Ethics is a termthat has been used to refer to a set of moral standards and behaviorthat governs an individual or an organization. Each firm or businessentity has to have a reference point from which they refer to on howbest to solve some social issues (Larmer, 322). In any culture, firmsface a significant challenge trying to meet and solve all theethical, social and environmental challenges that they face as theyoffer services to their customers.
Moral principles,which closely relate to the values of a firm, define the culture ofboth the immediate community and the business. They resemble the law.Even though they can be neglected ethical principles cannot bebroken (Byron and William, 2). Instead, they will always be availableto the people involved, waiting to be applied. Various ethicalprinciples have been outlined to help in the daily operations of abusiness and other organizations. Among them include the principle ofintegrity, the principle of veracity, the principle of fairness, theprinciple of human dignity, the principle of participation, theprinciple of commitment, the principle of social responsibility, theprinciple of common good, the principle of subsidiarity and theprinciple of love (Byron & William, 3).
On the other hand,firmly constituting to the success of many firms is the aspect ofsocial responsibility. Business experts, lawyers as well aseconomists, have gotten into heated debates regarding socialresponsibility. In the long run, it has been agreed that a sociallyresponsible firm must be in a position to uphold social equality,enhance the relationships between and among communities and stillobserve the various value-maximizing governance practices. Overly,all properly governed firms have turned out to be sociallyresponsible (Savitz, 131).
Also known ascorporate social responsibility, social responsibility becomes moreconsistent when shareholders are involved, and the set initiativesare for the sole purpose of benefiting the society. In today’ssociety, most businesses are practices either one or more of thethree broad categories corporate social responsibility, which arephilanthropy, environment, and ethical labor practices. Whileundertaking the socially responsible initiatives, a firm not onlywins the socially conscious customers to their side but also makes anenormous contribution to the world. Additionally, the company gets toearn the public’s trust thus promoting the sales. Given the currentfinancial standings of the Shoprite stores, it is evident that theorganization is economically viable. Over the years, their sales havebeen going up thus acquiring more profits.
Environmentalsustainability refers to act of finding more innovative ways ofcutting the costs that the firm incurs and minimizing the impacts itsactivities have on the environment. among the most commonly appliedsustainable strategies include the conservation of energy and wateras well as the reduction of packaging material in the case ofshopping stores. Other initiatives towards achieving environmentalsustainability include reduction of carbon (IV) oxide emissions andstopping forest destruction. An environmentally sustainable firm,despite placing many demands on the environment, instills strategiesthat ensure the requirements can be met without limiting the capacityof both the current and the future generations to live well.
Various ethicalapproaches have been designed to help firms to decide which actionsare morally right and wrong. Among them include the rights approach,the utilitarian approach, the virtue approach, the common rightapproach and the justice approach. The rights ethical approachaddresses the thoughts of Emmanuel Kant and other authors who thoughtlike him. According to them, human beings are different from theother things for the one reason that they have the opportunity tochoose freely what they want to do. People should not be manipulatedin any way and using people or organization for this matter in waysthat they do not chose is defined as a violation of human dignity.Whenever a firm seeks to implement the rights approach to ethics,some considerations like whether the action respects everyone’smoral right, have to be put in place. The determination of eitherright or wrong depends on the degree of the violation the more theviolation, the more wrongful an action is considered (Larmer, 325).
On the other hand,the utilitarian approach, which was pioneered by John Mill and JeremyBentham, sought to help legislators to regulate which laws withintheir organizations are morally right. They both agreed that ethicalpractices are the ones that bring the greatest balance of good overevil. Therefore, in this case, when this approach is applied, thefirm needs to consider and come up with a list of all the people whowill be affected by any particular action that they take. Afterward,they have to choose which action produces the greatest good for thehighest number of people. The utilitarian approach duly focuses onall the possible consequences of a firm’s actions to the well-beingof the persons who directly or indirectly rely on the enterprise.
