The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the ACS has 12 geographic Divisions, more than 900 local offices nationwide, and a presence in more than 5,100 communities.
The American Cancer Society's international mission concentrates on capacity building in developing cancer society’s and on collaboration with other cancer-related organizations throughout the world in carrying out shared strategic directions. As the largest voluntary health organization in the United States, the American Cancer Society is passionately committed to saving lives from cancer. We’re working to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays – a world where cancer never steals another year from anyone’s life. We combine our relentless passion with the wisdom of nearly a century of experience to make this vision a reality, and we get results. We save lives by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures, and fighting back.
Thanks in part to this work; nearly 14 million cancer survivors and countless others who have avoided the disease will celebrate another birthday this year. The ACS mission statement “The National Headquarters is committed to the responsible use of American Cancer Society assets in furtherance of its mission. We are committed to adhering to high standards of ethical conduct in all of our operations.
This includes a commitment to provide accurate and complete information, to exercise care and act in good faith, to comply with all laws, regulations and organizational policies, and to promote ethical behavior. The American Cancer Society culture is built on our commitment to our mission. We acknowledge our individual responsibility to ensure the American Cancer Society success by practicing and promoting the following values. These values reflect a shared view of how we wish to operate and be perceived by others.” (cancer.org)
The problems surrounding nonprofit organizations that I am going to explore are remaining transparent, acquiring donors, and hiring the right people. ExxonMobil is the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company. We hold an industry-leading inventory of global oil and gas resources. We are the world’s largest refiner and marketer of petroleum products, and our chemical company ranks among the world’s largest. We are also a technology company, applying science and innovation to find better, safer and cleaner ways to deliver the energy the world needs. Over the last 125 years ExxonMobil has evolved from a regional marketer of kerosene in the U.S. to the largest publicly traded petroleum and petrochemical enterprise in the world.
Today we operate in most of the world's countries and are best known by our familiar brand names: Exxon, Esso and Mobil. We make the products that drive modern transportation, power cities, lubricate industry and provide petrochemical building blocks that lead to thousands of consumer goods. Learn more by using the slider or the arrows below to browse our history over time. The Exxon Mission statement "Exxon Mobil Corporation is committed to being the world's premier petroleum and petrochemical company. To that end, we must continuously achieve superior financial and operating results while simultaneously adhering to high ethical standards."
The key problems that I am going to explore surrounding for profit corporations are consumer safety, bribery, insider trading, and intellectual property theft. Upon first look, one could assume that all nonprofits companies are motivated by psychological altruism, and for profit companies are motivated by psychological egoism. In Chapter 1 of Fieser and Moseley’s book “Introduction to Business” we learned that psychological egoism means that “Human conduct is selfishly motivated and we cannot perform actions from any other motive.”
We also learned that psychological altruism means that “Human beings are at least occasionally capable of acting selflessly.”(Fieser and Moseley 2012) I will start my case study by examining the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society falls best into the economic theory of socialism, this maintains that “community interest, not personal self-interest, should motivate economic development” (Fieser and Moseley 2012)
The American Cancer Society has to ensure that each of their employees is also altruistically motivated.” It isn't that businesses [or nonprofits] are bad," says Al Gini, professor of business ethics and chairman of the Management Department in the Graduate School of Business at Loyola University Chicago. "It's that human beings are weak.
They are frail, and they are apt to make mistakes." (Wright 2008) The American Cancer Society has to hire people that care about their cause. The solutions to this would be finding those people that have been impacted by unhealthy air and those who are already fighting for clean air, even possibly some of their donors. If people are donating to the American Cancer Society, it is because they believe in the overall cause that they are fighting for. Those would be the employees that can be trusted.
David Mason wrote that it is the leaders of the company that are overall responsible for the ethics of a nonprofit company. He stated that “nonprofit organizations have a unique situation and it is even more important for their leaders to elicit ethical decisions and behavior. (Mason 1992) Basically, this means that if an employee sees their supervision acting morally, it will help them to act morally themselves. Just like a parent should be a role model for their children, nonprofit leaders have to be role models for the rest of the world. Again, in order for the leaders to remain altruistic, they have to care about the cause that they are working towards.
Because the American Cancer Society relies solely on grants and donations, they constantly need to recruit new donors and maintain the loyalty of their current donors. In order to do this, they need to remain totally transparent. Every dollar they spend needs to go towards the “greater good”, or their overall purpose. Aliah Wright says that “Fraud is as prevalent in nonprofit organizations…as in business or government.” (Wright, 2008) Nonprofit organizations are often held to a different standard because they operate off of money given to them. If I donate to a nonprofit organization, I want to make sure that my money is going to go toward something good. I don’t want to be supporting another person and their bad habits.
Because of this overall consensus, nonprofits face more scrutiny that for profit organizations. To combat this, nonprofit organizations have to remain 100% transparent. If there are checks and balances, and the public has access to all of their financial information, then employees will be less likely to make unethical decisions. It is this reason that the American Cancer Society posts all of their financial statements on their public website for all to see. Chapter 10 of “Introduction to Business” talks about ethical investing. “Ethical investing commonly involves avoiding stocks related to armaments, tobacco, the sex industry, and alcohol…”(Fieser and Moseley 2012) I think that one of the main obstacles that the American Cancer Society faces in its sector is constantly “recruiting” new donations.
