Personal And Organizational Ethics And Values
Business ethics is important in determining how an organization will perform in the long run. It is, therefore, crucial to identify and analyze key ethical problems, which both for-profit and not-for-profit companies face, and the actions they take to solve the problem. When looking at personal and organizational ethics, various ethical theories suffice (Snellman, 2014). These theories are meant to guide and support business owners to think clearly and make well-informed decisions. For a better understanding of the ethical requirement of business, it is better to consider both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. The not-for-profit organization in consideration is the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). On the other hand, the for-profit company is the Universal Health Service, Inc. (UHS). Due to various problems related to business ethics that organizations face, which result in ethical dilemmas, there is a need for companies to take appropriate ethical actions.
Wounded Warrior Project
WWP is a not-for-profit organization that started with an aim of providing comfort items to wounded veterans as a result of military action. Following his recovery after a helicopter crash in 1992, John Melia established the WWP in 2003 in Roanoke, Virginia (WWP, n.d.). He formed the organization to help other casualties. In 2006, the headquarters of the organization moved to Jacksonville, Florida (WWP, n.d.). Since then, the organization has developed into a holistic rehabilitation effort which goal is to assist warriors having both visible and invisible wounds, as they transition from military to civilian life (WWP, n.d.). Tens of thousands of veterans together with their family members receive support each year through the WWP programs and services.
The mission of the company is to honor and empower wounded warrior. The purpose is to raise awareness of the needs of injured veterans, help them to assist one another, and provide direct programs and services to meet their needs. Moreover, the vision is to foster the most successful wounded service members in the history of the nation.
The WWP has some programs to cater for the needs of injured service members. The programs are specifically structured to nurture the minds and bodies of warriors, as well as engage them and encourage their economic empowerment (Franklin et al., 2013). For warrior engagement, the organization has an alumni program, benefits services, international support, WWP Packs, and the WWP Resource Center. For warriors economic empowerment, there is the Transition Training Academy, Warriors to Work program, and education services (Franklin et al., 2013). The funding sources of WWP are donations from various corporations, gifts, grants, contributions, fundraising events, and federated campaigns.
Ethical Dilemma Faced by Wounded Warrior Project
The number of ethical requirements to which organizations should adhere is continuously increasing. Nevertheless, new kinds of unethical behaviors arise, thereby increasing the number of wrongdoings in organizations. In recent years, there has been an increase in cases of misuse of power and public resources for personal gain. Hence, it is of great importance for companies to have a broad understanding of ethical approaches and traditions to cope with the diversification and demands of ethical requirements.
The problems that the WWP faces mainly occurred as a result of criticism and scrutiny which stem from the beliefs of some people that the organization cares more about its image than its work. It is obvious that those wounded in combat do not receive the level of care that they deserve. The scrutiny that the organization faces results from the fact that it made its activities available to the general public. An example of recent scrutiny that the company faced is the claims that the organization takes advantage of the generosity of the society by accepting all of the benefits and then adding them to the salaries of top employees (Mel?, 2007). Further, the organization does not follow the virtue of moderation when it comes to its pay structure. It gives large salaries and huge bonuses to top leaders while neglecting employees in the lower tier. Another criticism of the organization with regards to its marketing is that its logo practices are extremely immoral. It uses images and commercials showing wounded soldiers for the sole purpose of gaining more revenues, hence exploiting both veterans and public members who show empathy for injured people. The prominence of the company resulted in criticism that originated from its advocates and veterans. However, these criticisms have not affected the performance of the organization.
How the Organization Responded to the Ethical Dilemma and the Outcomes that Emerged
In reaction to the accusations, the company provided documentation on how it offered assistance to injured warriors in different ways and cleared its name against the accusations. As mentioned above, using images of wounded veterans for commercials, the organization claimed that it was just trying to create veterans awareness. They implied that branding and logo practices could not be possible without the assistance of veterans. Despite these claims, donors do not know where their money is going. Instead, they choose to believe that the donations they make are for a good cause. The outcomes of the claim were that veterans should, at least, receive payments for the images and have consent to them. Furthermore, the public should fully understand the issues of concern to veterans, which creates the need for the organization to show transparency so that the public knows the real problems faced by veterans. As a result, there would be minimal widespread exploitation by not-for-profit organizations and unmasking of the real problems in the veteran community.