The virtue approachwhich mainly dwells on the dispositions and attitudes that directpeople on the best way to act assumes that there are certain setideas within which people should work. The base of these thoughts isthe reflection of what kind of person an individual has the potentialof becoming in future. In this sense, the vision of a firm depends onthe virtue approach. This is because, the view of a company, whichentirely outlines the position it looks forward to becoming,regarding the goods and services it provides as well as the relationwith the society, is crucial to its development. Virtues enable afirm to offer services in a manner that will allow them to discovertheir greatest potential, and once the virtues are acquired, theybecome part of the organization.
The common goodapproach assumes that every society contains people who want to bepart of the good of the community as a whole. According to theauthors and other advocates of this approach, all social conditionsmust favor every individual. Therefore, every person has an equalchance of accessing any institution of their choice or any businessentity they wish to purchase any goods or seek services of any form.The fairness or the justice approach roots back to the teachings ofAristotle who once said that “the equals should be treated equallyand the unequal unequally.” The moral questions behind the sloganof this approach include “how fair the action is” and “does ittreat everyone in the same way, or does it show favoritism anddiscrimination?”
This paper mainlyaddresses Shoprite Supermarkets and their ethical, social andenvironmental practices that they engage in when offering theservices to their customers. Shoprite Holdings Limited is aninvestment company that makes up of the largest fast-moving consumergoods (FMCG) and has opened up over 300 stores around the world.Shoprite supermarket is believed to have originated in New Jersey atthe time when buyers could not get fair prices for groceries. Afterthe company had decided to cut its prices by approximately 10%, theywere able to get the support of their customers to come up with morestores. Currently, Shoprite stores stretch from Maryland all the wayto the Connecticut. Despite that New Jersey is considered as the homefor the Shoprite stores, there are quite many them in the suburbs ofNew York City and also Philadelphia (Hirshon, 146).
Shopritesupermarkets offer to their customers a numerous variety of goods andservices. Shoprite supermarket stores major on providing groceries,warehouse clubs, garden centers wines and spirits, fresh grocer aswell as shopritedelivers.com, a digital platform that focuses on thesale of electronics, specialty foods, baby care products and healthand beauty products I over fifty states in the US. In the case of theShoprite wines and spirit stores, they are either located inside oradjacent to the supermarkets although there are few instances offreestanding wines and spirits stores. They are thirty-eight Shopritewines and spirits stores in New Jersey and New York. The Shoprite newgrocery stores aim at placing more emphasis on the need for freshorganic foods and other upscale specialty foods that they offer inthe other stores. Located mostly near campuses, new grocery storesoffer an entirely “new insight into the next generation ofconsumers” and thus creating awareness to the new customers.Additionally, the company usually holds a can-can sale twice everyyear for the sale of canned goods.
Shoprite has usedmany different slogans in the past years some of which are beingused to date to market their sales. Based on the slogans whichultimately define the missions of the firm, it is evident that thecompany follows a particular set of ethics and is sociallyresponsible. One of its previous slogans was “This is yourneighborhood. This is your Shoprite”. The sole purpose of coming upwith this slogan was to promote and support the activities of thesurrounding community. The slogan is still used currentlymanufactured trucks. Regarding the basic ethical approach that thecompany seems to lean on based on its mission, it is evident that itleans on the standard right approach as well as the fairnessapproach. It offers all individuals equal opportunity to access thestores, and their activities depend on how good an action is. As aresult, the company has gained the support of the community andconsequently enabling it to expand its stores to many other states.
As declared by theBoard under section 72(4) of the Companies Act, the Shoprite Holdingsestablished a social and ethics committee which is responsible foroverseeing all the social problems in all its branches as well asensuring that all the activities that take place in its environs aremorally right. Other than that, the committee makes sure that thefirm carries out its operations in a manner that enables it todevelop or even review the existing policies, practices andgovernance structures that are responsible for how best the businessapproaches an emerging challenge. Shoprite’s social and ethicalcommittee, besides monitoring the codes of best practice and otherlegal requirements, reports to the relevant stakeholders during theannual general meeting. Another responsibility that rests on thecommittee is that it has to inform the board on all the ethics andsocial matters that are in any way related to the firm.
