Consequences. It is a reaction to a potential negative response. Individuals and companies as well as institutions are held to standards that when broken result in consequences. The term consequences can have both negative and positive connotations. For the purpose of the discussion we will focus on negative consequences. All people have a point in their lives in which they are forced to weigh the ethical dilemma of potential negative consequences in light of a perceived reward. At times, that reward may be at the perceived risk of negative consequences. As children, the rules and standards that are set before us at a given time are put to the test by a real-life event. This test can fluctuate, but a real life example could consist of a child being placed in a situation where they can get away with committing an act that goes against moral standards that have been set before them. However, limited authority and enforcement can place them in the situation in which they can get away with breaking rules with perceived minimal consequence. A child is outside of a store and placed in front of a large display of brand new bikes. The store has closed and one of the bikes was not locked up properly. The child is alone and it appears that if they took the bike there would be nobody to catch them. At this point the child reflects on their experiences and boundaries that have been set by authority figures in their life. After much reflection the child decides against their impulse to steal the bike and adheres to the ethical and moral standards their parents and society has imposed upon them. Within the larger scheme of things business’ and corporations make such decisions on a much more grand scale. The choices that are made impact a much larger amount of people and create a marketplace in which the consumer can trust or distrust the institutions that it purchases goods or services from.
Open communication is a very important to the success of any relationship including that relationship that exists between the consumer and the organization or company. In the past a company has had an outbreak of varying illnesses due to a tainted piece of meat. Other companies have had foreign objects injected into particular over the counter medication. These companies had a costly decision to make. The potential logistics of admitting wrong-doing and also the consequences of recalling a large amount of inventory will result in a large amount of capital and profit lost. The effects of such decisions to recall and be transparent are felt immediately within a company. A loss of capital and profit can lead to significant ripple effects throughout a company. These effects can lead to serious cut-backs that include human capital, salary cuts, benefits cuts, and advertising cuts. However, the reaction to such an event can have ample effects on the future business of a company. If a company has a potential negative incident that consists of food products that are tainted with illnesses this is a major problem. However, there are other ethical and moral dilemmas even more pressing than the current issue. That company must make a choice to be transparent on other incidents that may not have been as widely publicized. Does a company use those given incidents to display their depth of shortcomings? It is a difficult question to answer and has gone both ways throughout the history of modern commerce. These types of incidents are reflective of the mission statement and the overall image that a company wants to be perceived as. If a company uses these errors or negative instances as an opportunity to display a transparent and honest image, they can transform themselves for future business. If an organization chooses to merely admit wrongdoing of the initial set-back, let’s say with meat products, and recall the tainted food and openly communicate this action to the public they have done some good. However, let’s say there are bigger problems, such as a cultural problem that include many violations that have not been communicated to the general public, they have an opportunity to be transparent and disclose such information. This initiates a moral and ethical standard shift which respects both the consumer, the employees, and the general well-being of society.
Silence in the midst of turmoil is a dilemma that we all face at one time or another in our lives as well as business. The general depth at which we respect one another as a consumer, as an individual, and as a society are at question when this decision is made. Silence in the midst of dangerous situations can be catastrophic, and can potentially cost a great deal to the individual that is being silent. However, we cannot underestimate the value at taking responsibility both for the positive and negative decisions that are made as individuals and as a company. If a company decides to be 100% transparent and open the lines of communication to the general public they are in return potentially setting the groundwork for a company that will have future returns on their image of trust to the general public. Invoking an image of trust will create an image that exhibits strong moral and ethical character which in turn could lead to profits, higher prices, and brand loyalty amongst consumers.