Carrying out certain business operations, every enterprise has to follow the established ethical principles, which are also known as the Caux Round Table Principles of Ethics. There are 13 of them on the whole, and their overall essence is in the fact that business companies should be driven not only by their own interests but as well by the needs of their stakeholders, their customers, suppliers, etc. Business companies should also be ethical in relation to society, its laws and regulations, and the environmental issues it experiences. Considering the official website of the Coca-Cola Company, it is obvious that this organization tries to and succeeds in its attempt to conform to at least three initial ethical principles under consideration (Coca-Cola, 2009). These principles include the company’s respect for its stakeholders beyond shareholders, contribution to the social, economic, and environmental development of the community, and respect to the letter and the spirit of the law.
Thus, the first of the 13 Caux Round Table Principles of Ethics states that a company should exercise respect to all its stakeholders, whether they are shareholders or not. Moreover, this principle promotes the idea of the responsibility that every reputable company should take for the contribution to society by creating its wealth, increasing employment levels, and satisfying the needs of the customers. According to Principle 1, the responsible company is to consider the interests and demands of all its stakeholders and build honest relations with its suppliers, distributors, customers, and the whole community it operates within. The overview of the Coca-Cola vision and values and the consideration of the results of the company’s work in 2008 allow stating that the Coca-Cola Company succeeds in putting Principle 1 into practice in its performance.
Thus, the company’s vision states that the most important for Coca-Cola is to “nurture a winning network of customers and suppliers, together we create mutual, enduring value” (Coca-Cola, 2009b). Even in such a general document as the company’s vision, Coca Cola stresses the importance of the “mutual” work and considers itself, its partners, and customer to be the integrated network of the cooperators whose work is aimed at reaching the ultimate goal of the company, i. e. to “refresh the world, to inspire the moments of optimism and happiness, create value, and make difference” (Coca Cola, 2009b). These goals are rather generalized but the financial performance of the company evidence that they are being achieved as the gross profit of the company grew from $14,068 million in 2004 to $20,570 in 2008, and the dividends per share reported the $1.00 to $1.52 growth for the same time (Coca Cola, 2009a).
The second principle under consideration states that the separated development of the business organization is impossible in a society that lacks impacts or possibilities for such a development. Therefore, Principle 2 of the Caux Round Table Principles of Ethics demands a responsible organization to make contributions to the social, economic, and environmental developments of the community. By this, the organization manages to facilitate social development as well as the proliferation of its capital and updating of the social labor force equipment, establishing fair competition conditions, etc. The Coca-Cola Company successfully tries to implement this principle in its performance as well.
Thus, according to Principle 2, Coca-Cola values the development of the community as its basic goal, stating that every employee, partner, or customer should “be a responsible citizen that makes a difference by helping build and support sustainable communities” (Coca Cola, 2009b). The company values every participant of its development rather highly but also demands the full commitment from the latter in its initiatives aimed at facilitating social development. Accordingly, new and new customers are attracted by such a position of the company is community questions, which allows the per capita consumption of Coca-Cola products to grow annually. In 2008, the US per capita consumption amounted to 412 million bottles compared to 275 million in 1998 (Coca Cola, 2009a). This allows the net income of the company to grow from $4,847 million to $5,807 million between 2004 and 2008 (Coca-Cola, 2009a). The company’s officials are firm in their idea that only the community-friendly developmental program of The Coca-Cola Company allows it to enjoy such growth rates over decades.
Principle 3 of the Caux Round Table Principles of Ethics states that a responsible company is to respect the law of the country it operates in and make no exceptions for its activities, which all should absolutely be legal. According to this principle, even the formally legal activities of the company might cause law issues for its stakeholders; drawing from this, business activities of the organization are to be put in complete accordance with the law to avoid any possible ambiguities and legal issues for any of its participants. All the performance of the Coca-Cola Company ensures it is being a legal business by its being an open enterprise whose performance data and any other piece of information are freely checkable and presented for public consideration (Coca-Cola, 2009).
Values of the company also promote openness, cooperation, accountability, and monitoring of the quality of the products, by demanding to “be real” and committed to the slogan “what we do, we do well” (Coca-Cola, 2009b). As a continuation of this calling to be true to its activities, the Coca-Cola Company tries to “Be accountable for [its] actions and inactions” (Coca-Cola, 2009b), and has not been involved, at least, recently, in any legal dispute or controversy. The company is properly accountable to the country; for instance, it paid $1,632 million in income taxes and $333 million in insurance taxes in 2008 (Coca-Cola, 2009a). The Coca-Cola Company is open to public consideration and respects the law of each of the 200 countries it operates in.
Summarizing the considerations presented in this paper, it is evident that the performance of the Coca-Cola Company is carried out in accordance with the Caux Round Table Principles of Ethics. After considering the company’s conformity to only three of those principles, it is possible to state that attention to the needs of all its stakeholders focuses on the community development needs, and respect to the law are the basic values of the Coca-Cola Company. These values allow Coca-Cola to be a successful organization whose being ethical is not doubted around the world. The Coca-Cola Company grows annually in the scopes of its production and rates of its sales, and the conformity to the Caux Round Table Principles of Ethics assists the company in this growth.
Coca Cola. (2009). Official Web Site.
Coca Cola. (2009a). 2008 Year in Review. Web.
Coca Cola. (2009b). Mission, Vision, & Values. Web.