Mark Kay Reflection Paper


MarkKay Reflection Paper


MarkKay Reflection Paper

Ananalysis of the ethics of various companies’ decision makinginvolves the use of various ethical theories. The theories mostlyunder practice include the utilitarian and ethics of care theory.They both depend on the virtue of ethics and ethics of careprinciples. Utilitarian has quantitative characteristics with thereductionist approach to the ethics it more of entails naturalism.It is a contrast of deontological ethics and primarily focuses on theconsequences of the act as moral determinant and not virtue ethics.The virtue ethics mainly focuses on the acts and habits that lead tohappiness. The utilitarian theory goes along with the virtue ethicsand sometimes differs in few perspectives. The paper seeks to discusson the use of moral virtues in decision-makings in companies.Similarly, the author will use a case study to elaborate on thestandard application in great decision-makings in companies. Indeed,the above evidence justifies application of ethical theories indifferent decisions that companies make.

MaryKay Cosmetic Company

Companiesdecision-making experts tend to ask whether ethics can be useful forbusinesses. The ethical companies sometimes succumb to failure andsometimes not. Similarly, the unscrupulous companies also do fail dueto their unethical failures but at times not. The decision-makingseems challenging, and only the decision lies on individuality. Forexample, the case studies of Mary Kay Ash cosmetic business(Robinson, 2011).

MaryKay Ash was the sole founder of Mary Kay Inc. After being involved inthe promotion of direct selling business for twenty-five years, shetook $5000 of her savings and started a cosmetics company (Robinson,2011). The company was founded with the intention to make womenfoster their talents and more of realizing their unlimited success.Today the company has more than 3 million independent beautyconsultants globally. Ash created an organization in which everywoman has a purpose of becoming as successful as she just wanted tobe. She applied the ethics of care to portray and make every employeein her company to feel crucial. Ash, as an entrepreneur, incorporatedthe ethics of care theory in her business. She sacrificed herbusiness from collapsing just to take care of the women.

Ethicalquestion that Mary Kay confronted

MaryKay had her life dedicated to the welfare of her consumers and womenas the most beneficiaries. During her tenure at the direct salescompany, she felt nasty when her comrade, a male counterpart, waspromoted and earned double her salary. She felt that was a form ofdiscrimination against women. Therefore, she decided to start abusiness with the intention of giving a woman a chance to succeedtoo. The case of Mary Kay care tends to represent a feminist ethicsthat are mostly confused with the ethics of care. Mary Kay appliesethics theory that mostly concentrates on the competition perspective(Robinson, 2011). Similarly, it works on the aspect of masculinityand more of address the moral theories.

Thefeminist ethics theory applied by Mary Kay was primarily differingwith the gender biases of the male and female. The frustration aspectthat Mary encountered at her previous place of work made her adoptthe values as a fight back towards men. Feminist such as Ash commenton the traditional values as a sort of pre-eminently focusing on tomen’s perspective and has little regards for women’s viewpoints.All of these aspects made Ash apply feminist ethics theory. She hadaims of enriching the women’s lives. In her company, almost 99% areindependent women dealers working under small parties. Ash alwaysworked at ensuring women are recognized and rewarded through theirprofessional abilities (Robinson, 2011).

MaryKay cosmetics co. ensured that women are treated equally and aregiven chance for prosperity just as men. Business ethics is definedas the standards, value, principles, and their operation within thebusiness. Business ethics encompasses descriptive elements, as wellas normative elements. Thinking about ethics has no single set ofanswers in ethics, no single framework, or no single body oflanguage, unlike other business disciplines. The business ethics moreof acts as a truly multidisciplinary field with information differentsubjects such as economics, management and philosophy.

Thewestern ethical tradition dictates that the human capacity has rightto make rational choices. For instance, the CEO of the Mary Kay Ashused this principle in making his decision. The tradition furtherinsists that the decisions are distinctive depending on humancharacteristics. The humans not only act on the instinct andconditioning. They make free decisions on how they live their dailylives and more of about their ends. Humans have autonomy, and aresubject in the sense that they choose, act, and originate actionsdepend on their ends. Treating one as an object is more of denyingthem their unique and the essential human characteristics (Conway &ampGawronski, 2013).

