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Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder-illustrate and explain.
The concept of beauty is subjective and ‘Beauty is skin deep’ it can be a very controversial quote to some people, because, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Every individual interprets beauty from their very own perspective. For some one physical beauty can be an influential factor, where as for other people, inner or skin deep beauty is more important. It is mentioned that the concept of beauty varies from person to person, so as the inner and outer beauty. Here, in this research paper I have tried to find out the issues of skin deep beauty related to ethics. I have also attempted to explore the definition and conception related to beauty from business perspective. I tried to find out what organizations consider as beauty, what features they prefer most for their products and services (inner/ surface beauty). I tried to explore (business perspective) whether a company should just focus on the outer beauty (publicity, packaging, labeling of any product, service or employees) or, the inner beauty (quality, behavior, attitude and talent of any product, service or employees). This assignment also includes a brief discussion about the ethical theories basically normative theories related to these issues. In case of business, companies should follow the ethics and must not just manufacture fancy appealing goods that do not have any quality inside. If a company is manufacturing and supplying that quality products or services with the best packaging and leveling respectively only to attract customers and push them to buy their products or have their services it will be surely an unethical practice because with low quality products the customers cannot fulfill their desired purposes or demand. Same thing must be applicable in case of employee selection procedure. Employers should recruit employees based on their merit and intellect, not depending on their outlook. Finally, organizations should go with the corporate social responsibilities (CSR) to serve the society as well as the nation not to build a better image of their company which mainly depicts the outer surface beauty rather than the underlying beauty.
1. Research Topic:
For this course (Business Ethics) the given research topic is “Beauty is Skin deep”. Here, my task is to justify the given statement with ethical theories and current examples based on recent practices in corporate ground.
2. Research Methodology:
3.1 Primary Data Collection:
While doing my research, for primary data collection, the study was grounded in survey data obtained from the selected samples (university students and people who are currently working in various organizations, NGOs and people doing or related to business). I have prepared a research questionnaire to gain insight from these people about the importance of inner or surface beauty in business practice and what are their opinions regarding skin deep beauty and outer beauty in corporate cultures related to the respective organizations products, services as well as employees.
3.2 Secondary Data Collection:
For my secondary research, I have consulted and took information from various scholarly online journals, articles and books related to business ethics.
3. Analysis of the responses (Graphical Portrait):
There were 100 respondents (samples) who have answered my research questionnaire where most of the questions were open ended. Respondents answered the questions from various points of view. I have broken down in my questionnaire into four parts: Generic Perspective, Product/ Services, Corporate ground (Employees) and Corporate Social Responsibilities related to business ethical issues. And the respondents also tried to answer those questions considering the research topic that is ‘Beauty is Skin deep’ related to recent business culture and practice. I have analyzed the responses and the summery is as below with graphical representation.
4.1 Beauty is Subjective
Respondents defined beauty from two major perspectives – 1. Individual/ Generic perspective, 2. Product or Service oriented. Most of the respondents said, beauty is physical attractiveness that attracts people and gives pleasure to the mind and senses. Beauty can be inform of shape, color, size and even can be the inner qualities (behavior, attitude, talent etc.). But beauty is subjective, so it varies from person to person. In case of product or services, beauty is the outer or surface appearance or how good it looks or sometimes it can be the durability and performance (inner beauty).
But for some people, beauty is not just anything that only reflects the surface appearance (in case of objects) or the physical appearance (individuals). These issues came up while answering the three following questions.
1. How do you define “Beauty”?
2. Do you think beauty should stay skin deep or the physical beauty is more important?
3. What should be the base (inner or physical beauty) in case of judging an individual or any other things?
Many respondents said, beauty should stay skin deep. Because true beauty comes up from the core. It is something that reflects a person’s inner beauty such as thoughts, emotions and attitudes. Similarly it is also applicable for products and services (working capacity, quality and durability which comprise the inner beauty). Products with appealing surfaces just cannot help customers rather quality can ensure the satisfaction. So, majority of the respondents’ answers exhibit that inner beauty is something that should be the base while judging a person or a product.
