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Beckton Dickinson Essay

In: Business and Management

Submitted By dpachner
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Written Assignment: Becton Dickinson: Ethics and Business Practices (A)
By David Pachner

Becton Dickinson’s stance on gifts, entertainment, and conflicts of interest is generally thorough and easy to understand. However, it does require tweaking, especially in terms of its application to cultural differences. While I believe a uniform global policy is important, the fact is that cultures differ in regards to how they do business. As one manager points out, “a gold pen that would be appropriate in the U.S. environment would be an insult in Japan.” L.S., Paine, Becton Dickinson: Ethics and Business Practices (A), (p. 10). As Trevino and Nelson explain in their book Managing Business Ethics, in Japan “giving gifts is considered to be an important point of relationship building.” (p. 402). Accordingly, I believe it would be appropriate for some of the terms to differ depending on the country in question. While the language of the policy could remain the same, a subsection could be included to specify how much money is appropriate to spend on a gift in that particular country. The same could be done for entertainment. While the BD Business Conduct and Compliance Code stipulates “you should not entertain lavishly” (Paine, p. 18), it does not go in to detail about what is considered lavish. This is where a subsection could be inserted to give the reader a more specific idea of BD’s expectations. For example, the Unites States version might read something like “When taking a supplier out to dinner, a $50 - $70 meal is considered acceptable.” Since Japanese suppliers have higher expectations, the policy for Japan could be more in the ballpark of $70-$90 per meal. At least now the employee reading the policy has an actual nominal figure to go by, instead of guessing or using his or her own judgment. One aspect of BD’s approach that I believe should be a global policy is how the company treats bribery. Just as the degree of entertainment and gift-giving varies depending on the culture, whether a company pays a bribe in a certain country may determine whether it acquires or loses business. As Trevino & Nelson point out, “American businesspeople often feel that they are at a competitive disadvantage if they don’t make such payments.” (p. 408). Nevertheless, it is important to remember that there is a clear line between legitimate marketing or lobbying activities and corruption, and anytime a bribe is solicited, offered, or paid, a company has engaged in corruption. Anti-corruption actions by groups like the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, The World Bank, The United Nations General Assembly, and The North American Development Bank prove that the international community does not tolerate bribery in any form. (Paine, p. 7-8). Therefore, it is appropriate that BD has followed suit by strictly forbidding it in all cases. I agree strongly with Trevino and Nelson when they argue that “anything that could be considered a bribe or kickback is a clear conflict of interest.” (p. 124). The only exception that BD makes for paying bribes is the “facilitating payment” clause found on page 20. According to this section of the BD Business Conduct and Compliance Code, it is acceptable to make a “small payment” to a government official in order to “expedite” or “facilitate” action under certain circumstances. (Paine, p. 20). In my opinion, BD’s stance on “facilitating payment” is appropriate because it mirrors the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), a powerful tool in preventing “representatives of U.S. corporations from offering or providing significant payment to foreign political parties, candidates, or government officials.” (Trevino & Nelson, p. 407). While I believe BD’s Compliance Committee should be responsible for communicating, monitoring, and enforcing the policy, other groups must play a part in ensuring its success. Trevino & Nelson contend “the keys to effective ethics management are commitment to ethics from the very top” and “involvement of leaders and employees at every level.” (p. 245). Consequently, the Corporate Responsibility Committee of the board directors and Business Practice coordinators must also work diligently to guarantee that the policy is understood and adhered to. More specifically, the Corporate Responsibility Committee of the board of the directors should regularly audit the practices of the Compliance Committee in an effort to guarantee that the group is meeting its goals. Similarly, the Compliance Committee must periodically review the work of the Business Practice coordinators in an effort to ensure that each and every BD employee at each and every global office is complying with the policy. In conclusion, while BD’s policy is a strong and effective safeguard against corruption, it requires some clarification as to what constitutes “lavish” and “expensive.” More specifically, it needs to be country-specific when stipulating how much money is considered acceptable for gifts and entertainment. On the contrary, BD’s stance on bribery should be universal across all nations and cultures. The Compliance Committee should be the main group tasked with communicating, monitoring, and enforcing the policy, but the board of directors and Business practice coordinators also must play key roles. As Trevino & Nelson point explain on page 409, “business flows to places that have controlled corruption…a study by the International Monetary Fund found that the higher level of corruption, the lower the level of direct foreign investment.” Thus by defeating corruption, BD will ultimately become more successful.…...

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