Decisionmakers using ethics of care and utilitarianism theories in decisionmaking

Ethicsof care theory asserts that the people in privileged positions shouldshow care, love and concern for the less fortunate. Mary Kay and herfinance director were faced with a situation of whether to extendgrants to terminally sick employee above their normal salaries ornot. This is an ethical question which required deep analysis and awell-thought-out decision making. According to the ethics of caretheory that Mary subscribes to, it would be prudent to show care andlove by extending grants to the employees who are terminally ill.However, this presents a question of whether the company can affordsuch costs for the long haul. It also raises the question of therelationship that such grants would create between the specificemployee and the other healthy employees. Whereas the plan may helpreduce employee turnover and boast the morale for employees, it isevident that the plan may jeopardize the financial plan of the MarKay cosmetics company.

MayKay applied the theory of ethics of care to decide whether suchgrants should be extended to terminally sick employees, while thefinance manager used the utilitarian theory of ethics to determinewhether such a plan would be implemented. The two decision makersarrived at the same decision which was that such a plan was notpractical and would only plunge the company into financial problems.It is evident from research that there are companies that havedecided to pay employees even after burning down only to be declaredbankrupt in the future.

Inmaking his decision, the finance manager looked at the elements ofthe utilitarian theory and found out that any decision made must belinked to the consequences. The outcome of every decision must be forthe common good. Any decision that results in an undesirable outcomemust be discouraged. The utilitarian theory also asserts that thedecision made must respect the rights of the people. In this regard,the decision not to extend grants to the terminally ill does not goagainst their rights and it is for the common good of the company.This will be in terms of sustainability and avoiding animosityamongst employees due to salary discrepancies. If the company wouldhave decided to extend the grant to the terminally sick employees, itis evident that it would have been a financial burden. This isbecause the company does not know how many employees may suffer fromterminal illnesses in the future. By the virtue of the company havingoffered them an employment opportunity, it is testament enough thatit cares about their welfare.

MaryKay used the ethics of care theory but arrived at the same decisionas his finance manager. Whereas Mary cared for her employees andconsiders them as part of the company. She makes personal phone callsto her employees who are sick and wish them quick recovery. Thismakes employees feel extremely important. The decision or the choiceto extend grants to terminally sick employees would not be plausibleto the company. The company must be there for the long haul tocontinue offering salaries to the employees including the terminallyill employees. Both the CEO and the finance director arrived at adecision that would see the sustainability of the company for thelong haul. The company will continue to engage with the employees andoffer concern and care for them. It is paramount to make theemployees feel important and loved within the company they work for.

MaryKay and Ethical Theories

Theutilitarian theory focuses on the principles and rules that peoplefollow in deciding what they or both as individuals and as citizensshould do. The ethics theory dictates what type of person should be.The ethics basis on the virtue ethics. The virtue ethics tends to betraditional within a philosophical ethics. The virtue seeks toprovide full and more details in describing the character traits, orthe virtues that constitute of a good and full human life.

Theutilitarianism differs with the ethics virtues at some point. Inunderstanding the differences, scholars tend to concentrate on theegoism. Egoism refers to the context of people acting only due totheir self-interest (Robinson, 2011). Economists tend to assume thatall individuals more of the act due to their egoism. Indeed, manydefine the rationality itself as an act of self-interests. Thepotential gap between the altruism and self-interest are significantchallenges due to egoism. Similarly, it widens the motivation interms of self-regarding and sometimes other regarding. Ethics shouldat times work on others well-being. However, many argue that it isnot possible and that humans tend to act on their self-interestmotives.

Philosophersbelieve that human beings act in both capabilities of kindness andselfishness. Currently, most humans seem to be more compassionate andkind rather than greedy and selfish. For instance, the philosophersfrom the time of Aristotle and Plato once applied the motivationmotives to other people. An ethics of virtue develops characterhabits and traits that lead to happy and meaningful life of others.The fundamental aspect of virtue ethics includes the acquisition oftraits (Desjardins, 2013).