From a virtue point of view, there is a need to look at the functionality of not-for-profit organizations. They are mainly responsible for ensuring that their consumers receive the best services available (Wagner, 2015). The idea of profits should, therefore, not be of primary importance in such organizations (Lichtenstein, Drumwright, & Braig, 2004). The organization at hand claimed that although it paid good salaries to its top employees, they performed well in their reported services. However, some members of the public view that the leaders of WWP are not happy with themselves because they know that they are taking money from the public. Nevertheless, they outsource the majority of their services and fail to perform many of the services that they report.
Universal Health Services, Inc.
UHS is a health management for-profit company founded by Alan Miler in 1978 (UHS, n.d.). Its main aim is to deliver the best health care at affordable prices, strengthen physician and community relationships, and pursue conventional development through its acute care hospitals, subsidies, behavioral health facilities, and ambulatory centers. The headquarters of the company are in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. The company is among the largest hospital management firms in the United States (Carrin, 2008). UHS has 235 behavioral health facilities, acute hospitals, and ambulatory surgery centers through its subsidiaries (UHS, n.d.). The total number of workers in the company has passed the 60,000 mark (UHS, n.d.).
The company has focused its efforts on managing behavioral health hospitals, acute care hospitals, and ambulatory surgery and radiation oncology centers. Its workers believe that hospitals play a crucial role in ensuring an efficient health care delivery system. The company has established and sustained a robust financial base since its inception. Major rating agencies have rated the company as the only investment grade, publicly traded hospital company. As a result, the company can easily access public capital markets. Moreover, it has a strong support from major bank groups, including some of the largest banks in the country and regional banking institutions.
The mission of the company is to offer greater health care services. The organization is among the leaders in the health care industry, creating thousands of jobs every year and providing valuable health education programs, superior healthcare services, and tax revenues for governments. The major crisis that the company faces is the investigation into its supernormal profits in the behavioral health facilities section. However, company officials solved this crisis by disclosing the strategies they used to achieve high-profit margins. The company is a Fortune 500 company and has rapidly grown over the years.
Ethical Dilemma Faced by Universal Health Services, Inc.
Financial managers in the health care industry face ethical conflicts, particularly, regarding meeting the restrictive and conflicting laws and regulations with which their organizations should comply. The managers have an ethical duty to oppose laws that put their organizations in difficult legal and ethical situations. Currently, there are numerous situations that may make it difficult to determine the proper course of action. These situations may lead to specific dilemmas that directly concern the health care industry (Carrin, 2008). There need to be regular investigations into health care companies as they provide relevant information to government officials, insurers, providers and make decisions concerning health-related issues.
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Problems that the UHI faces are due to the lack of behavioral facilities. Some of these problems include negligence and fraud allegations. The reason for the loss of behavioral facilities is that there have been no investigations into the company for quite some time. As a result of the loss of the facilities, the quality of care that the company provides became lower. A consequence of the low quality of service is that the performance of the company has dropped significantly. The entity that was solely responsible for the lack of behavioral facilities was the management of the company.
How the Organization Responded to the Ethical Dilemma and the Outcomes that Emerged
The organization responded to the claims of lack of behavioral facilities by management affirming that the facilities were present when the investigation agencies reported that they were missing. The officials of the company also disclosed their strategies of achieving higher profits by reducing staff costs and raising occupancy rates. It may be a huge problem for the company to lack behavioral facilities. However, the organization can resolve this problem, which is mainly due to negligence, by using two methods. The first method is the use of the tort system which aims at punishing negligent providers and compensating for the injured patients. The solution involves taking claims of fraud to court. Moreover, there can be the initiation of fraud detection methods that would enable the establishment of the degree of fraud within the organization. The second solution is to conduct awareness training on negligence. Out of two solutions, it is eminent that the use of the tort system will be the most effective measure to counter the charges of fraud because it will prevent negligence in the health sector. Involvement of law will assist in reducing negligence within the company. Though the tort system may be effective, in the case where it is not clear whether the company committed fraud, it is advisable to use awareness training. The reason for this, according to Mel? (2007), is that it is ethically wrong to punish the management of the company without prior investigations into establishing the truth of the matter. In this case, the solution is preferable since the issue may be a serious allegation from other competing firms.
Reflection on the Ethical Actions that the Organizations Performed
Wounded Warriors Project
The actions that the WWP took to refute the claims of exploitation of the public were in some way morally irresponsible. In a broad perspective, the company created the moral dilemma for itself. Instead of seeking the consent of wounded warriors before using their images in the marketing campaigns, the company chose to use their images without any approval on the part of veterans. Further, the organization claimed that the use of the images was for the best of veterans as they would receive recognition from the public and hence more generous donations. In the real sense, veterans were not paid for the images the company used in marketing campaigns. Moreover, matters became even worse due to the fact that the public members donated generously yet they did not know where their money is going.
