Concepts And Cases: Corporate Social Responsibility

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Concepts And Cases: Corporate Social Responsibility

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Concepts And Cases: Corporate Social Responsibility

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Discuss about the Concepts and Cases for Corporate Social Responsibility.

As part of the BHP Billion Ltd, I have been given the responsibility to examine the catastrophic failure that took place in Brazil in the month of November 2015 from an ethical point of view. The role and responsibilities of a civil engineer from an ethical perspective is contained in Engineers Australia Code of Ethics (Harris et al. 2013). It is expected from the engineers to practice their knowledge in the field of their area and expertise. As an engineer, it is important to have a set of ethical framework that guides their working and functioning, especially in a dilemma. Thus, it may be said that there are many utilities of the ethical framework provided to a manager.
It is expected from engineers to act with honesty and with good conscience. They are expected to be trustworthy and respect the dignity of others. This means that those who qualify as civil engineers need to work impartially and without favour to others (Byrne et al. 2013). In this case study as well, I should have also acted impartially and informed the people about the dangers that were coming on their way. I failed to tell them that the dam would collapse soon. As an ethical engineer, I should have acted with integrity.
An engineer can act competently only if they are able to develop themselves personally by learning from their leaders and peers. They are to practice within their area of competence and not to claim skills beyond the ones they possess (Baillie and Levine 2013). From the given case study as well, it may be said that as a civil engineer I should have acted competently to overcome the given dilemma as well.
Following a proper ethical framework can be very helpful, specifically in the capacity of the Manager. Ethics impose obligations on a person and make professionals accountable for their actions. Ethical guidelines help professionals in making decisions easily and this allows them to overcome situations that involve dilemma (Campopiano and De Massis 2015). Thus, as a civil engineer I should have analysed the case to give it a more fair and just outcome. I should have taken initiatives at a personal level to overcome the issues related with the Samrco dam.
There are many advantages of securing ethical values and principles through an appropriate regulatory framework. One of the advantages of having an ethical principle through an appropriate legal framework is that it keeps the professional accountable for their actions. A regulatory framework lays specific rules clearly stating the exact rules that are applicable to people (Harris et al. 2013). In the given case as well, it would have been very helpful if a regulatory framework were provided so that the professionals would know the guidelines of their actions at the time of emergencies. The feasibility of their actions can be stated as part of the framework. When emergencies such as flood or collapse of dam take place, existence of an ethical framework is important as it helps the people to know about their limitations of actions (Baillie and Levine 2013). Therefore, it is important to have a proper regulatory framework for securing ethical values.
Law is a reflection of the changes that take place in the society and it acts as an instrument of change especially in the area of law reform. Understanding that legal principles can be easily changed it is important that managers be active in bringing about effective change to improve business activity. Managers should use law as a very valuable tool to achieve management goals.
The recommendations that are provided to the Board in the managerial capacity are as follows:
Renegotiation of the labour contracts with proper approval of the authorities: This can be a very helpful method, as many labours employed for construction of the dam were not properly bound by the labour contracts. A labour contract makes the employees accountable of their actions. If employees become aware of the fact that their actions are answerable they shall take their job seriously and they shall become more aware of their job responsibilities knowing that they may have to face criticisms in case an accident take place (Miranda and Marques 2016).
Sell or Lease the local assets of the village of the Brazilian Village: Selling or leasing of the land that are remains of the flood may generate income for the people living in the village as well as for the organisations involved in the carelessness of the collapse of the dam. With the income that shall be generated from the selling or leasing of the local assets shall be utilised for the benefit of the local people this shall help BHP Billion in winning the confidence of the people (Jacobsen 2016).
Revision of the contractual obligations: This shall enable BHP Billion to make more stringent terms and conditions regarding the working of the people who work on contractual basis. Working on a contractual basis makes people less responsible and less serious about their activities. The collapse of the dam was, in a way, an outcome of less stringent terms of the contract. Thus, if contractual terms of the contract are revised, people shall become more careful as any act that is against the terms of the contract may become breach of contract (Schoenberger 2016).
Compliance with the environmental laws: The collapse of the dam caused a lot of destruction to the environment. The waste that was released from the mining process reached the Atlantic Coast contaminating the water and making it unsuitable for the use of the people. Moreover, the river of Doce was also harmed by the mud and iron ore release making the water dangerous for consummation (Adams 2016).
Thus, it is a recommendation to the Board to take actions for the betterment of the people and make the environment suitable for the usage of the people. Protection of the environment is one of the most important factors that should be considered so that the corporation is able to conduct their business in an effective manner.
Date: 1st September 2016
To: Senior Vice President
Re: BetterCar Ltd Rights and Responsibilities
Based on the facts, the issue that arises here is, whether the capping of the amount that is to be paid as compensation is legal or not and what are the responsibilities and rights of the company arising out of the situation. To avoid the risk of management, one of the most effective tools is the inclusion of the clause of limitation of liability (Micklitz and Reich 2014). This is considered as the most effective tool for avoiding the risk of management. Thus, it is important to understand that not all limitation and exclusion clauses are valid. Exclusion or a limitation clause can be declared as invalid if the clause denies legal rights that should have been stated otherwise. Generally, in such cases, the Courts interpret the clause in the favour of the party who relied on such a provision (McKendrick 2014). Specifically, if the given situation is such that, one of the parties to the contract is in a more powerful position to bargain as compared to the other party, then in such cases the Courts prefer examining the exclusionary clause more closely. The person who places his reliance on the exclusionary clause, has to show to the Court that he acted by placing his belief on the exclusionary clause. Thus, it may said that in the given case study as well, BC introduced a limiting clause as part the contract and insisted the customers to go through the contract.
The limiting or the exclusionary clause was introduced as part of the Unfair Contract Terms Act in the year 1977. It is an obligation of the company to make sure that the terms included in the contract are not unfair and that they are reasonable to be included as part of the contract. This is enumerated in Section 11 of the Unfair Contract Terms Act, 1977. The Act states the guidelines that have to be followed with respect to the element of reasonableness (Goldberger 2016). Under Schedule 2 of the UCTA the guidelines that are company should follow are:

