Cite some ethical and social responsibility that might be faced by small-business managers with their environment, customers, and employees?

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The environment has become a very important issue these days, especially after so much attention was raised by the Extinction Rebellion movement towards the fact that the planet is in a very dire situation. Therefore, small businesses, just like anybody else, most definitely have a responsibility with regard to looking...

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The environment has become a very important issue these days, especially after so much attention was raised by the Extinction Rebellion movement towards the fact that the planet is in a very dire situation. Therefore, small businesses, just like anybody else, most definitely have a responsibility with regard to looking after the environment.

Naturally, this depends very much on the goods a business is dealing with. For example, a business selling food could aim to keep their carbon footprint as low as possible by avoiding selling goods that have to be imported by airplane. Instead, they could aim to mainly sell locally-produced food. Businesses could also keep an eye on the use of plastic within their business; for example, by substituting plastic shopping bags with paper bags or by allowing customers to reuse their own containers. Switching to renewable energy sources, such as solar power, could also be a step towards a more environmentally friendly business, especially if combined with reduced energy consumption.

With regard to customers, the ethical and social responsibility of managers is to ensure that their customers are getting the best product possible. It might be tempting for a business to sell goods of reduced quality, because they are often cheaper. However, to ensure their customers are happy and don’t waste their money on something that is not of good quality, business managers really should ensure that they only sell goods which they would consider buying themselves.

Business managers provide their employees with jobs and income. However, their responsibility doesn’t just stop there. As part of their ethical and social responsibility, managers should ensure that they pay their employees a fair salary and don’t take advantage of their workers. Working hours need to be distributed evenly and fairly, allowing for sufficient breaks.

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Business ethics and social responsibility are two factors that complement each other in running a business. Ethics describes those actions that are considered acceptable in the office environment while social responsibility refers to the firm’s obligation to stakeholders. Generally, ethical rules and guidelines are created for the benefit of stakeholders.

An ethical issue that may be faced by a small-business manager in the environment is resource wastage. There are times when the manager may be tempted to use the office printer for personal purposes. Even if the business belongs to the manager, he or she must set a good example for his or her employees. Since the employees are well aware of what goes on in the office, the manager should avoid using company resources for personal use. When it comes to social responsibility, the manager should make sure that there is proper disposal of waste for environmental conservation purposes.

Managers may also face ethical issues when dealing with customers; for example, a client may want to bribe the manager so that they get special treatment. In the spirit of fairness and equality, the manager should always insist that the client use the proper channels. When it comes to social responsibility, the business has a professional duty to the customer. Clients should be given the best service when they interact with the firm.

Other times, the manager may have to deal with ethical issues that involve the employees. Since workers are human, they are bound to disagree on some things. In solving the conflict, the manager should listen to both sides before passing fair judgment. As for social responsibility, the manager is obliged to compensate the employees fairly.

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Small businesses face many of the same ethical and social issues as their larger brethren. They might also face issues unique to their industry or location. Also, small business leaders cannot veil themselves from the public via layers of bureaucracy, a la CEOs of huge corporations, so they must ultimately face unsatisfied customers themselves.

Ethical responsibility begins with the nature of the business. Is it marketing vaping products to teenagers? Producing solar energy? It extends to the conduct of owners and employees. Is there a special "cash price?" Is the business accessible and responsive? Does it charge fair prices? Pay fair wages? And so on.

Examples of social responsibility include supporting a local charity, sponsoring a youth sports team, and hosting fundraisers and parties. To support the environment, businesses could reduce their carbon footprint, or use only recycled paper, or reduce waste, and so on. None of these are required to own a small business, but being a responsible corporate citizen improves reputation—and hopefully the bottom line. Even if a small-business owner doesn't want to get involved in the community, he or she should at least keep the storefront/office clean and presentable and treat all customers with respect.

Finally, small businesses have a responsibility to their employees. There is strong incentive to retain workers, as the cost of finding and training new ones is very high. Small business owners have legal responsibilities to employees, of course, but the best take extra steps to attract and retain good people. For example, a business might donate money for an employee's education, or give generous vacation, or offer steady raises and a path for promotion.

All of these are examples of potential problems or issues that small-business owners might face. Their biggest responsibility, however, is to stay afloat. For most small businesses, success is generating enough profit each month to meet payroll and taxes, with a little something left over to save or reinvest.

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A fundamental predicament faced by small businesses revolves around the notion of being intimately connected with employees and stakeholders and then being consumed with profit making motives.  Naturally, a balance should be and can be struck where both elements can be present.  However, an ethical challenge that small businesses face would be how to navigate the desire to remain true to their particular niche or vision and the passion to increase profitability.  This becomes a central challenge for all small businesses because their intimate nature is one of connection with clients and employees.  At the same time, the desire to increase profit underscores this particular commitment to nature and identity.

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