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Ethics And Professional Practice - Aidan McQuade
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Ethics And Professional Practice - Aidan McQuade

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  • 1. Ethics, professional practice and some challenges from contemporary slavery Aidan McQuade Director Anti-Slavery International
  • 2. Overview of presentation
    • Theories of ethical responsibility
    • Learning from another profession
    • Issues posed by contemporary slavery in the modern world
  • 3. Why are professional ethics important?
  • 4. Why are professional ethics important?
    • Failure of strategic or financial management in a business can destroy the business
    • Failure of professional ethics can destroy an economy
  • 5. Consider this case:
    • “ You are a buyer working in Zambia for an international diamond wholesaler. You have the opportunity there to legally buy cheap diamonds from a group of sellers.
    • However you know that these diamonds must be sourced from Angola, because of their type and that Zambia produces no diamonds. You also know that those who are selling the diamonds are agents of UNITA, the Angolan rebel movement, who will use the profits to finance a terrorist campaign aimed mostly at civilians, often including children.
    • What do you do? Buy and make a considerable profit for your shareholders or refuse to buy?”
  • 6. From classical economics
    • The primary social obligation of business is production of profit for shareholders, and that there is an ethical compulsion for managers to take any project so long as it complies to law and will turn a profit
      • The Friedman view
  • 7. From classical economics
    • The primary social obligation of business is production of profit for shareholders, and that there is an ethical compulsion for managers to take any project so long as it complies to law and will turn a profit
      • The Friedman view
    • Anybody see any problems with this?
  • 8. Freidmanite ethics
    • Doesn’t distinguish between long term and short term profitability
    • Arises from classical view of economics that asserts that the duty of the state is to regulate business
    • Is it sufficient for the modern globalising political economy?
  • 9. Limitation of classical economic theory?
    • 51 of the world’s top 100 economic entities are now corporations
    • Only 49 are countries
    • In many countries rule of law is tentative at best
    • Begs the question how can trans-national corporations be regulated in the manner envisaged by classical economics
  • 10. Stakeholder view of the firm
    • A political-economic view of the firm, not solely economic
    • Narrow: asserts the importance of managing the reciprocal relations of all those on whom the firm depends in order to carry out its core economic function (or social function in the case of not-for-profit enterprises)
    • Broad: asserts the responsibility of the business to any group who are affected by the company
  • 11. Stakeholder view of the firm
    • A political-economic view of the firm, not solely economic
    • Narrow: asserts the importance of managing the reciprocal relations of all those on whom the firm depends in order to carry out its core economic function (or social function in the case of not-for-profit enterprises)
    • Broad: asserts the responsibility of the business to any group who are affected by the company
    • Anybody see any problems with this?
  • 12. Stakeholder view of the firm
    • Ethically neutral – managers who adhere to a Freidmanite ethical position can comfortably use stakeholder management techniques
    • Some aspects of stakeholder and classical economic view of the firm enshrined in law, but…
    • … no agreed moral core to stakeholder management, and hence to CSR
    • … no agreement on “lexical priorities” of rights and responsibilities to stakeholders
  • 13. Considering an issue from another profession
    • “ Certainly from a point of view, there’s things in the past I’ve done that I now know I shouldn’t have. You know, I’m not happy to do as I did, a procedure again … over the phone with a very sick baby, which as a very, very junior doctor - I mean I’d done no paediatrics, and the consultant told me through the phone with the help of a nurse who’d seen it a few times, but this was a procedure that somebody very qualified in paediatrics would have been trained to do and I didn’t really know that I could have said no to that. What I found was quite interesting, when I went back into hospital medicine for a year I was much more clued into the fact that ultimately the responsibility lay with the consultant and they actually I think were quite lax in letting somebody do something they were clearly not able to do. Especially now as a mother I wouldn’t have let me do what I did.”
      • Dr Audrey, Belfast, 2009
    • What are the key lessons relating to professional ethics would you draw from this example?
  • 14. Doctors’ hierarchy of moral principles suggests a basis for business morals
    • Medical guiding principles
    • Prevent harm to others
    • Protect the integrity of the service that the doctor is offering
    • Act in the best interests of the patient
    • Support the patient’s choices
  • 15. Doctors’ hierarchy of moral principles suggests a basis for business morals
    • Medical guiding principles
    • Prevent harm to others
    • Protect the integrity of the service that the doctor is offering
    • Act in the best interests of the patient
    • Support the patient’s choices
    • Business guiding principles
    • Uphold the universal declaration of human rights across operations and supply chain
    • Uphold rule of law
    • Sustainably maximise profits for shareholders (taking account of “triple bottom line”)
  • 16. Customising principles for business
    • Hierarchy of guiding principles provide the framework within which ethical management and CSR policies should be developed
    • The challenges of upholding rule of law may be slight for many businesses, but dramatic if working in countries such as Kenya
    • Which aspects of the UDHR should be most concern will vary according nature of business operation and supply chain
  • 17. Leadership and moral integrity
    • Leaders are those prepared to take personal responsibility for the consequences of their personal and professional decisions
    • It is from this that authority derives
  • 18. Moral integrity
    • About professionals trying to do the right thing in relation to their own personal moral values, experiences and hopes, aware of, but not determined by, the social pressures that may bear upon them.
