Business and Morals: Oil and water?

In an article in the June 3, 2007 Great Falls Tribune, an article discusses a pharmacy whose new owners have decided to stop selling birth control pills because they feel that selling oral contraceptives (ie: “the pill”) conflicts with their Catholic faith.

That article quotes a Great Falls businessman Jerry Weissman, as follows:

Weissman, who described himself as a pro-choice Republican, also said he thinks Snyder’s new owners are taking a considerable business risk, especially with two new Walgreens pharmacies set to open in the near future, “by putting obstacles in their road to serving customers by making business decisions for moral reasons.”

That quote jumped off the page at me.

Aren’t many business decisions moral ones?

Which choice involves the good morals, choice a or choice b?

1) Employment
(a) Laying off employees that you can no longer afford to pay – so that the other employees’ jobs are more stable, or
(b) Keeping employees you can no longer afford to pay – thus risking the employment of all employees, as well as your family’s financial situation.

2) Day to day operations – A customer in a Mercedes hands you a $20 through the drive-in window. Turns out a $50 bill is stuck to it and you know they didn’t realize they gave both bills to you.

(a) Give them the $50 bill, plus change from their $20 – because it’s their money.
(b) Keep the $50 bill – that guy owns a Mercedes and you don’t. You deserve that $50 and he’ll never know where it went.

3) You hire your best friend’s pretty wife (are you NUTS?) because their family needs the cash, and on her first day, she propositions you in your office.

(a) You fire her and tell your friend.
(b) You accept the proposition, give her a raise and don’t say a thing to your friend.

Seems to me that many, if not all, business decisions are made on moral grounds, either good or bad.

Were the decisions at Tyco, Enron, Global Crossing, S&Ls etc moral ones?

Obviously, some decisions in a business are not morals-based, but I think quite a few are. What do you think?

More tomorrow on a different angle on this story, as I don’t want to dilute the topic of this post.

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