Tesco Plc was established by Jack Cohen in the year 1919. It deals in products such as groceries, financial services, consumers’ goods and telecommunications. The company has over 492,000 employees and over 3,729 stores globally (Tesco Plc, 2011) …
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Being one of the leading retail chains in the global market, Tesco requires maintaining a sustainable position not only to gain competitive advantage but also to attain the corporate image of an ethically sound company.
This report is based on the ethical approach applied by Tesco and further intends to analyse the adopted strategies with the use of appropriate theories such as the theory of Utilitarianism, Kantian Ethics, and Virtue Ethics. For instance, the theory of Utilitarianism gives premium emphasis on the overall benefit of the organisation rather than the welfare of individual employees or customers or any stakeholder groups (Snoeyenbos & Humber, 2002). Similarly, the Kantian theory of business ethics consider treating the stakeholders as human beings with the necessity of contentedness rather than treating them as means to achieve organisational success (Bowie, 1999), while the Virtue ethics considers the fact that business enterprises are undividable from society and thus have to grow along with the growth of the society at large (Audi, 2011). Notably, these theories present their views from three distinct perspectives towards the managerial dilemma of business ethics for which these theories have been considered in this report. 2.0. Main Ethical Issues It is worth mentioning that business ethics is amongst the most significant and complex managerial concerns of a business in the 21st century context. Where a few theories suggest the sustainability strategies to be more inclined towards the overall benefit of the organisation such as in the case of Utilitarianism theory, other theories suggest taking into account the interests of the society (i.e. in the case of Virtue ethics) and stakeholders’ interests as individuals and social groups (i.e. in the case of Kantian theory) (Audi, 2011; Snoeyenbos & Humber, 2002; Bowie, 1999). Therefore, focusing on these distinct variables, it is quite likely that the organisations will have to face certain issues with concern to their business ethics which can also be observed in the operational strategies adopted by Tesco in recent times. A few of the noteworthy issues faced by Tesco, was the exploitation of child labour laws in developing countries, employment laws in Bangladesh, anti-discrimination laws in UK (Thompson, 2009; BBC, 2007; BBC, 2006; Guardian News and Media Limited, 2006). The company was also accused to breach competition laws in the year 2007 (Finch, 2005). The issues faced by Tesco and an apparent description of the concerned parties as well as reasons so as to justify why these have been termed as major issues have been presented in the table below. Ranking of Issues: Rank Issue Stakeholder Why? 1 Child labour Suppliers Tesco was accused to employ more than 200 child labours around the age group of 12 in its garment factories of Bangladesh in the year 2006 which was indeed a serious accusation causing the company to reshuffle its entire outlook so as to maintain its competitive position in the global market (Guardian News and
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