4.2 Physical Beauty: A Key to Short Term Success
Here the related questions were –
4. As a customer, do you think companies are giving more emphasis on the physical beauty (publicity, packaging, labeling) over the inner beauty (quality, features) in case of their product and services?
5. Do you think it is ethical or unethical?
6. Why companies are giving more emphasis on physical beauty?
After analyzing the answers I came up with a gist that is, most of the respondents as customers think some companies are more prone to give importance on the physical appearance of a product or an appealing publicity of services. Respondents argue that, it is unethical these malpractices should be stopped. Around 67% respondents said that, companies are giving more emphasis on the physical beauty over the inner beauty, around 30% think that ‘No’, companies are not giving priority only on physical beauty over the inner beauty. And the remaining 3% said they have no idea about it.
On the other side, almost majority of the respondents (98%) considered it is unethical to attract customers for short term profit maximization by exhibiting appealing goods without any type of conformance and quality that make the real demand.
Companies who are offering appealing goods with no other demand fulfilling features are just trying to capture market with a low cost. Because it is likely that their cutting cost by using cheap raw materials and other cheap components and only putting focus on the product cover. In this unethical way, companies are making short term financial success which is not expected.
4.3 Skin deep Beauty for Sustainability
The given phrase depicts the summer of the following questions –
7. As a customer, how will you judge a product/ service?
8. What are the reasons behind your choice?
9. What should be the motto of the companies while producing products and delivering the products and services?
Respondents answered that, they are more likely to judge a product or service based on its capacity to fulfill their unsatisfied needs through working capacity, durability, performance etc. And these are the components which create the inner beauty. Surface beauty or the outer appearance does not matter for consumers while consuming a product. 88% voted for skin deep or inner beauty, another 10% voted for both beauties and only a minority of the respondents (2%) voted for the physical appearance of the product.
The reasons for giving emphasis on inner or skin deep beauty I have found after analyzing the answers are as follow –
§ Quality is a special attribute.
§ Performance and durability are two driving factors for product consumption.
§ Surface appearance is important but it cannot outweigh the inner attributes of a product.
§ Good attributes and features are major items that can meet consumers’ needs and demands.
Respondents think companies aim should be to meet customers’ unsatisfied demand in every possible ways rather than just fulfilling self interest (i.e. short term profit) while producing products and delivering them. Because if companies can ensure customer satisfaction, they can surely build up a good relationship with their customers, can eventually retain them so the companies can sustain in the competitive market.
4.4 Beauty Stays beneath the Surface
The research questions those are focused here for the analysis are given below –
10. Do you think only physical appearance/ outlook matter in the organizations?
11. If your answer is ‘Yes’, how do you consider it (ethical/ unethical)?
The world is becoming smaller and communications are something without which no such advancement can take place. People now a day are more attracted toward physical beauty, and in case of business ground, many organizations are putting emphasis on the outlook of the employees as they have to communicate and deal with many other people. Here, for this respective question, 62% said that physical appearance matters in the organizations. Because they think, employees have to deal with client or customers and convince them for various business purposes and these respondents think it is ethical as well. 49% respondents said it is ethical and there is no harm with these where as rest of respondents (51%) considered it as unethical to give priority only on outlook of the employees for client handling and communication. Rather they think intelligence attitude and merit do matter for these. Though the numbers of respondents voted for ethical or unethical dilemma are so close but the number varies for the importance of outlook in the organizations. 30% respondents said ‘No’, physical appearance does not matter, another 4% said sometimes it matters and rest of the 4% has no idea about the issue.
Whatever the answers are it is clear that the inner beauty sometimes really covered by the surface beauty but that should not be the case. People must remember that appearance can be deceptive and followed by only outlook people can make severe mistakes so companies observe the employees real beauty. Because actual beauty stays beneath the surface.