The social andethics committee focuses on the company’s wellbeing in manydifferent aspects. Among them include employment and labor, thehealth and public safety and the environment and the impacts ofundertakings and goods and services, the relationships between thefirm and its customers including advertisements and compliance andthe economic and general social development of the enterprise. Moreso, the committee focuses on the strategies of promoting equality inthe firm and the prevention of discrimination, the discouragement ofhuman rights violation, prevention of fraud and the contribution thatthe company makes to the community in which its activities takeplace. The committee meets twice every year and to make their workeasier, they have expertise in each of the relevant fields. Forinstance, during the committee meeting held in the 2014/2015financial year, the firm was concerned mostly with the labor policiesand practices that govern its employees, the employment equity plansthat are relevant to the organization, the trends in corruption aswell as environmental, health and safety performance of the workers.
According to thepast reports sent to the top management of the firm, there have beenno cases of non-compliance. Given that the operations of a businessand the ultimate success all come down to culture and trust, it isalways advisable that an organization cultivates on some criticalvirtues that will enhance its development. Cooperation and honesty,both of the company workers as well as with the adjacent community iscore towards ensuring the success of any firm. Among other virtuesthat Shoprite values since they substantially constitute to itsdevelopment are dependability and availability. The integration ofculture and ethics in the development of the firm is seen whenShoprite interacts with the community thus gaining their support(Byron & William, 4).
Sustainable businessinitiatives can be related to either social or cooperate aspects ofthe company. Despite environmental sustainable initiatives working toachieve the protection of the environment as well as improving theworking conditions of the workers, they have also been proven to becrucial business strategies. By taking part in the environmentallysustainable practices, companies like Shoprite have been able togenerate more cost savings and eliminate excessive wastes. In thecurrent society, people have opted to adopt the “going green”slogan and thus eco-friendly business have the advantage of favorablepublic opinion regarding their operation, and expansions and theircustomers prove to be loyal (Savitz, 248).
For over threedecades, Shoprite has been very active in both environmental andcommunity initiatives, and they consider environmental sustainabilityas the “right thing to do.” To minimize the impacts of theiractivities on the environment, the company has taken some steps,though the support of the community as well. First, Shoprite hassignificantly promoted grocery bag waste reduction for the past manyyears. The stores provide three bag options, that is, plastic, paperand reusable canvas and advise their customers to reuse the bags tohave a broad assortment of the reusable bags.
Additionally, thecompany advocates for the recycling of the grocery bags. They thusplace recycling bins outside their stores so as to ease thecollection of the plastic bags and reduce the amount of trash sent tothe landfill. Moreover, the recycling process saves the company thecost of producing new bags for their customers. Shoprite Companyoperates their recycling center in New Jersey, a facility which isset to run sixteen hours every day for six days a week and recyclesshrink wrap, corrugated cardboard as well as plastic bags. Recently,the facility was expanded and advanced to recycle wire bound woodencrates, floral containers, and Shoprite gift cards.
Shoprite came upwith a program that aimed at educating the community on recycling, aprocess which they broke down into three steps. The first phaseinvolves the collection of and processing of the recyclables. All theproducts that can be recycled are collected through drop-off centers,curbside programs or refund programs and later transported to afacility for sorting. The second step, manufacturing, involves theuse of the recycled materials as raw materials for the manufacturingindustries. This reduces the amount of water used and also saves onthe use of energy. After production, people can then purchase therecycled goods to help close the recycling cycle. Among the mostcommon products that come from recycled products include cerealboxes, egg cartons, trash bags and paper towels among others.
