• Workplace

    Business Ethics with Covid

    Thu Dec 10 2020
    . 3 min read

    It goes without saying that in 2020, Covid-19 has impacted pretty much every area of our lives. It means we don’t have dinners out with friends anymore. We don’t go to concerts or the movies or Broadway shows. Most of us are working from home for the foreseeable future. But what about how we do business? 

    Hongwei He and Lloyd Harris have published an in-depth article about how Covid is expected to impact businesses worldwide. Their summation is as follows

    Covid-19 poses challenges to firms and organizations with regard to CSR. It has been reported that some firms/retailers have tried to profiteer from this crisis…in the UK, for example, its competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), set up a special taskforce to crack down on companies profiting from the pandemic by inflating prices or making misleading claims about products (Butler, 2020a, Butler, 2020b). Inevitably this crisis has put companies under test for [their] commitment to ethical business conduct... Some may argue that the financial strains, both short-term and long-term, caused by the outbreak could significantly push firms to pursue short-term gains, sometimes even through fraud and misconduct, and reduce long-term CSR investment, probably due to lack of slack resources and mounting pressure for survival.

    In other words, just like there are gas stations that will artifically inflate gas prices after a disaster, there are companies that have tried to profit from the global panic caused by coronavirus. Most countries have set up watchdog groups to monitor for this exact scenario to protect consumers. There will always be businesses that attempt to circumvent ethics to raise their bottom line – especially in a situation where consumers’ buying habits are drastically altered in a very short period of time.

    Since we are still in the midst of rising Covid-19 numbers, it will likely take years before the full impact of coronavirus on businesses is known. In the meantime, we can hope that the watchdog groups are successful in blocking dishonest business practices that aim to take advantage of consumers.