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Business is among the earliest phenomena on earth that was, is, and will remain relevant as long as mankind exists. It holds a core part of our existence. For any product that we use in this life, it has to go through a number of processes namely extraction, where raw materials are harvested from mother nature, then production, where the raw materials are converted into a form that will satisfy a particular human need, to distribution, where the finished product is taken to where it is needed, consumption, where the person with the need utilizes the product to satisfy his need and finally to disposal, where the remains of the consumed product is done away with (Werhane 2001). I can either a be a producer or a consumer, though I could be both in the sense that I could be producing and consuming the same product or producing one product and using it while buying other products that I am not producing so as to cater for my varying needs.
As tertiary education student, I have various needs that need to be taken care of in order achieve my personal and academic needs. I need commodities ranging from stationery, clothes, personal effects and electronics among others. The institution in which I learn is also a consumer of various commodities in the process of fulfilling its mandate. These range from stationery, electronics textbooks among other things.
I have observed that most educational institutions, in most cases, do not engage in the production of the above mentioned but rather buy the finished products from those who produce them. Most of these things, especially the electronics do not have a long lifespan. Technology keeps changing, driving the need to keep buying new sets of devices so us to remain effective in the areas of specializations. I have noticed that some of these changes in technology occur courtesy of the manufacturers of the devices who want us to keep buying their products from time to time thus ensuring they remain afloat. This is referred to as planned obsolesce. In a bid to accomplish this, they keep on changing certain aspects of their machines so that when mine breaks down for one reason or the other, I will have to buy a new one since the old one will not be repairable. They may also modify certain aspects of their devices hence making the old model look out of fashion, thereby triggering the need to buy the newest device. This is referred to as perceived obsolesce
My consumption behavior and that of my institution either in the electronics, stationery, clothes or whatever else are bound to have an impact on the environment. This could happen indirectly, in the extraction process or directly in the disposal of these products. I have realized that when we keep using these products for short terms, we exert pressure on producers to produce more which implies that more pressure will be exerted on the extraction process which consequently leads to depletion of resources. When natural resources are depleted, producers will look for substitutes to use in the production process in order to handle the rising market need hence using low quality raw materials which could have more toxic elements that would pollute the environment. The environment could also be polluted on the other end, during the disposal stage. Burning or burying of the used up products are the two methods used to get rid of the used-up product. Burning will release the toxic element to the atmosphere which will be inhaled by people thus impacting negatively on our health. Burying the used- up products will transfer the toxic elements to the soil and consequently to the plants which will grow on that soil, or to the water table which will end up being used by humans or animals thus impacting negatively on health.
My institution provides a ready market for the producers hence motivating them to continue producing more. As a consequence, some people somewhere will be made to work for long hours and be exposed to toxic substances for much longer without good compensation. This is as a result of the reduced prices that the producers sell their products at so as to keep them flowing. I have established that they then pass this burden to their workers and suppliers who, due to the harsh economic times, will have no option but take the pea nuts in exchange for their services and raw materials respectively. The fact that employees of the producer will be working for long means that they will have less time to spend with their families and loved ones which in effect leads to the weakening of the social fabric.
I have noted that though recycling could mitigate the dire situation and reduce the impact and intensity of the crisis, some products cannot be recycled due to their nature.
Developing a Work Target
I have learnt that in order to be effective and efficient in any given work, it is imperative to plan in advance. Planning helps in consolidating the resources that will be required for the task’s accomplishment as well as giving the people concerned an opportunity analyze the possible challenges that could arise and how the they could, possibly, be mitigated. Choosing a career is more or less the same, I have to consider my strengths and weaknesses against various career options and ask myself if I will be comfortable doing a certain thing for all my life.
Since filling the career workbook, I have identified accountant and actuary as my preferred occupational choices. This was after a keen analysis of my interests, strengths and values and gauging their compatibility with the different occupational choices that could be available.
Ethical Issues in Professional Working
I have observed that every profession has its prescribed values and ethics that govern its operations. In fields such as accounting, high levels of integrity and honesty are required as they deal with very sensitive financial information (Yeung and Tung 2006). Accountants are expected to state the true financial standing of a firm on the basis of which investors are going to make investment decisions and the government be able to levy taxes. In this light, accountants are expected to be highly responsible.