As a measure ofenvironmental sustainability, Shoprite publishes an environmentalmagazine called the Shoprite Earth news which aims at informing theircustomers and any other concerned people on how best to become“green” by reducing the amount of water and energy that thy use,making composting manure lessens the waste from their homes and anyother ways that help to conserve the environment both for theirwell-being and that of the future generations. Also, the firmannually conducts the “Shoprite Earth Day Challenge” which callsupon volunteers to clear litter at all the local beaches and parks.
Through theirgrocer gardens, Shoprite educates people on the many strategies thatmake their gardens as eco-friendly as possible. They believe thatmaking their gardens more sustainable will, in the long run, helpboth the garden and the environment at large. One of the simple stepstowards achieving an eco-friendly garden has been to come up with abetter way of watering the garden. According to Shoprite Holdings,watering the garden during the coolest part of the day allows morewater to infiltrate into the ground before it evaporates into theatmosphere. As a result, one can save as much water as possible whichis a core step towards ensuring a sustainable environment. They alsoadvocate for the application of mulch in the gardens so as toconserve the moisture in the soil and consequently save the amount ofwater used. Mulching also inhibits weeds which may deprive the cropof water and other essential nutrients.
Other than mulchingand watering their gardens during the coolest part of the day,Shoprite educates their customers and the general public to achieveeco-friendly farming through the application of organic manure. Theymostly advocate the use of compost manure from kitchen waste andother materials like twigs and leaves. Composting allows the farmerto make use of materials that they would rather throw away and helpsin the creation of humus which boosts the soil fertility. Materialssuch as coffee husks can also be used to enhance the fertility of thesoil by adding nitrogen, calcium, and potassium into the ground andshould thus not be disposed but rather employed in the gardens.
Detail assessment ofdifferent firms has indicated that there exists an intricaterelationship among ethical, social and environmental issues about theoverall performance of business (Savitz, 133). Ethical practices likeaccountability and offering genuine products to the customerscontribute significantly to the success of the firm (Byron &William, 6). In this context, the integration of ethical, social andenvironmental responsibility has helped the company to boost itssales and expand its stores. Besides working to improve thewell-being of the surrounding community, Shoprite goes a step furtherto educate the public on the best ways to enhance their lives.
Overly, the futureof the organization seems to be based on the ethical, social and theenvironmental standard practices that it takes place in. Forinstance, the fact that the firm incorporates the public in itsoperations like participating in education forums and challengesmeans that they have the public on their side. The public supportenables them to expand their stores all over the world, and thecollaboration creates a good relationship between the two.Additionally, the top management of Shoprite has been able toorganize for the best products and services for their customers.
According to thepast annual reports, there has been no case of non-compliance fromthe enforcement groups regarding the firm. This means that theenterprise conducts its activities in an ethical manner. There hasbeen no record of harm to any individual or a group of people as aresult of using Shoprite products. All their current practices are areflection of ethical, social and environmental responsibility withtheir sole purpose being to enhance the well-being of the communityin which they operate.
Despite all theinitiatives to achieve ethical, social and environmentalresponsibility, the firm has faced some challenges in its operations.Among the biggest challenges regards the use of electricity as thesource of power. In the past years, the organization has implementedmany strategies in an attempt to reduce the consumption. On thecontrary, the average cost that they pay for electricity escalated byapproximately 4% between the year 2011 and 2012 resulting in a 34%increase in their electricity bill. To avert this situation and tocut their power cost, Shoprite started developing and attendingconsumption benchmarks in the different stores that it operates.Other than, it employed a team of equipment manufacturers and expertsto evaluate closely the possible technologies and initiatives toreduce the energy spent on refrigeration and lighting.
Regarding carbondisclosure, it is recommended that the organization should come upwith a specific carbon reduction target with which to work on.Following the protocols that were set by the Carbon DisclosureProject, the firm was supposed to complete its first carbonassessment footprint, something that is still pending. Therefore, itis suggested that they complete the footprint assessment to maketheir accuracy and its carbon disclosure easier given the fact thatit hopes to increase its scope by opening more stores in the future.
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