4.5 Favoritism towards the Outlook
The given statement is based on the following research questions –
12. Do you think employers of the organizations are more interested to select their potential employees considering their outlooks?
13. Employee’s inner beauty or outlook/ physical appearance – which will be given more priority in the organizations?
14. What are the reasons for it?
15. If your answer is ‘Yes’, do you think it is ethical or unethical?
The findings illustrate that, most of the employers are now biased toward the outer appearance by selecting potential employees (answered by 57% of the total respondents). And rest of the 43% respondents said there is no favoritism indeed towards the physical attractiveness. Though most of the respondents think it is a common practice, actually a malpractice which should be stopped. Just the previous issue, respondents think a company can run successfully and serve in the best way through talented and intellectual employees. And a clear support is seen, when it is being asked to the respondents whether it is ethical or unethical to hire employees based on their outlook. 100% of the respondents voted against the issue that it is undoubtedly unethical to recruit employees depending on their outlook. So, it is almost justified that companies must stop practicing this and selects the right people for the right job.
4.6 CSR for Welfare
Two research questions related to CSR are as follows –
16. Why companies are moving towards CSR now-a-days?
17. What is your overall opinion about CSR? Do you think it is really beneficial for the society?
Many organizations now a day play an important role in the society by serving the public good. They provide the human resources that enhance the quality of life in communities around the globe. To fulfill this mission organizations contribute financially. <href=”#_ftn1″ name=”_ftnref1″ title=””>This Corporate Philanthropy includescash contributions, donation of equipments and products and supporting the volunteer efforts of company employees. These CSR activities can have many positive benefits beyond the purely altruistic rewards of giving, such as higher employee morale, enhanced company image and improved customer relationships.
53% of the respondents think, companies do CSR for social welfare, 40% respondents said companies moving towards CSR only for publicity and the remaining 7% said both are the reasons to be attached with CSR. Respondents have vivid point of view regarding CSR. Many of them consider it as an indirect tool for creating brand equity. But at the same time many people think it is beneficial for the society. For instance, in our country Dutch Bangla Bank spending almost taka 100 crore every year for arranging the scholarships of the meritorious students. Though there is always a controversy that big companies are involved in CSR for only building brand awareness. But analyzing the current scenario, it is observed that yes; people of the society are benefited in some ways by these CSR activities. It would be wise for the companies to focus more on the social works rather than making the publicity of their brand name. And in this way, they can reduce the controversy and bring out the inner beauty of charitable works for collective welfare.
4. Research Findings:
After analyzing all the answers based on my survey questionnaire the findings I have got are quite interesting. It portraits that people are not much conscious about inner beauty. For a better understanding I have divided the findings in four segments.
In general most of the respondents said that, beauty is related to facial attractiveness though it is better not to judge an individual by his outlook. Because beauty actually stays beneath the skin which truly demonstrate a person’s attitude, talent and other qualities.
5.2 Product/ Service
After analyzing the outcomes it is observed that, though many people as customers sometimes look for the outer appearance of the good or interested to take a service that has a better publicity. But in some cases, outer appearance is useless unless the product fulfills the consumer needs with their inner quality, unique features and attributes which build the inner beauty.
At the same time, manufacturing firms should be ethical while manufacturing products and delivering services. Firms should be focused on quality product that best meet the consumer demand rather just making appealing ones. Firms should not just make lucrative ads that attract target audience and push them to buy their offerings. It is important for the firms to be particular about their offerings and maintain a good relationship with customers that drive the company towards long term success. Companies now a day are more interested to in attaining short term goals that can harm the society. So, it is firm’s responsibility to act ethically.
5.3 Employee Recruitment
Recently a malpractice is playing a devastating role in corporate ground while selecting employees. Many firms are prone to select good looking employees rather choosing the best candidate for the job. This biasness is destroying the systems due to inactivity of the wrong employees. But now people are becoming more aware about such issues and they think this practice should be stopped and the administration should proceed fairly with the employee selection procedure for the betterment of the firm as well as society.