The company is responsible for its problem because its managers are the ones who created it. For the company to have prevented the problem, it should have first obtained approval from wounded veterans before using their images. Secondly, since they receive generous donations from the public as a result of their empathy to injured soldiers, they should have, at least, given part of the donation to them. Finally, the company should have been fully transparent and should have unmasked real issues that veterans face so that the public could know how their donations are spent.
Universal Health Services, Inc.
The management of the UHS is responsible for ethical dilemmas that have occurred, as it affirmed that behavioral facilities of the company were present when investigation agencies reported the missing health facilities. To prevent such problems in the future, healthcare financial managers should have a strong sense of duty. They should ensure that there is the provision of the best possible services to people who need them to improve their overall quality of life and well-being (Nowicki & Summers, 2001). Therefore, rationing health care would result in the inadequate provision of quality services to all. Managers should comply with the quality of care requirements and, therefore, they should follow all the procedures for ethical dilemmas not to occur during the provision of services. Further, they should have proper staffing and adequate funds to do their job efficiently (Nowicki & Summers, 2001).
To promote the highest standards and ethical conduct for health providers, the Healthcare Financial Management Association has formulated guidelines that providers should use. In particular, they should practice honesty and maintain personal integrity (Saletnik, 2003). Moreover, they should strive for fair presentation and maintain the confidentiality of privileged information. Further, they should seek more public understanding of the issues that may bring controversies through communication about the issues. Finally, they should strive to maintain a balance between quality and cost of healthcare (Nowicki & Summers, 2001).
Critique of the Actions of the Companies
Wounded Warrior Project
The deontological theory mainly looks at the reasons behind actions that businesses perform. The duty of moral law is good will and, therefore, companies should operate in a way that is morally acceptable in the society. Some people viewed that the use of images of wounded veterans by WWP in its marketing and branding strategy was immoral because they considered actions taken by the WWP management as solely for the purpose of increasing revenues of the company. Further, they believed that it was an exploitation of injured veterans and the generous public members who made their donations based on the empathy. In reality, the veterans did not receive any payment nor had they consented to the images that the company used in its marketing strategies (Saletnik, 2003).
For the company to solve the problem of scrutiny and criticism, it should be accountable to givers. Further, the organization should make the best out of its funds by devoting the highest percentage of the benefits to the needy. It is eminent that the best solution to solve the problem of scrutiny is to give freely without attaching strings as it is in reference to the ethics of conditional giving. For the company to avoid future challenges, it needs to get rid of veterans and advocates and begin to deal with those who are truly in need of its aid.
Universal Health Services, Inc.
The utilitarian perspective in the health care industry suggests that medical care resources should be used in the provision of better services to all people. However, in medical care, services are mostly provided to the neediest and most identifiable. Different countries balance the individuals rights and fairness in the society in different ways, using various processes (Cannoy & Salam, 2010). Ultimately, there should be an assessment of the rationing of services against societal and health system goals. Health is not only determined by health care but also by social and environmental factors. While inequities in health care may reduce as a result of health care financing and increased access to health care services, equity in health outcomes is another goal of health care systems.
Running an ethical business means that the business treats others the way it would want other people to treat it. An ethical business ought to act honestly, be open concerning its activities, be consistent in its operations, and operate in the best interest of others. An ethical business should work to make its customers, employees, shareholders, and the community at large prosper (Sayre-McCord, 2000). Doing such is also the best interest of the company as the groups are the ones involved in contributing to the success of the company. The difficult part in running an ethical business is finding out what is the best interest of others. However, the company can achieve this by balancing the different interest of various groups.
Therefore, the best ethical theory that UHS can use to run an ethical business is utilitarianism. The theory suggests that a company should use its resources to provide the best services to a greater number of its customers. If the company adheres to utilitarianism, it will be a leader in its respective communities in the provision of the best health care services and valuable health care programs.
It is clear that both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations experience problems when it comes to ethics. For instance, the WWP faced a challenge when it used the images of wounded veterans for its marketing campaigns. Some may view this action as immoral one due to the implications that the images have, especially when there is no transparency regarding the way the money is spent. On the other hand, UHS faces an ethical conflict in meeting the restrictive laws and regulations with which it should comply. The ethical position of the company would ultimately determine if it operates for the good of its people. Moreover, good morals would result in a better appreciation of companies by the public.