Advantage and disvantages of social media like Facebook, Twitter in promoting ethical behavior

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Advantage and disvantages of social media like Facebook, Twitter in promoting ethical behavior

Social media as a key channel to communicate the corporate social responsibility events to the stakeholders

The first modern definition of corporate social responsibility was elaborated in 1953 by R. Bowen (Garriga & Mele 2004), who concluded that social responsibility refers to a businessman’s duties, particularly when conducting corporate policy, making decisions and pursuing activities that are desirable in term of social values and goals (Carroll 1999). Based on this definition, the major content of the corporate social responsibility behaviors are regarding protecting the social value and goals by making company’s own decisions. Therefore, such events are actually not merely involving the stockholders and management of the company, but also the other interest groups as well as other stakeholder who may not have direct economic interest on the company’s business practices. In this point, we can see that some stakeholders may not be under pressure or have any strong necessity and reasons to monitor the company’s such corporate social responsibility behaviors at all time.

Take Wal-Mart as an example,  as known to us that the company being an efficient and profitable business and being a good steward of the environment have their own environmental goals to be strived for. And these environmental goals at Walmart are simple and straightforward:

  • To be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy;
  • To create zero waste;
  • To sell products that sustains people and the environment (walmartstores.com 2012).

In it websites we can see a lot of so call “Sustainability Events” that have been made known to the public in term of dividing a theme page reporting the corporate sustainability performance. In addition to this, the company also has its annual “Global Responsibility Report” which uses a structure form to demonstrate the corporate social responsibility and provide the stakeholders a chance to look into business ethics, guiding principles, commitment to the environment, and other related performance.

But one question that may arise here concerning the visiting of such pages is that how many customers or visitors to the websites would be go to the pages directly to retrieve such information that has weak relationship with their own direct interests? Especially among the people living in the cities, they might be less willing to do so because life has already been busy enough. Hence, the company even as big and as influential like Wal-Mart has to use promotion channels to communicate their corporate social responsibility behaviors to the stakeholders since many of the social media users become fans of the company in term of facebook or other similar websites are actually sign up to get updated about the promotion information such as the “daily low price” activities, hence the usage of the social media could at the same time broadcast its CSR behavior information to promote its CSR image to the large scale of stakeholders.

 

Social media as a windows to promote the corporate value

Similar to the CSR behaviors, no many customers, suppliers and other stakeholder groups would have strong interests to learn the corporate value, beliefs and cultures, in particular the do not have a case study or MBA assignment to do, any company has to actively and proactively promote its corporate value, beliefs and cultures to these stakeholders.

For example, Jack Ma who is the founder, chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group is already an influential character in the E-business industry by operating China’s largest B2C platform, the Taobao.com, many of his speech or decisions making had been reported in the newspapers and other traditional media channels, and these reporting actually become part of the company’s value and stories. But even a CEO as famous as Jack Ma could not stay in the newspaper’s front page at all times not to mention those who are not famous in the society, companies need to have its own channel to promote the corporate value, in this point, the social media provide just a very good window to promote the corporate value and beliefs to the stakeholders.

Advantages of social media in promoting the company’s image as being an ethical social citizen

Instant connection between the audience and the companies

The first advantage that the current popular social media channels such as the Facebook, Twitter and other similar channels have is the instant connection and communication between the audience and the companies who disseminate the information regarding the business ethics behaviors and events through these social media channels. Thanks to the internet technologies and the portable devices related technologies such as Wifi, GPRS connection and mobile broadband and so on, updated information in these social media website could be received within several seconds since the broadcasting in these websites.

Large scale audience and increasing popularity in the young people

Not only our perception but also scientific and systematic research have both suggest that the social media have a large audience base and also they receive an increasing popularity in particular among the young people. For example, according to a study carried out in 2010 by University of Maryland, American college students are “addicted” to the instant connections and information afforded by social media. According to researchers, students describe their feelings when they have to abstain from using media in literally the same terms associated with drug and alcohol addictions: in withdrawal, frantically craving, very anxious, extremely antsy, miserable, jittery, and crazy. In the study, University of Maryland researchers conclude that most college students are not just unwilling, but functionally unable to be without their media links to the world (psychcentral.com 2010). Since the US has been leading such cultural changes, we can see that there is an increasing popularity or reliance on the social media in particular among the young age groups who are more acceptable to the new things, the enlarging social media users make the social media a critical channel and make them advantageous and effective to be utilized as a way to promoting any company’s image as being an ethical social citizen

Attractive way of new release and image shaping

Another advantage of the social media is that they use elements such as image, flash and video and any other form of communication rather than dull reporting to deliver a company’s new which make such delivery become more attractive and effective, that is probably why at the beginning of 2011, Goldman Sachs announced it was investing $450m (£290m) into the social-networking company Facebook (bbc.co.uk 2011). Many companies have been following up such strategy to attract more readers to the company’s CSR news.

