Ethics in business

Discuss the ethical dilemmas in the scenarios below using a suitable framework (clearly
labelled) and give advise on the best course of action to be taken. Where you are uncertain
about any information you must consider any relevant possibilities and comment on them.

(i) The investor would like to start selling a new weight loss product called SLIM-ME. There is
no scientific evidence that the SLIM-ME actually works and some doctors have raised the
concern that taking SLIM-ME can lead to heart disease in the long term. A commissioned
study of the ingredients of SLIM-ME found that it contained two main ingredients: caffeine
and a new chemical with properties similar to another drug called sibutramine. The company
manufacturing SLIM-ME have developed a very sophisticated marketing campaign and are
using well known TV stars to advertise SLIM-ME. A few websites that contained negative
information on SLIM-ME and reports of possible deaths from taking SLIM-ME were attacked
and taken down, therefore, there are very few negative online references to SLIM-ME. The
investor attended a special workshop for businesses wishing to sell SLIM-ME and was
informed that the manufacturing company would market SLIM-ME as the new wonder drug
and that they had numerous online agents writing great reviews on discussion sites. No
scientific studies of the effectiveness of SLIM-ME were given and the company insisted that
SLIM-ME was 100% safe. All potential sellers were offered 50% of the profits for all sales of
SLIM-ME through their website which retails at £99 for a one week’s supply. The
manufacturing company will only ship SLIM-ME directly to customers from their factory in
Mexico. The manufacturing company’s spokesman joked that weight loss drugs was the
fastest way to make money. The investor calculated that selling SLIM-ME would add a
substantial amount of income to his weekly profits, however he is concerned that SLIM-ME
may not be as effective as it is marketed to be, and also that it may not be safe in the long
(ii) The investor would like to import supplies of a sports supplement for weight training called
ONTop made in a South American country called Frazil. The cost price (from the
manufacturers) for ONTop is considerably cheaper than similar products sold in the UK. The
investor has already obtained permission to import ONTop into the UK. It is rumoured that
ONTop contains similar ingredients to another well-known weight training supplement. The
investor estimates that he can put a 500% mark-up on the cost price of ONTop and make
enormous profits. A few weeks ago, however, the investor read a report from an international
organisation stating that Frazil had the worse working conditions of all countries in the world
– workers had poor housing, suffered from stress, were continually exploited and that child
labour was rampant. The investor decide to visit the manufacturing plant in Frazil. During his
visit, he was surprised to learn that most of the workers earned the equivalent of £3 for an 8
hour day, that they were not allowed to have union representation and were not given paid
vacation time. There was also no pension scheme for workers. During his visit he saw many
different types of workers including some who looked very young and some who looked very
old. Generally the manufacturing plant looked very dirty and many of the workers were not
wearing any protective clothing to operate various types of equipment. The investor thinks
that selling ONTop will be of great benefit to his company but is concerned about
manufacturing standards in Frazil and also workers conditions.


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