Introduction (Defining the problem)
45% of chocolate we consume in the United States and in the rest of the world is made from cocoa beans grown and harvested on farms in the Ivory Coast, but few realize that a portion of the Ivory Coast cocoa beans that goes into the chocolate we eat was grown and harvested by slave children.
1. What are the corporate business and individual ethical issues raised by this case?
Firstly, the economic repercussions, considering that nearly half of the world’s chocolate is made from the cocoa beans that are grown and harvested in the Ivory Coast and Ghana. If we were to refuse to do any business with these countries or the people associated with these countries, the costs of the products may be un-affordable to consumers.
As far as political issues, we’re not the only country who does business with these other countries, and if we stop doing business with the Ivory Coast and Ghana the other countries that also do business with them may stop doing business with us. The chocolate manufacturers and the middleman are more responsible for this.
The individual ethical issue raised is legal. As stated in the article slavery on the farms by farmers is illegal in the Ivory Coast. Whether it is or how well the laws are enforced is for the most part out of our control. Moreover the consumers, after knowing the severity of the case, encourage the production of the chocolates that turns as an immoral and an injustice towards the children.
2. In your view, is the kind of slavery discussed in the case absolutely wrong no matter what, or is it relatively wrong, i.e., if one happens to live in a society such as ours that disapproves of child slavery? (Explain your view and why you hold it?)
I feel slavery of any kind is wrong whether the society approves or disapproves to it. However, throughout history slavery has been a common practice of most societies across the world. If the young boys in this case had been treated better, for example better working conditions, better sleeping conditions, better living conditions, and better treatment in general, I think the major moral issue here is the treatment of the children.
3. Who shares in the moral responsibility for the slavery occurring in the chocolate industry?
The moral responsibility for slavery in the chocolate industry is shared by many. The farmers and plantation owners to begin should not be using these children for labor under any circumstances. The African government also shares a large portion of the responsibility by their continual inaction and sometimes support to these farmers. They also seem to be covering up corruption by censoring the media from showing the news to the public.. The consumers to some extent share responsibility especially when they have been made aware of these conditions they continue to purchase from these large companies. They are giving a passive consent to continue doing whatever they choose. Finally, I feel the largest responsibility is on the chocolate companies and the cacao distributors who continue to purchase from these farmers, some of which are in very close proximity, even after it has been proven that they are trafficking children. They have not only signed agreements saying that they would not continue this practice but it is illegal, immoral, and most definitely unethical. An additional reason that I believe that the cacao distributors and chocolate companies are the most responsible is due to the fact that they can afford to pay these farmers much higher wages and provide some oversight at these plantations that could help prevent this trafficking of children.
4. Consider the bill that Representative Engel and Senator Harkin attempted to enact into a law, but which never became a law because of the lobbying efforts of the chocolate companies. What does this incident show about the view that “to be ethical it is enough for business people to follow the law”?
It is wrong to perceive the law and ethics as identical. The large chocolate manufacturer in the United States is the root of the problem, they not only continue to buy the cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast of Africa, they also lobbied to stop a new bill from being passed into law that would prohibit them from purchasing any slavery chocolate. To be ethical, not enough for business people just to follow the laws. They also must thing about their employees welfare. They should support the effort that is shown by Eagle and Senator Harkin that wants to attempt to enact into a law. The goal was not met and the protocol has still not had any effect on reducing child slavery along the Ivory Coast. In a free economy ethics must be applied to all human activities as ethics is an unavoidable part of business. Ethics and profit seeking should go hand in hand as both are equally consistent.
Introduction (Defining the problem)