Disadvantages of social media in promoting the company’s image as being an ethical social citizen

Inability to have in depth communication and fact demonstration

One major disadvantage of the social media is that it provide a simple and attractive way of communication but such communication channel can’t provide contents and fact that are with in depth understanding of the fact because people are only attractive by short stories and reporting with fun. Hence, though Dorie Clark of the Huffington Post reports Facebook users spend about six hours each month on the site, while social networkers spend three times as much time on those communities as they do on other online activities like email (lovetoknow.com 2011), social media somtimes act as a place for time consumption and place for fun rather than a place for serious discussion and fact reading and as a result it may not act as a very channel or CSR behavior and infomration demonstration and communication.

Question 3 (10 marks) 1400
Imagine that you are the CEO of a small manufacturing company. An employee has dumped toxic waste in a nearby stream. Who would you call into your office, and what would you want to know? Develop a short term and long term action plan for dealing with the crisis. Who would you communicate with and why?

Stakeholders to be called in and information to be obtained

Stakeholder in the business environment may refer to a person, group, organization, member or system who affects or can be affected by an organization’s actions (Wood 2010). As in the case described in the question, suppose that I am the CEO of a small manufacturing company and one of the employees has dumped toxic waste in a nearby stream, I will call in the below people to get different information.

First of all, I will call in the specialists in the company who could be familiar with such toxic materials to evaluate the emergency and seriousness of the toxic waste dumping. The obtainment of this information is very critical to help me to access how serious the event is and how influential the toxic material dumping could be and whom will be involved since the stream could be used by the local community as well as the users of the downstream if such toxic material could sustain or even could be enhanced in the water for a long period of time.

Secondly, I will call in the monitoring department head to check whether this supervising department has any information about this unethical event. As the head of the monitoring department, he or she should have spotted the event or at least or some signs of this event should have been caught by the department in particular when such toxic material dumping is not a standalone case and it is not happening for the first time. In addition, calling the monitoring official also provide the channel to get access to what is the penalty and punishment which is appropriate in this case by referring to the past experience which the monitoring official should have in mind.

Thirdly, I will call in the involved employee who had dumped the toxic material in the stream, to understand what the real reasons behind his or her individual behavior to dump the toxic material. There are several key information to be accessed by calling the involved employee. On one hand, I need to know whether this is a stand alone and independent case or it happens frequently and commonly within the company; also, I need to know whether this behavior is supported by the direct manager and also other departments have actually known about this; in addition I need to know whether the employee have the relative knowledge regarding the impact of the toxic dumping (whether he or she knows that such such material is toxic and the dumping of it could be harmful to the local community and the animals in the nature) and also he or she receives relevant training in the company’s training courses or not.

Short term action plan development

There are three major key actions to be done in the short term to reduce the effect of the toxic dumping and recover the company’s image.

First of all, I will order to form up a disaster rescue team to react rapidly to the toxic dumping. This rescue team will be led by me and made up of other senior managers from various functional departments as well as the professionals in handling the toxic dumping and disaster control.

Secondly, I will hold a press release and announce the event with full disclosure to the public and the together the evaluation of the damage to the public and the environment as well as the methods that have been adopted to control the water toxic. This is actually an ethical and moral requirement as well as an effective way to minimize and control the direct damage caused by the toxic dumping. In addition, being honest is the basic attitude that our company should have in dealing with such serious events that have potential severe damage to the public and the environments.

Thirdly, we will inform the relative government departments and environmental organizations to get involved in this case to utilize their professional knowledge and talents to control this toxic dumping as well and enacting a comprehensive plan to eliminate the short term and long term damage to the local community as well as to the nature.

Long term action plan development

Besides the short term and immediate actions needed to be taken to control the impacts of the toxic dumping, our company also need to have longer term plan to avoid the happening of the similar case in the future and recover our company’s image as a good and responsible social citizen.

There are several major tasks to be done.

First of all, training of the related knowledge such as the impacts of the certain toxic material that might appear in the company as well as the company’s value for the corporate social responsibilities should be done regularly the remind the employees that the company is not encouraging the dumping behaviors which are harmful to the public as well as to the environment.

Secondly, I will hold the museum and park visiting to make the employees familiar with the environmental protection as well as the goodness to have a clean and sustainable environment. Such activities will get the employees with the real touch with the consequences that their convenient dumping could have led to.

Communication with stakeholders

The first group of stakeholders that communication needs to be done with are the employees in our company to inform them the happening of this event and at the same time clearly state our company’s policy towards such dumping; the secondly group of stakeholders are the management of the company and inform them to strengthen the monitoring of similar cases and unethical behaviors; thirdly, as mentioned above the governmental departments and some environmental organizations would be informed and invited to take part in the handling of the toxic dumping; fourthly, the local community should also be communicated regarding the process of the disaster control as well as the following up long term plan to contribute to the recovery of the water quality.

 

 

Reference

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