    • This is a self-learned and self-learning process that is both enabled by and emerges from the taking of personal responsibility for the consequences of an individual’s choices and actions, rooted in personal reflexivity
    • Often the values and hopes that guide moral integrity may be burnished by the experience of regret or shame over past failures to live up to these values
  • 19. Importance of the human leadership in a business
    • The social, economic and environmental impact of a business depends intrinsically on the moral integrity of business executives running the business
  • 20. Constraints on moral leadership
    • Peer pressure
    • Distance
    • Embarrassment
    • Pleasure in the exercise of power over others
    • Desires of superiors
    • Reification
  • 21. Elements of a professional code of conduct
    • For the explicit purpose of complicating any potential decision consider its consequences in relation to the hopes and values of the diverse range of stakeholders who are implicated;
    • Take personal responsibility for the consequences of your professional choices;
    • Ensure that the correctness of decisions and the nature of the consequences are reviewed and of all consequences of all decisions are considered;
    • With hindsight decide if you would make the same decision over again and in the same way
  • 22. Consider the issue of contemporary slavery
    • At least 12.3 million people in slavery today (ILO) – some reckon figure closer to 27 million
    • ILO Global Report on Forced Labour (2005) estimates that 40 – 50% of forced labourers are children
  • 23. Slavery is also a significant issue in the international supply chain
    • Pressure for reduced costs in business
    • Increasingly complex supply chains
    • Forced labour identified in African
      • Mines – including coltan
      • Agriculture – including cocoa
    • Bonded labour identified in South Asian
      • Agriculture
      • Silk
      • Cotton production
      • Cigarettes
      • Brick kilns
      • Quarries and mines – including stone for the European market
    • NB these lists are not exhaustive
  • 24. Some consequences of globalisation of economy
    • Increased movement of labour
    • Pressure to drive down costs leading to increased exploitation of labour
    • Further driving feminisation of poverty
  • 25. Some consequences of climate change
    • Pressure on rural resources driving migration to urban centres and internationally
    • Increased conflict over limited resources exacerbating social, cultural and ethnic divisions
  • 26. Factors driving a growth in slavery and forced labour Increasing vulnerability of poor people Increasing social division and prejudice Globalising demand for low cost labour Continued failure of political leadership to address slavery issues
  • 27. UDHR articles relevant for the eradication of forced labour
    • Article 2 – freedom from discrimination
    • Article 4 – prohibition of slavery and the slave trade
    • Article 23 (3) – just and favourable remuneration
    • Article 23 (4) – right to join or form a trade union
    • Article 25 – right to a standard of living sufficient for health and well-being
    • Article 26 – right to education
  • 28. UDHR articles relevant for the eradication of forced labour
    • Article 2 – freedom from discrimination
    • Article 4 – prohibition of slavery and the slave trade
    • Article 23 (3) – just and favourable remuneration
    • Article 23 (4) – right to join or form a trade union
    • Article 25 – right to a standard of living sufficient for health and well-being
    • Article 26 – right to education
    • NB: There are business and economic reasons for considering these issues as well as moral and ethical reasons
  • 29.
    • Do businesses have the core competences and resources to ensure the application of the UDHR along its supply chain?
    • What are the personal responsibilities of business executives in these circumstances?
  • 30. Responding to slavery in the supply chain
    • Resolution of forced labour and worst forms of child labour requires a coalition of government, civil society, trades unions and business
    • Business has a role that is unique and not generally replicable by other actors:
      • Reducing poverty and social exclusion through decent work
      • Identifying risk of forced labour on supply chain
      • Using economic power to leverage political change
      • Financing more comprehensive responses
      • Provision of safe, non-discriminatory workplaces
  • 31. However no-one has all the answers
    • Causes of forced labour arise from complex social dynamics
      • Might be taken-for-granted by local management and hence neither realised nor addressed
      • Unscrupulous suppliers may use coercion in order to force labour from vulnerable workers
      • May require a social development response (not generally a business expertise)
    • Hence - need for a dialogic process to develop new responses involving the whole range of actors (government, business, trades unions and civil society)
  • 32. Conclusions
    • Many of the fundamental questions (e.g. tension between regulation and growth) regarding business in society are unanswered, and perhaps unanswerable…
    • … but establishing key ethical principles and reflexive leadership practices is fundamental to beginning a dialogue on the subject
    • This is a challenge that you will be faced with, whether your like it or not
  • 33.
    • Are you clear how you will act?