5.4 Corporate Social Responsibilities
CSR is a recent trend followed by many medium and large companies. By CSR organizations are spending huge fund for social benefits. People think firms are mainly involved in CSR only to create a brand identity. Though the society and the nation are getting benefits from CSR but companies must be sure enough that they are doing it without any intention to make profit. Companies should be careful in spending their funds for the collective welfare that will surely flourish the inner beauty under the name of their brand identity and a better place to work for<href=”#_ftn2″ name=”_ftnref2″ title=””>.
5. Recent Practice and Ethical theories:
If we look at the recent practices or trends in business or corporate world, we can observe many of the organizations are highly attached to the outlook or surface beauty of the products. Most of the organizations are now focused to short term profit by attracting customer anyways rather than focusing on what actually satisfy the customer need. Companies are tend to hire employees by outlook. In case of employee selections sometimes the employer tends to recruit potential employees depending on their physical attributes not qualifications and intellect. On the other hand in case of corporate social responsibilities some companies only target is to build their company image by social works but that should not be the case. Organizations must focus on the inner beauty while serving the nation and society by CSR activities (i.e. education, scholarship, building hospitals, tube wells, vaccination campaigns etc). Companies must follow up the process of CSR activities to check whether the social demand in made or not and they must not focus on building own organization image other publicity. <href=”#_ftn3″ name=”_ftnref3″ title=””>Companies have CSR, mainly due to following reasons –
§ Corporations perceived as being socially responsible might be rewarded with more satisfied customers.
§ Employees might be attracted to work.
§ Making a positive contribution to society might be regarded as a long term investment.
But here it must be mentioned that not all the companies all over the world are involved in CSR activities only for creating positive image or making publicity. Many companies such as BAT Bangladesh and Rahimafrooz (in context of Bangladesh) are involved in various humanitarian activities not putting emphasis on their name rather than focusing on their charitable works.
<href=”#_ftn4″ name=”_ftnref4″ title=””>BAT Bangladesh is currently dealing with-
Ø Safe drinking water (Probaho)
Ø Sustainable Agriculture
<href=”#_ftn5″ name=”_ftnref5″ title=””>Rahimafrooz is contributing in the following areas-
Ø Education (RSF model school and college)
Ø Poverty Alleviation
Ø Environment (Protibesh Utshob and 3R etc)
Ø Transport (Make Road Safer)
These phenomena can be described by two major consequentialist normative theories. Below I have briefly demonstrated two normative theories.
When most of the companies are focusing on attracting customers by appealing physical attributes of products or building good images for their companies by CSR activities they are just following ‘Egoism’. Egoism is one of the two normative theories contributed by Adam smith. Following the theory of Egoism an action is morally right if the decision maker freely decides in order to pursue either their desires or interests. When companies are more focused on outer or physical beauty just to attain their profit margin or fulfilling self interest they are complying with egoism.<href=”#_ftn6″ name=”_ftnref6″ title=””> Because self interest, individual desires and maximizations of desires are the ruling factors of this theory.
For the betterment of the society and nation and to be successful in the long run companied must focus on the inner beauty of their products and services, employees as well as the inner beauty of their activities such as CSR. When companies are manufacturing products with better qualities serving, providing services with greater feature, select employees according to their merit not outlook, run CSR activities for virtuous purpose not for building good organization image. All these mean, they are giving importance on the underline quality that is skin deep beauty that serves the purpose based not only the companies own interest and by doing these companies will prove that they are devoted to collective welfare. It is called ‘Utilitarianism’ that is one of the two major consequentialist normative theories provided by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.<href=”#_ftn7″ name=”_ftnref7″ title=””> It has been very powerful since it puts at the center of the moral decision a variable that is very commonly used in economics as a parameter (utility).
