Abercrombie and Fitch Problem
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It is obvious that there is a problem that needs to be solved ethically. The company argues that its policy is based on its desire to increase sales while the complainants argue that they have a right to be employed regardless of their looks, religion or looks. The best solution is the one that would address the needs both the parties concerned with minimum or no harm to the parties. This is because the company has a right to employ policies that will maximize profits while the complainants have the right to be employed provided they are qualified regardless of their looks. Generally, there are many ethical theories applied by various organizations in solving issues that confront them. The theories are aimed at helping decision makers arrive at the best solutions to various problems based on the consequences of actions or some laid down principles. Three theories will be applied in solving the Abercrombie and Fitch problem. The theories include utilitarianism theory, Kantian ethics and the ethical egoism theory.
Utilitarianism theory. The basic ethical principle applied by this theory is of weighing consequences and hence determining how each person involved in the issue will be affected. The theory aims at deciding on a morally right action that results in the biggest overall good for everyone. Biz covering.com argues that “If a decision taken would result in more overall good than bad, then it should be taken. On the other hand, if a decision leads to more harm than good, then it needs to be avoided. In solving the problem at hand, a business needs to carry out a cost benefit analysis so that the most cost effective decision is taken”.
In this case, the decision to hire people based on looks is good to the company because it results in increased sales and consequently more profits. However, there are costs involved in that the company has had to pay millions of dollars in suits accusing the company of unlawful discrimination. Though the company’s image may improve in the short run, the company needs to consider the effect of its hiring policy in the long run. After all the people discriminated against are also part of its market. If the overall benefit outweighs all this costs, then the company should go on with this discriminative policy. Based on this theory, the company needs to come up with a policy that will as well take care of the less attractive employees. For example, the company can still hire them for departments that are less looks sensitive like accounting and management. In so doing, Brenkert argues that “the company will still increase its sales while still avoiding the unnecessary costs of handling legal suits”. The company will also spare its image in the long run (Brenkert 275).
Ethical egoism theory. According to Hasnas “This theory seeks to establish what is ethically right for someone”. As such something will only be right if it promotes the persons long term self interests. Abercrombie and Fitch Company could also apply this theory in solving the problem in question. In this case, the company will seek to undertake the action that will favor its financial performance not only now but also in the long run. In this case, the company will ignore the complains and continue with its discriminative employment policy. However, this is a selfish approach to decision making since the needs of the complainants will not be solved. The company will continue making huge sales and hence profits. However, most of these profits will go into settling legal suits leveled against it by the les attractive. Furthermore, the company may be eventually forced to close for not observing legal provisions on employment (Hasnas 265).
Decision based on Kantian ethics. This is one of the non-consequential theories. It’s derived from reasoning from the human nature. According to Boxall and Purcell “The theory calls for decision makers to act how they would like to be treated if the position of the parties involved were reversed”. As such, other people should be treated as ends in themselves and not just means. It is obvious that the management would not want to be discriminated against if the situation was to be reversed. In this case, the company ought to consider the plight of the complainants. In so doing, the company should come up with an employment policy that will not discriminate people based on their appearance. This will mean that the less attractive people will also be employed in the sales department by so doing, the company will not consider the effect that this will have on its volume of sales but its aim will be to treat the complainants fairly. However, this may have a negative effect on profits if at all sales are pegged on looks (Boxall and Purcell 162).
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