Ethics is often thought of as a question of personal scruples of the organization/entrepreneur. However, the reality is far from that. Organizations that shy away from providing a decisive leadership that believes in facilitating an ethical environment for the conduct of business dealings knowingly profits from corporate misdeeds.
The Corona Virus pandemic has unfortunately swamped almost the entire world to the human-made disaster. The medical distress that the nation all across the world are facing has also spurred the growth to numerous ethical dilemmas, which makes it essential in many ways to respond scrupulously to it.
Corona virus has given businesses a chance to introspect and rework on their relationship with the societies. The crisis has made this very evident that the organizations need to be more proactive in their approach to strengthening ethical cultures. It is pertinent that we have an ethical framework in place which engages in the promotion, protection and provision for health and well-being of all residents in the community.
Taking in view the current state of affairs, it should be understood that how in times of such Impasse the mechanism of business ethics works in close collaboration amongst the society. This blog narrows its focus mainly on the workings of SME (short and medium enterprises). These SMEs have a profound and deep impact on the economy of developing countries.
It is a time of societal and economic turmoil and thus calls for greater responsibility by each of the citizens. Undoubtedly, most economies have laid down a clear set of instructions articulating ethical policies. However, there are still some professionals too tied up in their knots.
As soon as the news of first-person being tested positive for Corona Virus came out in open, panic and fear crept in the minds of the public. Naturally, the demand for sanitizers and masks escalated. To make the most of this situation, were some agencies which doubled the price of these products to make profits, much to the horror of society at large. The consumers mostly from the middle /upper-middle/high strata of the society did not mind buying these even at a premium price. However, those who could not afford the prices of these products had to go with some makeshift arrangements.
The products such as masks and sanitizers were also hoarded by few manufacturers and dealers in order to create a scarcity like situation in the society and then sell at an escalated price. This somehow seems to be a severe lapse in ethical decision making by these business persons. Every situation cannot be utilized for profit making. It was also observed that not only were sanitizers unavailable but also the spurious and counterfeit sanitizers were supplied in the market to earn some quick money. The unaware consumers bought these bogus products assuming them to be real ones. This has put many the lives of many people in danger by exposing them to the dreaded virus.
In fact, it is not just the medical products that were hoarded, but even the grocery items and essential items such as rice, cooking oil, wheat flour, and pulses were hoarded by traders. This again was done with same objective of earning profits at an escalated price. The traders are also grabbing the opportunity by neck and stashing up essential commodities and later on releasing, and subsequently selling at higher prices. This is all done under the pretext of unavailability and procurement of goods at increased cost.
In addition to that, the fulcrum of any workplace is its employees and till the time this realization does not seep into the minds of promoters, the notion of sustainable and ethical development becomes a far-fetched reality. During the times of COVID -19 when most of the organizations were practicing social distancing, there were many Business houses which made it mandatory for their employees to report for work, before the orders of lockdown were passed by the government. This shows complete disregard by the employers of the health and well-being of their employees. This however, was practiced mostly by the small and medium enterprises.
The main objective of any business is to earn profits ethically. In the current scenario a promoter has to deal with the vagaries of external environment in order to carry out his day to day operations. An amicable solution needs to be arrived where the interests of business men and ethical issues do not conflict. The marriage between ethics and profit is one of the loftiest ideas that the business houses often fail to achieve. While trying to mitigate losses they end up on compromising on the ethics and values of the organization, though not wholly but more often partially.
The promoters of these SMEs have undoubtedly been the victim of this pandemic as well. It would not be an exaggeration to state that they are also one of the worst hit groups of the COVID -19. Moreover, the restrictions imposed by the government have also put them in a very tight spot. The directive of the government relating to continuation of payment of salaries to the employee and restriction on the layoffs has made the matters worse when the revenues are zero.
If challenging times places a big question mark on the sustainability of the business itself, it is natural that the ethics of the people in charge takes a backseat. Therefore, it is recommended that the government needs to frame some policies which provides the aid to these SMEs. The government needs to ease the burden of these entrepreneurs so that their businesses do not crumble under the intense pressure caused by the Corona Crisis. The government is protecting its citizens but if the Entrepreneurs of any nation remains disgruntled the purpose of “Jaan Bhi Jahan bhi” (a slogan coined by Indian Government that promises to protect life as well as society) dies a natural death.