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Business Ethics and Responsibilities


The virtual race charity event, a commendable initiative organized by the parent company, aimed to foster camaraderie among member companies while contributing to a charitable cause. This event involved a two-week virtual race wherein participating companies sponsored the reason and competed by accumulating steps on connected stepper machines. Embedded within the narrative of this philanthropic endeavor lies a moral dilemma—a conflict presenting ethical implications. As the communications team responsible for promoting the event, I encountered a challenging decision-making scenario that prompted reevaluating the approach to incentivizing participation. This reflective exploration delves into the moral dilemmas the corporation and its employees faced during the virtual race charity event. This paper will focus on dissecting the decisions made, understanding the motivations behind them, and proposing strategies for rectification. This analysis aims to unravel the complexities surrounding corporate incentives for benevolence and employee engagement, emphasizing the significance of ethical considerations in business practices.

Corporate Dilemma

The company initially took up a good attitude in introducing the online race charity campaign. Together, the communications team disseminated the promotion pieces, urging other employees to participate in the race on a volunteer basis. It focused more on raising money for the charity event and creating awareness about living an active way of life. Nonetheless, participation continued to be minimal, and our company became the last in the list of member firms. As per the challenges of low participation, the leaders opted for a tactical change through monetary rewards. A decision was made to provide a $100 supermarket coupon for every 1,000 steps completed, with no cap on the maximum amount each colleague could receive. This decision proved highly effective, leading to a significant surge in participation. Colleagues enthusiastically queued up to use the stepper machine during office hours and оn weekends, propelling the company to a prominent position among the top 5 with over 1,100,000 accumulated steps.

The corporation was entangled in a moral dilemma centered on the conflict between encouraging benevolence and resorting to monetary incentives. The initial intent to promote a charitable cause voluntarily gave way to a scenario where employees were primarily motivated by financial gains rather than a genuine desire to contribute to the greater good. Time constraints and peer pressure further compounded the ethical predicament. Under pressure to swiftly ascend the rankings and demonstrate support for the group activity, the company succumbed to the temptation of immediate results. The fear of appearing inferior to other member companies in the race created a sense of urgency that influenced decision-making. Drawing from ethical principles discussed in lectures, the corporation’s actions can be scrutinized through relativism and teleology-utilitarianism. According to Johnson (2020), time and peer pressure fall under relativism, where external factors dictate ethical decisions. The management’s focus on achieving results aligns with teleology, emphasizing the consequences of actions.

A shift from a purely profit-centric approach to a Creating Shared Value (CSV) model is proposed to rectify this situation. Instead of relying solely on traditional Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which involves philanthropy and charity, CSV integrates social and environmental concerns into core business strategies (Sinthupundaja &Kohda, 2019). This approach aligns the company’s interests with the welfare of both employees and society. A reassessment of the incentive structure is crucial. Instead of a purely monetary focus, the company could incentivize participation by highlighting health benefits. Encouraging employees to join the race for a healthier lifestyle and incorporating top-down support from the management, perhaps by having the leadership team engage in the race, can foster a more intrinsic motivation. For the group company to organize future activities, measures should be taken by the involved parties to avoid intense competition among member companies. Considerations such as disclosing results data at specific intervals or sharing best practices among member companies can ensure a more collaborative and less competitive environment (Le, 2021). The factor aligns with the original intention оf the charitable activity. This approach promotes collective well-being over individual achievements.

Employee Dilemma

In understanding the employee dilemma, Kohlberg’s moral development provides a valuable framework. Employees’ motivation to participate in the virtual race charity event can be analyzed through Kohlberg’s stages. In this case, employees align with Stage 2, characterized by reward-seeking behavior at the pre-conventional level. The primary driver for their participation in the immediate monetary return rather than an intrinsic commitment to the charitable cause. Identifying this predominant stage is crucial as it reflects a self-interest-driven mindset (DeTienne et al., 2021). In Stage 2, individuals make decisions based on personal gain and reciprocity, reflecting a transactional approach to moral reasoning. The ideal scenario would involve employees progressing toward Stage 6, where universal ethical principles guide behavior, demonstrating a genuine commitment to the activity for its inherent value.

Examining the situation through the lens of ethical principles discussed in the studies reveals a misalignment with organizational values. The reliance on monetary incentives to motivate employees for charitable activities contradicts the notion of genuine corporate social responsibility (CSR) (Sipila et al., 2021). Rather than fostering a sense of social responsibility, the emphasis on individual gain reflects a departure from ethical ideals. To rectify the employee dilemma, There is a need for a fundamental shift in organizational culture. Moving from an apathetic to a caring culture involves fostering a sense of responsibility beyond individual interests. Recognizing the variation in employee conduct and identifying those who display high moral standards can serve as a starting point for building a more caring culture.

