Friday, August 26, 2011

Ethics in the Workplace

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The term ethics, when applied to the workplace, admonishes people having close working relationships to aspire to conduct business in the most applicable manner and to strive to overcome all sorts of acts that may hinder productivity, diminish respect and dignity, and spearhead moral degradation. Ethics, in simple terms, is defined as distinguishing right from wrong. In our lifetime, we encounter various unethical issues committed by people of all ranks, with differing color and creed, religion and origin. Ethical issues in the workplace can best be observed by following the ethical codes of conduct established for each and every office. They are rules and regulations that act and guide the material and moral principles of employees and employers.

One burning scandalous issue that gripped the imagination of the global media has been the much-publicized Halliburton Scandal in which officials from the mega-corporation overcharged the United States Department of Defense (DOD) during the Iraq War after securing a $7 billion contract in Iraq to supply fuel. Former Vice-President of the United States Dick Cheney, who was CEO of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000, finally stepped down after receiving $34 million as compensation (Guardian, 2004). Halliburton is considered to be the second biggest oilfield services corporation in the world and has over 70 operations worldwide.

The company’s corporate policy regarding sensitive transactions states “The Company will conduct its business in compliance with applicable Law (See Corporate Policy 3-0001 with respect to conflicts between United States Law and the Law of another country) and requires all Company Directors and Employees to avoid any activities which could involve the Company in any unlawful practice” (Halliburton, 2003). Even though it is stipulated in its policy, Halliburton leaders saw no problem breaking the law when it came to defrauding its own government.

Founded by Erle Halliburton in 1919, the energy corporation has remained in the spotlights of global and national controversies with officials reaping with impunity. In a well documented testimony, Bunnatine Greenhouse, an employee of Halliburton complained to army officials about the preferential treatment given to Halliburton in the Balkans, Kuwait, and Iraq. Her involvement in the investigations led her to be demoted. Halliburton did harm to its credibility by overcharging the same government that gave it contractual rights to extract oil from Iraq in the aftermath of the invasion. With help from corrupt government officials, the mega-corporation emerged the only entity to have exclusive rights to exploit Iraq’s abundant black gold. Despite the scandal and public outcry, Halliburton escaped unscathed from every scandal including the killing of three of its unarmed security guards who were indiscriminately gunned down by insurgents in Iraq after an Improvised Explosive Device or IED unexpectedly ripped apart the armored vehicle they were travelling in. Harrowing images of the shooting was captured on film by a lone survivor and shown to the world.

References

Frederickson, H. G. (1999), Ethics and the New Managerialism: An Interactive Journal 4(2), 299–324. Retrieved from http://www.spaef.com/file.php?id=1103

David, Teather (February 18, 2004), Halliburton Suspends Bills for Army Meals, World News, The Guardian, London. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/feb/18/iraq.usa

Corporate Policy (2003), Halliburton Company & Subsidiary Companies, Retrieved from
http://www.halliburton.com/AboutUs/default.aspx?pageid=2326&navid=976
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