Burger King’s Position on Ethics

The Code of Conduct for Directors is Burger King’s third ethical policy document. This document details the ethical execution of the directors’ roles in the firm. The last document the Code of Ethics for Executive Officers (Appendix 1) also explains how the senior management at Burger King ought to execute their functions in an ethical manner. The document acknowledges the special challenges posed by occupying leadership positions and the ethical dilemmas faced and then details the steps that ensure ethical carriage of duties. Together, these four policy documents exhaustively establish Burger King’s position on ethics in all the firm’s operations (Investor Relations, 2009).
Surprisingly, Burger King does not expressly adopt a public position on ethics in an age where public positions on ethics are an integral part of firms’ CSR initiatives and marketing campaigns. Scrutiny reveals that Burger King’s Vice President, who heads the ethical operations of the firm, is also a public lobbyist for the company (SoundWatch, 2011). This would mean that the ethical inclinations of the firm reach the public through lobbying. Burger King’s budget on Lobbying is considerably high- $135,289 in 2010- from which we can discern maintenance of a public position on ethics through the connection of the Vice President heading ethics and being a lobbyist. However, Burger King concentrates on internal mechanisms to ensure ethical operations and does little in a public ethics position. This is a major fail on the part of the firm as issues on ethics are largely swayed by the public’s perception.
The internal guidelines on ethics revolve around guiding matters of inclusion and diversity, conflicting interests, data privacy, financial reporting, food and drink safety and quality, hiring practices, communicating with the outside world and protecting the environment among other important aspects. The internal guidelines aim at ensuring ethics forms an important part of Burger King’s company culture and hence are exhaustive, covering all possible aspects at which ethical considerations and dilemmas may arise. These Codes of Ethics policy documents for the different levels of workforce- employees, vendors, directors and executive officers- effectively cover aspects of employee-employee and employee-public interactions.
The Burger King Corporation (2009) details the internal process to follow in case of a breach of ethics. first, each employee has to understand the firm’s ethical policies. In cases where an employee discerns a breach of the firm’s ethical policy, he/she should report to the chief of ethics, compliance officer, human resource representative or attorney from the law department. Such information will only be disclosed to the relevant parties, with the reports taken seriously and promptly investigated. However, the firm’s policy does not provide a process for the public to report or make inquiries about ethical issues since a public ethics position remains largely absent.

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