Date of this Version
The last 50 years have witnessed a dazzling array of social ethical revolutions in Western society. Such moral movements as feminism, civil rights, environmentalism, affirmative action, consumer advocacy, pro- and anti-abortion activism, homosexual rights, children‘s rights, the student movement, antiwar activism, public rejection of biotechnology, have forever changed the way governments and pubic institutions comport themselves. This is equally true for private enterprise: to be successful, businesses must be seen as operating solidly in harmony with changing and emerging social ethics. It is arguable that morally based boycotting of South African business was instrumental in bringing about the end of apartheid, and similar boycotting of some farm products in the U.S. led to significant improvements in the living situations of farm workers. It is de rigeur for major corporations to have reasonable numbers of minorities visibly peopling their ranks, and for liquor companies to advertise on behalf of moderation in alcohol consumption. Cigarette companies now press upon the public a message that cigarettes kill, and extol their involvement in protecting battered women; and forestry and oil companies spend millions (even billions) to persuade the public of their environmental commitments.