The moral responsibilities within a corporation or corporate moral responsibility is one of the issues of business ethics. Business ethics in all is the way the company behaves in the market, respecting the needs of the community and society in general and separate customers in particular. Ethics in businesses sounds rather disputable as people are aware of business as pure way of making money and not concentrating that much on the morality. But those companies, which do not take into consideration business ethics as an important issue in a work of a company, and break the laws, they usually get off the fair competitive cooperation. The corporation that runs its business according to business ethics lawsno matter what the business and the position of the employer within it is.
Taking moral responsibility is a good way to get more trust from the customers and suppliers and so get profits and benefits. The notion of the corporate moral responsibility was rather narrow some time ago. But as the investigation process moved further and many scholars got interested in questions like this one, the notion of corporate moral responsibility got much broaden [WiseGeek].
This is how a chair of the Santa Clara University Management Department, Manuel Velasquez sees it. On one hand, he approves that the moral responsibility can be viewed in the light of duty (i.e. the officials within a corporation have certain obligations and they are responsible for number of things, like treating employees fairly or handling the finances honestly or providing benefits to the community). On the other hand, it can be studied through the prism of guilt, i.e. in the event when the official knows his duties or obligations but they cause any harm either for their colleagues or for the company in all, although they knew it and could prevent it. In his further research he also claims that the company becomes responsible for the harm any of its workers causes, even if the company did not know it or could not have prevented it. Mr. Velasquez defines upstream and downstream development of the moral responsibility. The upstream is forwarded to suppliers. I understand it as following: for example, there is a corporation producing cars. The company orders some details to be imported. The details manufacturer supplies a consignment of details. As the result, the company produces cars and sells them to customers. But some of the details from that consignment were defective. So the company becomes morally responsible for the injury the importer or the supplier actually caused to a third party – a customer. A downstream development is in the event when the details from the importer were not defective and the company produced a good car, and then sold it to the customer, but the customer injured someone else with this car [Federwisch].
So, what we actually address here is ethics as trying to realize our individual as well as social experience in order to set some particular rules to regulate people’s behavior and set of values; and morality that is studied by ethics and is a keeping of commonly stated proper and right ways to behave on this or that position in the society or within a company.
First and foremost the moral responsibilities within a corporation should be clearly stated and understandable for its officials. The set of values and obligations due to the kind of business the corporation is running should be stated for all the officials in every unit of the career chain. Those moral standards should apply to the employees and employers on highest level. Among such moral standards set within a corporation we can mention the following: respecting normative legitimate basis, being in good and fair competitive trade relations, preventing harm and injury of employees, suppliers and customers, responsibility for ecological safety, providing profits for society along with doing so for individual purposes etc.
There is another bright example of moral responsibility within a corporation in a related manual. The Yahoo company in China is taken as a model. The article says that the Chinese journalist who supported democracy laws was leaking the state information about some provocative campaign of the Communist party via the Yahoo site. He put that information on the democracy forum based in New York. Later on he was arrested by Chinese authorities because the American Yahoo company disclosed his personal information to them. The Yahoo company said it was obliged to do so, and that such actions were not prohibited by the law, but on the other hand, the company was morally irresponsible supporting the censorship of another country and society, as it has its own system of rules and obligations, which it shouldn’t break even if legally obliged. So, the desire to get some profits is one of the first issues that make corporations morally limited [H. Shaw, 196].
To sum it up, the moral responsibilities within a corporation are a set of laws and obligations to be respected and kept, as it influences greatly the total image of the company in world business chain. Both the employers and the employees should be aware of the fact that their moral responsibility as of individual and as of a particular corporate community is significant in running successful businesses with relative results.
1. William H. Shaw. “Business Ethics. A Textbook with Cases. Seventh Edition”, Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2011, 2008, 2005.
2. Anne Federwisch. “Corporate Moral Responsibility and The Ethics of Product Usage”, Santa Clara University, the Jesuit University in Silicon Valley,
3. “What is Business Ethics?”, WiseGeek, Clear Answers for Common Questions,