They have to find the happy medium between not asking enough, and overkill. People get tired of hearing about the same things over and over. The American Cancer Society has been battling the tobacco companies for years and they have succeeded by achieving many milestones, but they haven’t won the battle yet. They offer free smoking cessation help and have helped pass legislation that makes it illegal to smoke in most public areas. Their innovative approach is advertising. They sponsor billboards and commercials. The commercials are especially effective. Many of them picture ex-smokers who have had one of their lungs removed, or have holes in their throats and have to talk through a little box.
Seeing the effects of smoking can be very moving. The American Cancer Society realized that simply talking about the effects of smoking was no longer working. They used real life people who smoke to try to scare smokers into quitting. This effectively targets those ethical investors who are promoting clean air. Now we turn to our for profit corporation, Exxon. Exxon Mobil is owned by stockholders, they own the company by purchasing stock in it. All of the stockholders will then elect a board of directors who are responsible for managing the corporation, and then those directors will hire the officers who run the business itself. Exxon’s board of directors has hired Rex W.
Tillerson to operate their business. Rex W. Tillerson has a fiduciary duty “to manage the company in a way that protects the stockholders’ investment.” (Fieser and Moseley 2012) The Consumer Product Safety Commission is responsible for protecting people "against unreasonable risks of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products" (Consumer Product Safety Act of 1972, Section 2). (Fieser and Moseley 2012) If any product is found to be hazardous to consumers, Exxon has a social responsibility to inform people and replace their product. Typically, this is done free of charge which affects Exxon’s profits.
Exxon has to make sure that their products are tested and retested to avoid dangers that could endanger consumers and overall make Exxon lose money. “Insider trading occurs when someone has information that the rest of the public does not have and then acts on that information to deal in stocks to make a personal gain.” (Fieser and Moseley 2012) “A federal jury just convicted Rajat Kumar Gupta, an ex-Goldman Sachs director, of insider trading in a case that involves swapped information about Exxon and other Big Oil Companies. According to the Wall Street Journal, Gupta was convicted on three counts of securities fraud, one count of conspiracy, and acquitted of two counts of securities fraud.
The executive dabbled in a bit of insider trading when he discussed non-public boardroom information about his company and Procter & Gamble to a prominent hedge fund manager.” (Betters, 2012) Due to instances like these, it is of the utmost importance for Exxon to maintain the highest level of secrecy regarding its products and actions. “All companies have secrets, of course. The difference is that at Exxon everything is a secret. The company understands, by the way, that it takes things a little far; there is a hint of a sense of humor about its loose-lips-sink-ships mentality.
Some may say that it is morally wrong for a company to have so many secrets; after all, what could they be hiding? For a company operating in the big oil and gas market that Exxon is, it’s imperative to have secrets. Making money depends on offering something nobody else is able to offer. Every company wants to be able to offer the latest and greatest product to consumers. If Exxon doesn’t keep their technology under top secret protection, more if their technology would be stolen and marketed under someone else’s name.
Nonprofit organizations have to remain transparent, acquire donors, and hire the right people whereas profit organizations need remain constant vigilance against consumer safety, bribery, insider trading, and intellectual property theft. In order to do this, organizations need to have altruistic goals and make sure that their leaders are setting the right goals for their employees. They have to sort of “micro manage” so that they know everything that is going on in the organization. All it takes is one mistake by a top executive for their image to be severely damaged. The American Cancer Society has been in business for over 100 years. I would say that they have found the right balance between ethics and conducting business.
On the other hand, where nonprofit companies need to remain completely transparent, it would not benefit Exxon to do so. Exxon needs to walk a fine line between divulging enough information to stockholders, while keeping other information under wraps. It is because of their fiduciary responsibility that this is necessary. If their ideas were constantly stolen, they would not make money. If they did not make money, people would not invest, therefore Exxon would go bankrupt.
In researching, I found much more information regarding Exxon in regards to ethics than I did on the American Cancer Society. This could mean one of two things. Either nonprofit organizations truly are more altruistic than for profit organizations, or, they hide a lot of their discrepancies from the media because they know the negative impact that it could hold. For now, I will hold on to the notion that they care for the greater good and do not have as many ethical dilemmas as for profit organizations.
Mason, D. E. (1992, Ethics and the nonprofit leader. Nonprofit World, 10, 30-30. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/221332933?accountid=32521 Nocera, J. (2005, Dec 03). For all its cost, sarbanes law is working. New York Times, pp. C.1-C.1. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/433240563?accountid=32521 About us. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/about-us/ American cancer society. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.linkedin.com/company/american cancer- society Anaejionu, R. (n.d.).
Ethics problems in corporate america. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/ethics-problems-corporate-america-11721.html Betters, E. (2012, June 15). Wiretapped goldman exec found guilty of insider trading in case that involves apple. Retrieved from http://9to5mac.com/2012/06/15/report-wiretapped-goldman-exec-found-guilty-of-insider-trading-in-case-that-involves-apple/ Ella, M. (2011, September 12). Fighting for air. Retrieved from http://www.ffsonline.org/mary-ellas-weekly-messages/fighting-for-air.html