Relationshipof utilitarianism and Mary Kay case

Aperson’s character largely depends on his or her identity. Thecharacter depends on the values, beliefs, and one`s attitudes. Forexample, the case study of Mary Kay proves this issue. It is notmandatory for every CEO to demand an exorbitant wage. The CEO seemsto be applying the virtues and vices that are relevant to motivatingpeople. The motivation creates happiness to people’s demands.Therefore, virtues act as modesty, self-control, moderation, andhumility (Robinson, 2011).

Utilitarianismis a consequential moral theory that focuses on maximizing overallgood. Similarly, it focuses on the good of others and that ofoneself. Bentham and John Stuart Mill are the notable thinkers whotend to associate with the theory. The theory in normative theorytends to hold proper course of action that more of maximizesdifferent utilities. These utilitarian are more of hedonistic thatis they have ideas of right that bases on happiness and pleasure. Theclassic utilitarian always work on ensuring that ethical decisionmakers make decisions that will instill more pleasure to the largenumber of people (Jennings, 2014).

Accordingto Conway et al., (2013), utilitarian tends to be very close inassociation with the stakeholders. Many people sometimes use the twotheories interchangeably. The main contrast between these twoapproaches is that stakeholders never specify a desired outcome.However, utilitarian tends to specify the outcome desired. Forinstance, the utilitarian is same as the stakeholders except that itfollows certain rules that promote best rather than more generalassertion of promoting desired outcomes through rules.

Accordingto Conway et al (2013), utilitarianism is a sub-category of astakeholder’s theory. It means that the theory has many of the samedrawbacks and benefits. There are particular problems that seemspecific to utilitarianism. They are illustrated with examples ofdrawbacks with hypothetical situations. The examples of drawback andbenefits involve hypothetical illustrations (Kay n.d).

First,utilitarian tends to justify the making of the decision that more ofviolate persons’ human rights (Jennings, 2014). For instance, whatseems useful to some people can more have violated the rights ofothers. A case study of a wealthy person in need of an organtransplant can be a real example. In case, a wealthy person agrees tooffer donations of a large sum of money in exchange of being top onthe list of organ transplants.

Theperson according to the utilitarian should top the list of ethics.Conway et al (2013) findings argue that the reason behind is thatmore good tends to come because of a wealthy person receiving theorgan than it would be if the second person on the list receives thebody. On contrary, the second person on the list also has a mandateto receive an organ. Therefore, it is unfair for the rich person totake advantage of his wealth to infringe the less fortune.

Anotherproblem with the utilitarianism is that it more of requires animpartial decision maker. The total impartiality never allows specialrelationships like that of friends or family. The decision makermostly considers the good of people who are close before stakeholdersthat are more distant (Kay, n.d). Additionally, utilitarianism facescriticism as it relates to only answering the question ‘what choicetends to be right?’ It is contrary in place of answering, ‘whatdecision should bring the most pleasure, well, or happiness?’ Thesetwo questions are not similar. It is not logic that one of the twoanswers will answer the other (Robinson, 2011).

UtilitarianTheory Applications

Thetheory of utilitarian is mostly applied in calculations of whether itis ethical to save a private company from succumbing to bankruptcy(Conway et al., 2013). The estimates tend to illustrate on the usageof utilitarian in considering all the short and long-term effects.For example, the bailout of general motors’ involves application ofthe unitary theory in decision-making. The theory tends to define thetaxpayers’ money. Similarly, Robinson (2011) posits that the theorydetermines the stakeholders who might be affected. For example, thestakeholders may include the government, employees, or taxpayers.

Thenegative perspective is the effects of general moral hazard. Decisionmaking in large private companies is more of risky as they takeadvantage of the bailing from government. The government sees them astoo big to fail. In a place where bankruptcy does not exist thenfirms are likely to evaluate the risks incorrectly (Robinson, 2011).The positive aspect of Unitarian decision-making in the GeneralMotors tends to be diverse. The case of unemployment may notskyrocket, and thus the government will not pay unemployment benefitsthus economy will never spiral down.

Jennings(2014) argues that there should be need on considering whether thepositive consequences outweigh the negative ones. The considerationwill facilitate arriving of unitary decision that defines theethicality in the government to bailout the GM. The decision willnaturally create most happiness or product to a greater number ofpeople.