It is the inner and surface beauties that are complement to each other. But in some cases inner beauty can win the situations by its own potential. Because the skin deep beauty is something that is not visible but useful for every purposes. As it says, people can judge a product or person in a ways he or she wants, but the true judgment must be based on what lies beneath the outer surface.
6. Recommendation and Conclusion:
The research findings and current business practice show us a controversial scenario. Though in one side, respondents (as customers) want to have quality products and services with good features and qualities, companies sometimes try to attract customers with only appealing physical appearance of the products or by huge publicity of the services. But undoubtedly, it is an unethical practice. Because without any inner beauty such as underlying features and qualities a product with only surface attractiveness can never fulfill the demand of the target customers. So, companies should be more aware and devoted to provide a product service to their target customers which will be a complete blend of inner and surface beauty. But in reality it is not always possible to combine both beauties at a time. So the best practice in this case should be to provide at least quality products that are capable to serve the customers’ purposes in the best possible way.
We can see now a day employers of many organizations put much emphasis on selecting employees with better outlook and failed to hire the competitive ones. In corporations, the employers must pay attention on intellectual, talented and motivated employees who have such skill to serve for the betterment of the company and help to gain profitably in the long run. Personal choices or interest and specific intention to hire the employees with only good physical appearance is undoubtedly unethical so as it should be highly discouraged. The companies should focus on their corporate social responsibilities (CSR) strictly with a virtuous intention to serve the society and the nation in broader perspective. Organizations should not concentrate on their own interest (such as media coverage and publicity) while attending the social works and activities just to gain short run profitability. Because their proper work will uphold their beauty not the outer media coverage or publicity.
Beauty is skin deep, it is true. But the physical beauty can harmonize with inner beauty but it is not a driving factor. This is also justified by ethical theories. Because a fake cover of beauty can never be useful unless there are some talent, intellect, quality and attributes which constitute the inner beauty and serves the purposes of the organizations possibly in the best way
1. Boone, G. & Kurtz, D. (2005) “Contemporary Business.” 11th ed. South-Western Publications.
2. Crane, A. & Matten, D. (2010) “Business Ethics: Managing Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability in the Age of Globalization.” 3rd Ed. Oxford University Press.
3. Parker, B. (1998) “Globalization and Business Practice: Managing Across Boundaries.” London, Sage.
4. Parkinson, J. E. (1993) “Corporate Power and Responsibility.” Oxford University Press.
5. Werhane, P. H. (1998) Moral Imagination and the search for Ethical Decision making in Management. “Business Ethic Quarterly.” Ruffin Series.
<href=”#_ftnref1″ name=”_ftn1″ title=””> See Boone, G. & Kurtz, D. “Contemporary Business.” 11th ed. South Western Publications. Page 52, last Para.
<href=”#_ftnref2″ name=”_ftn2″ title=””> See Crane, A. & Matten, D, “Business Ethics: Managing Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability In the Age of Globalization.” 3rd Ed. Oxford University Press. Page 51, 3rd Para.
<href=”#_ftnref3″ name=”_ftn3″ title=””> See Crane, A. & Matten, D, “Business Ethics: Managing Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability In the Age of Globalization.” 3rd Ed. Oxford University Press. Page 51, 3rd Para.
<href=”#_ftnref4″ name=”_ftn4″ title=””> See http://www.batbbangladesh.com
<href=”#_ftnref5″ name=”_ftn5″ title=””> See http://www.rahimafrooz.com
<href=”#_ftnref6″ name=”_ftn6″ title=””> See Crane, A. & Matten, D, “Business Ethics: Managing Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability In the Age of Globalization.” 3rd Ed. Oxford University Press. Page 100, 2nd Para.
<href=”#_ftnref7″ name=”_ftn7″ title=””> See Crane, A. & Matten, D, “Business Ethics: Managing Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability In the Age of Globalization.” 3rd Ed. Oxford University Press. Page 101, last Para.