Business Ethics of Saudi Aramco, Toyota, and BP
In the 21st century, the business landscape across various industries has undergone major transformations. Previously, the operational activity of large enterprises revolved around the generation of increased profits, thus focusing on the economic aspect of their work. Nevertheless, the current environment dictates the necessity of a global paradigm shift. More specifically, the role of the corporation as a driver of social development, resilience, and sustainability has been increasingly recognized by the global community. In this regard, the concepts of corporate social responsibility and business ethics are placed in the spotlight. These ideas suggest that successful businesses that profit from communities should return the favor by contributing to their safety and developing them. This report aims at outlining the concept of business ethics as a point of intense interest while adding a practical dimension to the discussion by reviewing the cases of such Fortune 500 companies as Saudi Aramco, Toyota, and BP.
The Overview of Business Ethics
The area of business ethics has attracted the interest of experts and researchers across the globe. It is usually discussed in relation to high-scale, international corporations that manage billions of dollars. From an average consumer’s perspective, such financial capabilities suffice to instill meaningful changes in a global sense. The issues of social inequality and climate change represent society’s most pressing concerns today, which is why business ethics are often associated with them. Latapi Agudello et al. (2019) provide a comprehensive overview of business ethics, as well as the related concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR). According to them, these notions “have a long and varied history” (para. 1). Across this history, CSR has tended to reflect the social and political environments that increasingly permeate the domain of economic activities. The instance of major turbulence within this sphere has inevitably affected the perception and functioning of key players of their respective industries. According to Latapi Agudello et al. (2019), the first cases of academic literature discussions related to CSR date back to the 1930s. As society evolved, new issues came to light, thus directly affecting the ethical expectations of businesses.
However, recent years have been characterized by increased attention to corporate social responsibility. In a way, this tendency is associated with the technological progress that facilitated the exchange of information worldwide. Major companies and their actions are observed by stakeholders in real time, which places them under public scrutiny. Such observations have raised reasonable questions regarding the corporations’ preparedness to give back to the society that ensured their profits (Latapi Agudello et al., 2019). Furthermore, increased attention is paid to the authenticity of the CSR-related efforts. He and Harris (2020) note that the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a foundation for companies to take genuine steps toward ethical and responsible business practices. Such major crises highlight society’s vulnerable spots, which can and should be addressed by thriving businesses. This way, a sense of solidarity and unity is created, ensuring positive relations between corporations and communities.
Saudi Aramco is one of the leading petrochemical companies on a global scale, leading the industry in the Middle East. The company traces its history from the year 1933, when the concession agreement was signed between Standard Oil and Saudi Arabia (Saudi Aramco, 2021a). Since then, Saudi Aramco has expanded its network of petrochemical operations across the country and abroad, building a strong and resilient corporation. On its website, Saudi Aramco (2021b) emphasizes the importance of healthy workplace culture. Within the company’s ethical frameworks, increased attention is devoted to the occupational safety and social resilience of its employees. Alnuaim (2019), being Saudi Aramco’s employee, confirms this stance, positively evaluating the company’s efforts to promote inclusiveness and engage with communities in a meaningful way. For him, corporate social responsibility is the pride of today’s petrochemical industry.
Toyota represents another interesting case of a large company that maintains a global presence. This corporation originated in Japan and celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2021 (Toyota, 2021a). Across its abundant history, Toyota focused on manufacturing reliable automobiles that reflected the latest technological advancements. The company recognizes the detrimental impact of its industry on the environment, which is why its ethical practices are centered on sustainability. Since 2005, Toyota (2021b) has pursued its Contribution toward Sustainable Development policy in light of the company’s relations with its stakeholders. The main principles of it comprise the reduction of the carbon footprint by optimizing the production process in terms of its energy consumption and materials used. Furthermore, Toyota (2021b) increases the share of electric cars in its offers, thus supporting the global tendency. This way, it is a vivid example of a company capable of evaluating the impact of its industry and making meaningful efforts to mitigate it.
A similar perspective is taken by BP, one of the world’s largest petroleum companies. Its history is long and complicated, as BP (2021a) was one of the pioneers of oil extraction and processing since 1908. Following a century of sustained growth, BP offers a selection of quality petroleum products on a worldwide scale. Similar to Toyota, this corporation realistically evaluates its impact on the environment. As a sign of corporate social responsibility, BP sets sustainability of the business as its key priority of the short-to-mid term. By 2050, the company expects to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions to zero through the use of advanced processing technology (BP, 2021b). Next, the company actively promotes various programs that contribute to the health, safety, and well-being of the communities in which it operates. By supporting diversity, equality, and inclusion, BP builds strong links with society.
Comparison of Business Ethics
As shown by the investigation of practical cases, ethical business practices take different forms. In this regard, there are two key aspects that form the unity of corporate social responsibility. From one perspective, modern businesses emphasize the importance of strong, equal, and resilient societies. They engage in community support programs, promoting positive values and improving the quality of life of the people. This point is the priority of Saudi Aramco that especially emphasizes the value of employee safety and comfort. The second component of CSR revolves around environmentally-friendly practices that reduce the global impact of the company’s work. Toyota approaches the matter at hand from this particular side, devoting many resources and efforts to sustainable business practices (Bakhouche, 2017). Simultaneously, BP seeks to encompass both aspects by valuing social responsibility and sustainable operations equally.
Overall, the ideas of business ethics and corporate social responsibility are not recent inventions. However, while the discussions commenced nearly a century ago, CSR only became a global priority in the 21st century. As enabled by the enhanced communication opportunities, the public has become increasingly aware of large corporations’ values and practical actions. As such, major players of different industries seek to secure a positive image in the eyes of the stakeholders. Nevertheless, only genuine and authentic attempts to practice CSR are acknowledged by the public. Such policies usually comprise environmental protection and social awareness. Ultimately, business ethics recognize the potential of large companies in terms of promoting positive values and contributing to the well-being of the global community.
Alnuaim, S. (2019). Corporate Social Responsibility – A Source of Industry Pride. Journal of Petroleum Technology, 71(7), 10-11.
Bakhouche, M. (2017). Environmental dimension of Corporate Social Responsibility -Case study of Toyota company-. Dirassat Journal: Economic Issue, 8(2), 317–331.
BP. (2021a). What we do.
BP. (2021b). Sustainability.
He, H., & Harris, L. (2020). The impact of Covid-19 pandemic on corporate social responsibility and marketing philosophy. Journal of Business Research, 116, 176-182.
Latapi Agudello, M. A., Johansdottir, L., & Davidsdottir, B. (2019). A literature review of the history and evolution of corporate social responsibility. International Journal of Corporate Social Responsibility, 4, 1.
Saudi Aramco. (2021a). Our history.
Saudi Aramco. (2021b). Social Responsibility.
Toyota. (2021a). History of Toyota.
Toyota. (2021b). CSR policy.
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