To instigate a cultural shift, the company should investigate the variations in employee conduct. The company can identify potential influencers by recognizing differences in motivation, such as distinguishing between employees seeking personal advantage and those adhering to formal ethical standards. The final 10%, those with high moral standards, can be engaged as ambassadors to influence their peers positively. According to depictions by Metwally et al. (2019), shaping culture is an ongoing process that requires consistency. Regular communication emphasizing the company’s purpose and values and actions aligning with these core values is essential. The company should be mindful of the messages it sends through incentives, ensuring they align with the desired cultural shift and ethical considerations. To truly integrate sustainability into business practices, long-term consistency is crucial. Shaping a caring culture requires continuous efforts to reinforce the importance of values and ethics (Adeleye et al., 2020). The phenomenon involves consistent messaging, leadership actions that exemplify these values, and a thorough evaluation of the impact of incentives on culture. By aligning actions with core values and fostering a caring culture, the company can rectify the current employee dilemma and create a sustainable framework for future endeavors. This approach moves beyond immediate gains to establish a foundation grounded in ethical considerations and long-term organizational well-being.

Ethical Concepts

The corporate dilemma observed in the virtual race charity event provides a lens through which decision-making and corporate culture can be scrutinized. The initial decision to incentivize participation with monetary rewards reflects a culture driven by immediate results and external pressures. This approach contrasts with a more ethical decision-making process considering the long-term impact on the company’s reputation and values. Small Lew (2021) states that corporate culture shapes decision-making. In this context, a shift from a profit-centric culture to one that values Creating Shared Value (CSV) is proposed. This aspect entails integrating social and environmental concerns into core business strategies fostering a culture where ethical considerations align with business objectives.

Ethics is integral to the fabric of any sustainable business. The virtual race charity event illustrates the consequences of prioritizing immediate gains over ethical considerations. Beyond the tangible impact on employee behavior, such decisions can erode trust, tarnish the company’s reputation, and undermine its long-term viability. An ethical framework is essential for navigating complex situations, ensuring that decisions align with the company’s values and societal expectations (Daradkeh, 2023). Incorporating ethics into business practices fosters stakeholder trust, contributes to a positive corporate image, and creates a foundation for sustainable growth.

Different moral theories can be used to explain the moral problems faced by the company and its workers. Utilitarianism, which focuses on doing the best for the most people, can explain why the company chose to get as many people as possible to support and participate in the charity event. However, the methods that depend significantly on financial rewards might be considered unethical. Suppose you believe in deontological ethics, which says people should follow moral rules and principles. In that case, you might not like how the company moves away from its original voluntary and kind behavior method and towards financial incentives. With virtue ethics, on the other hand, you would wonder if the company’s actions are in line with good traits like honesty and kindness. Ethics issues become even more critical in the global economy, where companies operate in places with different laws and cultures (Khokhar et al., 2023). Businesses find it hard to balance local and global ethical standards, as shown by the company’s choice to focus on quick results in response to peer pressure. Businesses that dо business worldwide have to deal with different cultural views on ethics and corporate social responsibility. In some situations, short-term gains may be more important than long-term sustainability and societal effects. However, for global ethics to be upheld, we need to take a more comprehensive approach that thinks about these things.

Originally planned to raise money for a good cause, the virtual race now serves as a social media event that draws attention to how commercial practices and sustainable development intersect. There are doubts regarding the sincerity of the company’s dedication to social responsibility in light of the move towards financial incentives. Businesses must adopt practices that generate long-term beneficial effects to align with sustainable development goals (Zimon et al., 2020). A move to Creating Shared Value (CSV) would show that you care about making a difference in the world by incorporating environmental and social issues into your company’s daily operations. This process would be an outstanding social contribution to sustainable development. Overall, the virtual race charity event’s ethical themes highlight the significance of aligning business practices with values, thinking about the long-term effects, and putting the company’s and society’s well-being first. In order to promote sustainable development and uphold ethical standards in the global economic arena, it is crucial to include ethical considerations in decision-making and company culture.


Looking back at the virtual race charity event brings the corporation’s and its workers’ moral dilemma to light. The fine line between business goals and ethical concerns was laid bare when the focus shifted from voluntary and altruistic involvement to implementing financial incentives. Examining ethical concepts in decision-making, corporate culture, and global business practices underscores the vital role of ethics in shaping responsible and sustainable business conduct. The virtual race charity event is a microcosm, highlighting the repercussions of prioritizing short-term gains over ethical values. The proposed rectification strategies, including the adoption of Creating Shared Value (CSV), a reconsideration of incentive design, and the cultivation of a caring organizational culture, carry the potential to realign business practices with ethical principles. Beyond addressing the immediate dilemmas, these strategies can instigate a cultural shift, fostering a more sustainable and ethically grounded approach to corporate engagement in philanthropic activities. As businesses grapple with complex decisions, it becomes increasingly evident that ethical considerations safeguard the company’s integrity and pave the way for a future where corporate success harmonizes with societal well-being.


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