The parties to the contract should have relative bargaining capabilities
The customer should not be induced for the acceptance of the terms of the contract
The customer should be aware that such a clause existed at the time of making the contract
In case where a liability clause existed in the contract and there was no compliance with the condition, the compliance with that condition at the time when the contract was made was likelihood
If the goods were made on special order (Poole 2016)

In the given case study as well, though there was existence of bargaining clause on the part of the company, however the company attempted to explain the clause to the customers. Moreover, the customers were not induced to form part of the contract with the company. The company did not induce the customers to sign the contract having the limitation clause. Many companies have clauses relating to limitation of liability and companies face issues about it.
It also to be noted in this regard that, where there are clauses relating to recovery of money from the people or consumers shall not be given the status of exclusionary clause. This was decided in the case of Ailsa Craig Fishing Co. Ltd v Malvern Fishing Co. Ltd. Thus, it may be held that since the contract was signed validly and the limitation clause was explained to the consumers at the time of making the contract, the company has the right to claim the amount, which has been limited according to the contract, is lawful (Cartwright 2016).
However, there is responsibility on the part of the BC as well. According to the Sale of Goods Act, 1979 there is an implied warranty that sellers give to the customers with respect to the quality of goods. As per the warranty given to the customers, it is the duty of the seller to ensure that the goods match with the description that is promised to the customers. If sellers do not comply with this warranty it is considered that they have breached their duty as a seller (Hondius 2016). Thus, it is important that companies comply with this warranty so that customers are not dissatisfied with the quality of the good. Under Section 6 subsection 2 of the UCTA, it has been said that sellers may be held liable for breach of warranty if they do not comply with the provisions of the given section.  Moreover, it is also to be noted here that if the company gave reasonable time to the customers for reviewing the product then the company shall not be liable for breach of warranty (O’Sullivan and Hilliard 2016).
Conclusively, it may held that the company BC did no wrong against the customers as it gave time to the customers for reviewing the clause and did not induce customers for forming part of the contract.
Adams, M.A., 2016. Contemporary case studies in corporate governance failures. Governance Directions, 68(6), p.335.
Baillie, C. and Levine, M., 2013. Engineering ethics from a justice perspective: A critical repositioning of what it means to be an engineer.International Journal of Engineering, Social Justice, and Peace, 2(1), pp.10-20.
Byrne, E.P., Desha, C.J., Fitzpatrick, J.J. and “Charlie” Hargroves, K., 2013. Exploring sustainability themes in engineering accreditation and curricula.International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 14(4), pp.384-403.
Campopiano, G. and De Massis, A., 2015. Corporate social responsibility reporting: A content analysis in family and non-family firms. Journal of Business Ethics, 129(3), pp.511-534.
Cartwright, J., 2016. Contract law: An introduction to the English law of contract for the civil lawyer. Bloomsbury Publishing.
Goldberger, J., 2016. Unconscionable conduct and unfair contract terms.Commercial Law Quarterly: The Journal of the Commercial Law Association of Australia, 30(2), p.17.
Harris Jr, C.E., Pritchard, M.S., Rabins, M.J., James, R. and Englehardt, E., 2013. Engineering ethics: Concepts and cases. Cengage Learning.
Hondius, E., 2016. Unfair Contract Terms and the Consumer: ECJ Case Law, Foreign Literature, and Their Impact on Dutch Law. European Review of Private Law, 24(3), pp.457-472.
Jacobsen, J., 2016. DMADV Project Saves $2 Million for Brazilian Mining Company.
McKendrick, E., 2014. Contract law: text, cases, and materials. Oxford University Press (UK).
Micklitz, H.W. and Reich, N., 2014. The court and sleeping beauty: The revival of the Unfair Contract Terms Directive (UCTD). Common market law review, 51(3), pp.771-808.
Miranda, L.S. and Marques, A.C., 2016. Hidden impacts of the Samarco mining waste dam collapse to Brazilian marine fauna-an example from the staurozoans (Cnidaria). Biota Neotropica, 16(2).
O’Sullivan, J. and Hilliard, J., 2016. The law of contract. Oxford University Press.
Poole, J., 2016. Textbook on contract law. Oxford University Press.
Schoenberger, E., 2016. Environmentally sustainable mining: The case of tailings storage facilities. Resources Policy, 49, pp.119-128.

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