Ethics and Governance

L'Oral believed that ethnic minorities like blacks, Arab and Asian women were unworthy of selling its shampoo. This led them to recruit only white women to work with them. As stated in the case, they must be 'bleu, blanc, rouge'. They also believed French shoppers were more likely to purchase shampoo from white sales staff. The egoist contends that all choices should involve self-promotion as their sole objective (7th ed). They believe that conventional morality is irrational and consider the interests of others only when their own interests are at stake.

From an egoism stand point, L'Oral's discrimination against ethnic minorities would be considered ethical because it would improve their shampoo sales and increase revenue. Both the acceptance of the conventional rules of morality and interests of ethnic minorities will not be a concern unless L'Oral's well-being is compromised. Utilitarianism deems an action to be morally right if and only if it maximises good consequences over bad consequences (Chryssides and Kaler 1993). In other words, an action is ethical if utility is maximised.

Applying this theory to the case, it is clear that the recruitment policy will be advantageous for L'Oral as it will lead to more sales. It is also clear that the ethnic minorities will in turn suffer the dire consequences of being unemployed. However, what is unclear is how units of utility can be precisely measured in order to determine if discriminating against ethnic minorities is morally right. Thus, it would be difficult to say if discriminating against ethnic minorities is moral according to the utilitarian theory.

According to virtue ethics, an action is morally right if the agent exhibits a morally virtuous character, and is morally wrong if the agent exhibits morally vicious character. In other words, the wrongfulness of an action can be determined by examining the kind of character the action tends to produce, or the kind of character that tends to produce the action. According to the virtue ethics, it is difficult to judge if L'Oral is being ethical in discriminating against the ethnic minorities because virtue ethics does not explicitly state which traits of character are virtuous. Arnett (2003) and Vladimir (1980) state that in France, the ability to speak the French language is widely advocated by the French state as a good way to uphold and preserve French culture. This is due to the widely held perception of a steadily declining French identity (Hewitt 2003).

From this perspective, it can be argued that L'Oral is ethical because they are exhibiting moral character. On the other hand, upholding French culture can be seen as merely a disposition that is applicable to France society and not one that is a moral virtue for human life in general. Thus, L'Or�al can be seen as morally upright to the native French but to the rest of the world, they appear to be unethical. According to Kantianism, moral right and wrong is determined not by what a person accomplishes - as in utilitarianism - but by the reasons the person has for the action. It is also based on the golden rule "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

From a Kantian view point, it is difficult to determine if L'Oral is ethical because Kant's theory is too vague and does not tell us what interests people have and what their relative importance is. In other words, it does not tell us how the conflicting rights of L'Oral and ethnic minorities should be adjusted to each other. However, according to Kant's theory of universalizability and reversibility - L'Oral would be acting morally if they were willing to accept discrimination if they themselves were black, Asian or Arab. This is wrong because discrimination is obviously immoral. Thus, Kantianism is inadequate in helping to make a moral decision here.

 With regards to this case, the justice theory is more concerned with fairness and legal compliance. It also advocates equality of opportunity for all, regardless of differences like race, and political beliefs which is a requirement of justice (Buchanan 1985). Procedural justice is based on the processes and activities that produce the outcome. 

According to John Rawls, giving some individuals less of an opportunity to compete for jobs from others is unjust, and furthermore, discrimination in employment is wrong because it violates the fundamental principal of justice by differentiating between people on the basis of characteristics that are not relevant to the task they must perform (Velasquez 2006). It also goes against the principal of equality where individuals are equal in all aspects relevant to the kind of treatment in question should be treated equally even if they are dissimilar in other aspects which are irrelevant (Trevino and Nelson 2007).

In this case, discrimination is unethical since the action of recruiting only whites is considered as illegal under the French employment law. L'Oral's executives forced to deny lightening of Beyonc Knowles's skin Egoism According to egoism theory, L'Orl's actions are ethical because they are acting only for their own interests. In this case, L'Oral's sole concern was the reputation of the company. Both the interests of the consumers and general public were secondary to L'Oral.

From a utilitarian perspective, it is obvious that denying the claims will have good consequences for L'Orl's branding as public confidence in the company will be less badly affected. The stability will benefit shareholders, employees and suppliers. It is also apparent that the general public will suffer the ill consequences of misplaced trust. Nevertheless, it would be difficult to conclude that denying the claims is strictly moral or immoral since the measurement of utility remains vague and arbitrary. Indeed, utilitarian theory does not help in making a ethical decision here.

According to virtue ethics, honesty and justice is accepted in all cultures and concealing the truth is considered unethical (Dunfee 1991).By forcing the executives to deny the act, L'Oral went against the virtue of truth which is also the backbone of business transactions (Maitland 1997). Thus, according to virtue ethics, L'Oral's denying of the truth is considered unethical. Kantianism By forcing the executives to deny the claims, L'Oral is using them to achieve their own ends and not respecting the executives' liberty to determine whether it is a moral act. Furthermore, under universalisability the reasons for asking the executives to deny such a claim, is definitely inconsistent and cannot be applied universally (Beauchamp and Bowie 2004). Thus, at first hand, it may seem unethical. However, one may also argue that L'Oral is also respecting their capacity to freely choose for themselves because they are willing to let them work elsewhere if they choose. Thus, Kantianism is not useful in helping us make ethical decisions here.

According to the theory of justice, an ethical decision is one that protects the interests of stakeholders who may be under-represented or lack power. Thus, L'Oral's act of forcing their executives to deny the lightening of Beyoncs skin would be considered unethical here.  According to egoism theory, L'Oral's perception that only white sales staff will generate sales would be considered ethical because L'Or�al sought to maximise only their own welfare and interest (Tannsjo 2009), without regard for the concerns of others.

Based on utilitarianism, it is debatable if the sum total of welfare is maximised when L'Oral hires only BBRs. This is because it is impossible to accurately and objectively define the total utilities that each decision brings about. Thus, utilitarianism is not effective as an ethical decision making tool here.  From the virtue ethics perspective, it is not clear if L'Oral is being ethical in perceiving that whites will be able to generate more sales in French shops. This is because strongly upholding French identity is a virtue that applies exclusively to the French and is not a general virtue for the rest of the world. Thus, virtue ethics theory is not applicable in helping to decide on the morality here.

A proper reporting mechanism will have to be implemented for reporting of violators of the code. Employees will have to be informed of the proper channel, like immediate supervisors to address this so to ensure the problem can be detected earlier, hence an employee should report a case if he knew of another employee who violates the code (Trevino and Nelson 1995). Employees can also be provided with incentives to report as an encouragement (Nitsch, Baetz and Hughes 2005).