KING McLAMORE’ is made to support the people considered as family and friends of Burger King. Apart from it, along with the franchisee community, several regional and local initiatives are being supported by Burger King worldwide (BURGER KING®., 2018).
Burger King distinguishes itself from its rivals by being an extraordinary employer. To accomplish this objective it has establishes an organizational culture having characteristics of accountability, meritocracy, fun, empowerment and boldness (Young, 2017). Its environment related policies include continuous review of policies concerning animal welfare, their sourcing and influence on environment to make sure that Burger King keeps itself a good corporate citizen within the community it is serving. Keeping in view the corporate social responsibility, waste management and recycling are considered as the biggest issues to tackle and hence the suppliers are being coordinated to sort out ways of reducing, reusing and recycling products (Young, 2017).
Moreover ethical practices of Burger King are not restricted to corporate responsibility and community only but also focus on corporate governance. It has installed a well rooted corporate compliance and governance program. It has devised codes and policies to cater ethical principles as well as the particular problems faced by its business partners and employees on day-to-day basis. The aim of Burger King is to persistently reinforce its procedures and policies to ensure legal compliance as well as to maintain accountability and openness. The basic governance and ethical principles start at the top management. The tone is thus set by the board of directors reinforcing an ethical culture that values and respects all stakeholders and employees and encourages compliance with legal policies as well as legal system. It ensures that its suppliers also comply with the Code of Business Ethics and Conduct for Vendors.
Today the Burger King ethical guidelines seem to be the best but it has undergone many ethical dilemmas on its way. Few of them are discussed below. Burger King employs zero TFA advertisements as this can impact human body in a negative manner. Burger King therefore made an ethical decision by explaining its avoidance in food. It was then made compulsory for other fast food brands to explain their usage of TFA. This zero TFA policy was initiated after 2008, prior to that it had been using TFA in its products as well though TFA related research began in 2005 (Jeffery et al., 2006). Another well known unethical behavioral practice by Burger King in the past years was avoiding the rights of animals claimed by other organizations (Aydin and Soba, 2011). In 2001, ‘PETA’ an animal rights group launched a campaign targeting the fast food industry in the united states while disrupting the reputation of Burger King to its most. PETA introduced a campaign lasting for six month names “Murder King” and won its battle against Burger King (Davies and Smith, 2004). Several supporters protested against the Burger King infront of its restaurants all across the country. It was then the company established new rules and guidelines for compliance about the animal rights. Burger King reputation was badly hit and this made Burger King to enter into a cordial contract with PETA (PETA, 2018). Hence the best practices the organizations are now showing with regards to ethics are not promptly generated but are a result of a continual up gradation process resulting by hitting through rights association and awareness groups.
Ethics practices have become a norm of today’s businesses, however, this was not the case when industrialization started. As the concept of mass production entails low wage employment of labor and much defined work hours. But as the people started awareness campaigns, and started movements for their rights, organization reputations were at stake. To counter such dilemmas , organizations started behaving ethically and making ethical guidelines to be followed at their work place. Then as more awareness began regarding the environmental degradation resulting due to organizations making huge wastage and dumping it into natural resources. The organizations started acquiring social responsibility into their practices.
Today, businesses are competing to become least wastage producing, more biodegradable products and most efficient processes of recycling to be installed. As these days the consumers are very well concerned about their own health as well as the well being of their environment. Campaigns like saving energies, saving water, no trash are a norm of today’s business practices. Therefore it can be said that in today’s global world with several means of communications, companies to be well ethical in their business practices in order to lead and gain a competitive advantage over its rivals.
Being a consumer, I would not prefer fast food as matter of food but just as a casual piece of meal. The main reason behind my choice is my health goals. Nowadays health awareness has created an aversion towards these fried food items and people have started shifting towards much healthier meal option. Even mothers now are more concerned about the diet their kids are taking. Therefore having known to the fact that fast food is equal to junk food, I would definitely not prefer it as a regular mean but it can be adopted as a once in blue moon. Same goes to other products, as more and more campaigns are staring against big corporations, I have started very choosy and peculiar in my selection of products and definitely want to have product that is more environment friendly, easily recyclable and least costly as well.
Aydin, E. and Soba, M. (2011). Ethical Approach to Fast Food Product Contents and Their Advertisement Strategies. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 2(24), pp. 158-167.
BURGER KING®. (2018). BURGER KING® Corporate Responsbility. [online] Available at: https://www.bk.com/corp-respon [Accessed 13 Dec. 2018].
Das Gupta, A. (2010). Ethics, business and society. Los Angeles: Response Books.
Davies, G. J., and Smith, J. L. (2004), “Fast food: Dietary Perspectives” Nutrition & Food Science 34(2).
Jeffery, R., Baxter, J., McGuire, M. & Linde, J. (2006)., “Are fast food restaurants an environmental risk factor for obesity?” International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, pp.1-6.
PETA. (2018). PETA's Milestones | PETA. [online] Available at: https://www.peta.org/about-peta/milestones/ [Accessed 13 Dec. 2018].
Young, J. (2017). Burger King’s Organizational Culture Characteristics - Panmore Institute. [online] Panmore Institute. Available at: http://panmore.com/burger-king-organizational-culture-characteristics [Accessed 13 Dec. 2018].
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