I have also realized that irresponsibility and malpractices in many professions is a result of the ‘wrong’ people entering into the profession and whose primary motivation is financial gain. This is particularly so due to the escalating levels of unemployment that is continuously being witnessed in most parts of the world. In order to ensure that we don’t have rogue accountants, for instance, accounting firms should set high criteria in hiring of personnel and put more emphasis on training its workforce on professional responsibility and ethics.
The above propositions apply to many professions across the board. One has got to prepare psychologically before committing to any career and ask himself if he is ready to play by the set guidelines and serve the interests of their clients and of the other stakeholders instead of their own selfish interests (Platt 2003). This would, in my opinion, lead to reduced professional malpractices and consequently better services that will leave the clients and other stakeholders more satisfied.
People should use their careers in pursuit of values that are deeply rooted in the societies within which the business operate. Professions should not be used to further selfish interest and amass material wealth for individuals but should rather be used to propagate the timeless values and principles embedded in a community to which a price tag can not be attached (Platt 2003). Professionals should therefore make the interests and the wellbeing of the society their core business.
I have observed that in business, one needs to establish a good relationship with his customers in order to encourage repeated sales. A good reputation is an indispensable asset that every firm aspires to have (Velasquez 2002). In this respect, the firm should strive to meet its societal obligations and not merely focus on increasing its profit margins. It is, however, important to point out that professionalism should be exercised at all times in the course of doing business. Personal friendship and interests that could contravene the moral and legal values of the society should be avoided.
I learnt of a friendship based kind of business, Guanxi, which is mostly popular in East. In this kind of business, players are perceived to offer business opportunities to their partners depending on what benefits they will get in return (Yi and Ellis 2003). It is a practice in which individuals are seen to practice nepotism through giving business favors like awarding of contracts to relatives and close friends of those concerned. In doing this, the rightful candidates for the particular business opportunities who would have merited if justice was upheld are denied the opportunity of fair consideration. This practice also encourages corruption in terms of giving bribery in order to land a lucrative business offer.
I realized that money or other valuables, in this friendship-based kind of business, could also change hands in exchange of vital information that is not in the public domain. This could be a firm’s guarded information about its cash flows, imminent mergers, splitting etc that would really interest the current and potential investors as it would help them make important investment decisions. The giving out of such information in exchange of personal benefits is a great injustice to the other investors as the insider trading fuelled by such information is going to have a direct implication on their investments.
The above malpractices are not only illegal in any government but are also morally wrong. We should never, as business people, allow our parochial interests to override those of the wider society. Professionals in the business should instead view themselves as custodians of important societal values that should be passed on from one generation to the next. We should always put the societal wellbeing first and confine our business actions to the morally and legally right. This, however, does not mean that business people should not have friendships with their customers; it only implies that care must be exercised not to overstep the boundaries.
I also noted that countries engage in business with other countries. They also establish friendships based on mutual agreements and benefits. Any business dealings done between these countries have to respect the values and rights of the other country. Proponents of the Guanxi business however equate this to their system and use it as a justification for their kind of business practice (Chris 2004).
I noted that business does not operate in a vacuum. It operates within a system where it interacts with forces such as the government, the community, the economy and among others. These forces influence the way the firm conducts its operations and in a way could determine the level of its success depending on how well the business enterprise interacts with these factors. Though the chief objective of any business venture is to make profits, the firm, during its operations should fulfill its obligations to the other parties. It should comply with existing tax regimes to avoid possible closures or heavy fines due to tax default or failure to comply with the set trade policies. The business enterprise should also be willing and ready to fulfill its societal obligations so as to promote a positive image as it transforms the life of the community within which it operates. In its operations, a business enterprise should strive to uphold best practices and help the in eradicating evils such as corruption and nepotism. Business should be handled with utmost professionalism and all customers and potential customers treated fairly, without any preferential treatment based on personal friendships. People, whether producers or consumers, should, in their small way, contribute towards reducing air, land and water pollution caused by thoughtless use and disposal of products manufactured using toxic substances. We should endeavor to use renewable energy, have zero wastage and make use of local living economies that are more sustainable.