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Management 451 Final Paper


Submitted By sj3669
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Erin Jones
MGMT 451W: Final Paper For years, Dov Charney, chairman and CEO of American Apparel, a rather well known clothing manufacturer, has had many cases of sexual harassment brought against him. Since as early as 2006, numerous female American Apparel employees have come forward, claiming that they had in some way been sexually violated by Charney. There was one instance in which Charney and the directors of the company were sued by a former American Apparel employee for 250 million dollars, where she claimed that she had been forced to perform sexual acts for Charney while still a minor and working for the company. Also, in March of the current year, two suits were even brought against Charney in the same month; one in which a 19 year old, former American Apparel sales associate alleged that she was sexually assaulted while interviewing with Charney for a new modeling position.
In a corporate scandal such as this, many of the class concepts that were covered throughout the semester can be applied. From the domain of individual ethical decision making, we were introduced to several psychological roadblocks that individuals sometimes use to excuse or condone their unethical behaviors. Dov Charney exhibits a prime example of a certain psychological roadblock when he explains his view as to why he thinks consensual sexual relationships within the workplace are appropriate: “I think it’s a First Amendment right to pursue one’s affection for another human being.” Charney also states he believes that by expressing sexual freedom in the workplace, it will then create what he describes as a “publicly held company”. His philosophy on the matter is an example of moral justification. Dov Charney justifies his beliefs/actions because he feels that they contribute to some kind of socially valued outcome. By being able to freely express themselves sexually, Charney feels strongly that the company will become the unified corporation that it has been striving to be. From the ethical culture domain, we discussed how sometimes there can be a misalignment between the formal and informal systems of an organization. The sex abuse scandal at American Apparel acts as a prime example of how the two can contradict one another. American Apparel swears that they promote an ethical culture, and more specifically, the company even has an actual policy regarding conflicts of interest between personal and professional relationships. It is stated in company policy that personal relationships are to be kept separate from professional relationships, and that if the two were to ever conflict, the company will then deal with the issue accordingly. Dov Chanrey, as the CEO, should certainly abide by company policies and set an example for the rest of the company; however, his actions and behaviors exhibit otherwise. Because Charney encourages sex in the workplace, the article stated that the remainder of the company had gone along with his philosophies for quite some time and that sexual freedom in the workplace had become somewhat of a company-wide “norm”. The formal and informal systems at American Apparel are not aligned in the sense that the actions, behaviors, and philosophies of the CEO challenge the company’s policy. As a class we also discussed the fact that roles and obedience can lead to unethical behavior when learning about mid level managerial actions. Being in a position of authority can affect how other behave and react to different situations. Because Charney holds such a prestigious and powerful position within the company, it was easy for other employees at American Apparel to succumb to his beliefs and allow what was going on to proceed for as long as they did. Dov Charney, as an authority figure at American Apparel, should be demonstrating ethical behavior and instilling nothing but the highest ethical standards within the corporation. The textbook also indicates the fact that most organizations have the tendency to try and pin point the problem and associate it with one specific “culprit”. What these organizations don’t realize is that sometimes the culprit and the problem itself have in fact been encouraged by a superior. This applies perfectly to the sex abuse scandal at American Apparel because the CEO of the company is the one who is causing the hostile work environment.
Lastly, from the domain of corporate social responsibility, we learned that businesses have certain obligations to the many stakeholders that make up the entire corporation. Among these stakeholders, the employees, specifically, have the right to be able to work in a safe, hazard free environment. If the CEO of the company is going around sexually preying on the female employees, then American Apparel is not fulfilling its duty of providing a certain degree of employee safety. The women who work for the company should not have to fear coming to work, and top management at American Apparel should take the time to ensure that their employees feel comfortable and at ease while on the job. American Apparel is not currently managing its stakeholders properly, and needs to focus on providing the safe working environment that its employees are entitled to, even if that means removing the current CEO from his position.
Upon entering the corporate world in the near future, somewhere along the line, I am sure I am going to have to face a dilemma similar to those we have studied in class throughout the semester, or maybe even one similar to the sex abuse scandal at American Apparel (but let’s hope not). Although having to face such ethical dilemmas may be inevitable, I can take what I have learned from this class and apply it to my future decision making, behavior, or even how I choose to react to certain situations. Whatever the case may be, it is important that I remain a person of integrity, and stay true to those values that mean the most to me.

Instructions for Final Paper

The paper is due December 12 at Room 438 (slide under my door if I am not there)

Please create an ethical toolkit in which you apply and analyze four topics—a single topic from each of the four domains of ethics that we have covered this semester in class:

1. individual ethical decision making 2. ethical culture 3. managing ethical behavior 4. corporate social responsibility

Examples of each domain are provided in the picture on the next page. For instance, a single topic that we covered from the domain of individual ethical decision making is diffusion of responsibility. You could analyze the decision making of a single individual in your case with respect to this phenomenon. This is only one example of many.

Although it is not required, it would be a good addition if you included a picture with some special representation of your ideas (see the next page for an example) because pictures take advantage of the reality that our memories store information spatially. You will therefore be more likely to retain and recall this information in the future when you are working and encounter an ethical dilemma or are in position to influence other workers through ethical culture systems or day-to-day managerial action.

The case can be anything—a case from a movie, from the news, or history. It should not be a case that is relevant to you personally. It is critical that you be able to identify at least one individual from this case so that you can analyze this individual’s decisions for the individual ethical decision making domain. PLEASE USE THE SAME CASE FOR ALL FOUR DOMAINS. It is important to introduce this case in the beginning of the paper as a context for your analysis and then to continue to return to it for continuity.

You can structure the text however you want—in figures, tables, prose, or outlines (such as bullets or numbers). I want you to use whatever format interests you most and will best promote your own understanding and retention of the course concepts. It is important to understand that it will be more difficult to convey an idea with rich details without a decent amount of prose/outlines, therefore you should carefully consider the balance you will strike between figures/tables and prose/outlines.

The page limit is 3 pages, so it’s important to be concise!

Good luck!

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