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Jodi O'Callaghan

What would you do? Your weekly ethical dilemma challenge

Your company has moved some of its agri-business activity off-shore (Country X). The principal attraction is a low-wage environment and a relaxed regulatory regime. Profits have increased since the decision was made, and this has allowed the company to cross-subsidise employment opportunities in its domestic market. Given that your competitors are 'downsizing', while profits continue to rise to record levels, your policy has brought a considerable amount of positive P.R. and support from government and the local community.
It comes to your attention that a small, and apparently unimportant, labour organisation (linked to the opposition party in Country X) has prepared a report indicating that your off-shore operations are being staffed by indentured 'piece workers', who earn a bare pittance, and that these same operations are causing serious pollution of the environment. All of this is strictly legal within the host country and there is little chance of the report being published by your local media.

What would you do? What ethical considerations would you give to your decision-making? Why? Why not? 

We encourage you to post your answers in the comments so we can create a healthy discussion, with the aim of learning from our peers, becoming aware of differing perspectives and challenging our own biases.

If you would like to submit an ethical dilemma to feature in an upcoming weekly challenge please email: dilemma@thebfo.org

Photo by Izzy Gerosa on Unsplash


Terry Pittorino on Friday, 12 Apr 2019
My response depends critically on context. Did my company know of these allegations and whether they are true? If yes (and I assume this is the correct answer assuming we have a robust outsourcing/offshoring assessment process) then we need to do nothing as we've already made the decision to be ethical (or not). If the allegations are news to us, we must establish their truth, and map some path forward for the company, the workers and the pollution impact. The company also needs to change its processes so that this situation is not repeated in the future.
Sergio Garcia on Friday, 12 Apr 2019
The first thing to do would be to investigate and see if the claims are accurate and true. if they are and the activity is indeed affecting the environment and the people working there, I would find a way to control the pollution and find a sustainable way to support the workers in a way that is beneficial for the company as well as the individuals and the country.

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