Utilitarianismwith Ethics of Care

Ethicsof care are ideas that concern both the normative ethical theory andmorality. These ideas reflect more of have caring perspectives. Theviews are distinctive in that they use contextual-bound andrelational approach towards decision-making and morality. In doingso, this perspective tends to contrast with ethical theories such asutilitarianism. Other theories may include Kantian deontology andjustice theory (Desjardin set, 2013).

Scholarsposit that caring is the support for morality and base on humanity.The impulse of caring in many companies decision making seemsuniversal. Therefore, caring ethics becomes different to the chargeof moral relativism and moves close to the virtue theory. The ethicsof care entails the particularity of relations as a fundamentalaspect. It has two people, the cared-for and caregiver. The balancingefforts tend to minimize harms that may result from making decisionsthat may even be maximizing benefits. In the case of Mary Kay, thegreatest happiness principle tends to be a pillar for companiesdecision making

Stakeholdersand utilitarianism are the most commonly used in decision-making. Itis natural and logical for every person to think of the consequencestaking actions before acting (Robinson, 2011). However, these twoethical theories tend to have their weaknesses, and their applicationshould be in combination with the other normative ethical frameworks.In many cases, the moral choices that each theory recommends aresimilar.

Ethicsof care and stakeholders theory

Studiesdiscuss on the relevance of managing the ethics of care in theexpansion of bounds of the stakeholder’s theory. Scholars areworking on using the stakeholders theory in describing theperspective of caring. Ethics of care are the new grounds for thetheory of the firms. According to this theory, the ethics of care isnot relevant in capturing decision rules. However, caring focuses onvarious particular cases with the understanding of each uniqueness ofthe situation. Studies reveal that caring have underlying contexts ofthe morals sensitivity and not detachments (Jennings, 2014).

Researchersmaintain that ethics of care tends to create a desirable environmentfor decision making by managers. Similarly, the caring facilitatesthe manager’s response towards environmental principle approaches.Stakeholder’s theory faces criticism due to its definition ofstakeholders. It more of define ethics of care as members of ahomogenous group instead of as individuals. Stakeholders are membersof the stakeholders’ group but when they approach their managers,they do so as individuals. They hold caring perspective, which areunique towards managers. Each of the stakeholders has various needs.Therefore, they do their best to satisfy managers to convincemanagers to consider them. The needs sometimes differ in context. Themoral impulse of each manager is to ensure there is ethical caring inthe concern, understanding of each ethics of care (Conway et al.,2013).


Philosophers,such as John Stuart and Jeremy Bentham argue that the resolution ofthe ethical dilemma should require a balancing effort. The balancingefforts tend to minimize harms that may result from making decisionsthat may even be maximizing benefits. In the case of Mary Kay, thegreatest happiness principle tends to be a pillar for companiesdecision making. The scholar provides that when resolving ethicaldilemmas people should focus on bringing greatest goodness to thelarge number of people. There are always many challenges in everyethical dilemma solutions, but people should always do their best.

Incidencessuch as providing for all, better services tend to applyutilitarianism. It involves providing better health care to all eventhough not all will get the advanced treatment. The utilitariantheory focuses on balancing. It requires one to look at the impactsof the proposed solutions towards ethical dilemmas. They consist ofthe viewpoints for all those affected and more of dealing with thehighest good towards the greatest number. Similarly, companies areexpected to use ethical virtues on the motivation and benefit to itpeople and surrounding environment. However, the decision shouldremain the choice of the decision maker. The decision makers shouldbe the one to decide on whether to use ethical or unethical virtues.


Conway,P., &amp Gawronski, B. (2013). Deontological and UtilitarianInclinations in Moral Decision Making: A process dissociationapproach. Journalof Personality and Social Psychology,104(2),216.

Desjardins,J. R. (2013). AnIntroduction to Business Ethics.(5thEd). New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Jennings,M. (2014). BusinessEthics: Case studies and selected readings.New York: Cengage Learning.

Kay,M. (n.d). EveryBusiness Is A People Business.San Diego: San Diego State University.

Robinson,F. (2011). The Ethics of Care: A Feminist Approach to HumanSecurity, 1, 802-803.