8 min Read Time | April 27th 2022
Business Ethics aims to capture scandals that occurred over the past three years and have had a significant social or environmental impact.
The topic entails a significant breach in standards for morally right and wrong conduct in business. To capture the impact's value and scale, the analysis must demonstrate that the effect goes beyond government control regarding ethical conduct that causes significant harm. There should be clear proof of wrongdoings and direct impact.
It is essential to distinguish between ethics and impact. A corporate collapse or scandal which involves alleged or actual unethical behaviour may come at a cost that has broad social, political, economic, and environmental implications.
Common Unethical Business Practices include:
Hidden Terms in User Agreements
Trade Secret Misappropriation
Caution: You should only treat one topic per analysis, i.e., money laundering (impact example: corruption and weak institutions) & anti-competitive behaviour (impact example: job destruction).
Points to consider:
The analysis needs to demonstrate that the impact goes beyond just fines/lawsuits, causing significant harm, and is felt today.
Note that although this strays away from our previous guidelines on lawsuits, requiring clear court rulings and differentiating between ethics and impact, there comes the point where the effect is so significant that we should be reactive and capture it if we are sure that the claims are legitimate.
We do, however, require clear proof of wrongdoings, but it does not have to be through clear court rulings, as you will see in the key example.
Context: The analysis is about nursing home abuses, including neglect, malnutrition, and physical and verbal abuse. Intentional or unintentional, these abuses can result in trauma, health complications, or even death.
Allegation: In a recent scandal, Orpea was alleged to be mistreating its residents.
The impact is significant: It was reported that it underwent a "special treatment" system for prominent clients while rationing diapers & food to the rest7. An employee disclosed that the management in one of the facilities ordered them to provide residents with no more than three diapers per day, despite paying over €6,288 monthly (~3x the charge in Europe (€2,160))7,11. A family of a deceased former Orpea resident disclosed to have observed several fractures & bruises on their mother while she was in the care home8.
Evidence of impact: Orpea denies all claims in a press release in early 2022 while also dismissing its CEO, Mr. Yves Le Masne9;p1,10;p1. With the possibility of being aware of the situation, Mr. Le Masne sold €590,000 of stock when a Journalist questioned him on July 20217,8. At the time he sold his shares, the prices were at €107.85 high, & since the scandal, it has dived down to €408. Before these accusations, another investigation into Orpea revealed that it was using "irregular employment contracts" at its facilities in France3.
This topic is separated could also be about the following sub-topics:
Here is the document to submit your proposals, either on Business Ethics, Money Laundering, Bribery, and Anti-Competitive Behaviour:
This topic will not be offered on the Topic Selector as it is not relevant for all companies and would have to go through an approval process by the internal team.
Why proposals can get rejected:
If the company has changed its practices and management, meaning that the impact is no longer felt today, then the scandal cannot be written about.
Avoid proposing topics that would lead to duplicate analyses. Always double-check the company page to avoid double-counting and getting your proposal rejected.
Any issue with no clear impact should not be proposed as we need tangible and concrete impact (job destruction, health issues, environmental harm, etc.). It should not be about breaching protocols or getting a fine when there is no significant impact.
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