Ethics & Leadership in the Business Environment - Essay Example

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In 2009 an article was published exposing the widespread use of slave labor in Dubai. Though slavery is generally considered to be reprehensible the world over, several accounts show that a much of Dubai’s recent economic and architectural growth was built on the backs of countless thousands of slave laborers…
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Ethics & Leadership in the Business Environment
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In 2009 an article was published exposing the widespread use of slave labor in Dubai. Though slavery is generally considered to be reprehensible the world over, several accounts show that a much of Dubai’s recent economic and architectural growth was built on the backs of countless thousands of slave laborers. Johann Hari spent some time in the city, gathering accounts of both the laborers and those who know of them and found that generally the authorities refuse to help the slaves and the slaves themselves feel their situation is hopeless (2009). With a growing standard of cheap slave labor and authorities looking the other way, businesses setting up shop in Dubai face the great temptation of using slave labor for their construction needs. Speaking strictly from a fiscal standpoint, businesses could certainly benefit from the use of slave labor. The cost of construction in a desert environment can quickly become astronomical when taking into account the sheer number of workers needed, special accommodations to deal with the extreme heat, and so forth. Regardless of where a business establishes itself the phrase “time is money” abounds. The same truth applies in Dubai, particularly considering that a large portion of the local economy has sprung up over the last 30 years. In order for a business to capitalize on the economic boom, they must be able to establish themselves quickly. The trend of using slave labor in Dubai is both established and developing. Slaves have been used for construction jobs for the last few decades (Hari, 2009), and the threat remains that they will continue to be used. With authorities often refusing to step in and insist that workers be housed appropriately, paid on time (really, paid at all), and given proper care on work sites—including access to water, appropriately frequent breaks, etc—there is nobody and nothing preventing corporations from being able to continue to use slave labor. There is a saying that goes something like, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” The implication is that, in the absence of any authority taking responsibility to ensure that evil, or in this case unethical, behavior does not thrive then thrive it will. This is certainly the case in Dubai. The moral fabric of the city is eroding due to the unethical use of slave labor. Local government knows about the living and work conditions the laborers are forced to endure, and that government sometimes assists in the mistreatment of workers (Hari, 2009). No excuses may be made for the government, because their knowledge of the living conditions for workers is not theoretical. Local officials do not simply know that there are slaves living in Dubai. They know where the slaves live, that they are forced to remain in the country because their employers have taken their passports, and that housing for workers consist of cement bunkers housing 12 men to a room with no sewage system and tepid water (Hari, 2009). Perhaps worst of all, should any “employee” manage to escape from Dubai and make it back to their home country, authorities are there to track them down and arrest them for not paying their debts to their employers. The world should be made aware of the use of slave labor in Dubai. If outside authorities, governments from other countries, were aware of what is going on in this city, Dubai would be forced to change their ways. One may assume the change would be mandatory because of the negative view the rest of the world holds regarding slavery. Businesses would refuse to move to Dubai to avoid the negative publicity that would accompany such a move, causing the city’s economy to hit rock bottom. Considering the world is already facing a recession, Dubai would not be likely to continue any practice that would hurt their economic status. Another consideration that would likely assist Dubai in making some changes to their employment practices is that throughout history there has been a trend of use of slavery. However, as a nation develops into a modern institution, their practice of slavery is gradually or abruptly elimination. Presumably, the idea is that the nation uses the elimination of slavery as a sign of their civility. Should Dubai not be held accountable for their practices, and be allowed to continue their use of slave labor, the world may begin to see a reversal of trends. Where once a nation proved its civility by getting rid of slave use, Dubai may become seen as showing that rapid economic growth is built on the backs of slaves. When one considers the current economic state of various nations throughout the world, any practice that boosts the economy is likely to be viewed favorably, and has the potential to be emulated. The only real reduction in the use of slave labor comes from the economic leveling off that Dubai has experienced since the recession hit. Unfortunately, however, that reduction is counteracted by the use of slave labor to maintain buildings already built in the area. Also, the tax-free status Dubai offers to corporations is tempting enough to continue luring new businesses to the city. Each new business brings with it the need for new buildings. Even in a recession, slave laborers still have work to do. With all of the money that can be saved through the use of slave labor, every business that moves to Dubai is faced with the ethical decision of whether or not to employ those laborers. To hire these workers is to accept the living conditions they are forced to endure, to refuse good business practice of paying a fair wage, and to invite negative publicity should any publications discover that slaves are being used by the company. Yet these negatives are countered by the immense sums of money that can be saved through the use of slave labor. One may clearly see that businesses are looking hard at the bottom line the world over. The use of slave labor in Dubai, the temptation it presents and the people it hurts, is a serious situation and one that deserves further consideration. Hari, Johann. "The Dark Side of Dubai." Independent(2009): n. pag. Web. 12 May 2011. . Read More
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