Business Ethics Essay Example

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I need a business ethics essay written (3 Pages, 1.5 line spacing), with regards to ANY corporate/business-related issue. Not all the principles have to be used, but the analysis of the article must be rigorous. The only principles that MUST be used are: 1) Moral imagination, 2) Kantian arguments and 3) Utilitarian arguments. Pay close attention to: What is at stake? What are the issues? Who else is involved? What are the alternatives?

And so, the ethics essay is based on the article that has a business/corporate-related ethical issue. 

Business Ethics Essay


The journal article, ““Banning the Box” In Employee Hiring,” authored by Kelly Mollica, talks about the issue of employers’ hiring as affected by the “ban the box” legislation. As explained by Mollica (2015), the legislation affects the hiring in that it determines the inquiries made by employers as appertains to the criminal background of a job applicant. The major issue at stake here is that people whose past have criminal history do not get readily hired. They thus often face the prospects of remaining jobless thanks to their criminal history. They may apply for jobs but that often marks their end in their search for jobs because no employer is likely to consider them for interviews, let alone hiring them. In this regard, the legislation dubbed “ban the box” seeks to help people with such a plight to have their job searching problems solved. Mollica (2015) points out that according to the requirements of the legislation, the use of one’s criminal history in the process of employment should be significantly limited. The legislation also requires that ex-convicts should be accorded the opportunity to pass the job application hurdle and stand better chances of landing jobs. This paper discusses this legislation and relates it to such ethical principles as moral imagination, Kantian arguments, and Utilitarian arguments.

In the United States, there have been spirited campaigns by social, religious, and civil rights advocacy groups regarding the issue. The efforts of such groups have seen the “ban the box” legislation being enacted in some counties/cities and states. In such places, employers are required to exclude a “check box” question about the criminal record of applicants in their application forms for employment (Mollica, 2015). As it would be, such a question would inquire whether the applicant is an ex-offender or has been arrested in the past. The prospective employer(s) would then rely on the answer to the question in deciding whether the applicant would be considered for interview or not. Effectively, employers are forced by this legislation to at least give the ex-convicts the chance to get past the application stage of the job search process. The decision to hire such people should thus be based on their qualifications for the particular jobs and not their criminal record. It is worth noting that in most cases, the criminal history of a job applicant may not in any way be related to the employment opportunities for which they would be applying. As such, denying them the chance to get hired for such jobs would be nothing short of unethical.

However, it should also be noted that the “ban the box” legislation is not a complete prohibition of employers from conducting checks on applicants’ criminal backgrounds. The legislation recognizes that it is legal to conduct background checks in employment matters. What it does is that it saves ex-offenders from facing the wrath of the criminal background check very early in the recruitment process. Its main aim is to give ex-convicts a fair chance at getting jobs (Mollica, 2015). This does not imply that it is rooting for ex-offenders to be hired at the expense of non-offenders. On the same note, it is not serving as a protection to ex-offenders. It is all about fairness and avoidance of victimization in the recruitment process.

One of the ethical principles that can help contextualize the “ban the box” legislation is moral imagination. According to Werhane & Moriarty (2009), the principle of moral imagination requires one to be able to understand the situation of another person from many perspectives. In business terms, moral imagination puts managers in a position to come up with a set of options in their bid to solve an issue or make a business decision. Noteworthy, such options may not be readily recognizable to managers if they use the organizational framework lens to look into an issue. Managers need moral imagination in recognizing and evaluating the options before finally actualizing them. In the case of “ban the box” legislation, managers do not have to dismiss job applicants based entirely on their criminal history. According to organizational framework, they would be justified to dismiss the applicants even before interviewing them because as it is, many organizations would not want to be associated with ex-offenders. However, moral imagination compels the managers to consider the applicants based on factors other than their previous involvement in crime (Werhane & Moriarty, 2009). For instance, it would be important to consider that the applicant has a right to be hired based on their qualifications. It would also be important to consider that hiring an applicant would likely have the effect of completely transforming them from their criminal past. Moreover, dismissing a person because of their criminal record would make a company lose the chance of hiring an employee that would have been an excellent performer and a great asset to the company. All these possibilities and considerations should make an employer consider an ex-convict for employment as opposed to when the employer only gives weight to their criminal history.

The “ban the box” legislation can also be contextualized in terms of Kantian arguments. Bowie (2005) stipulates that at times, people do something in order to get another thing. For instance, in order to earn a living, people need to work. These are duties that are based on conditions and are referred to as hypothetical imperatives by Kant. However, it is also pointed out by Bowie (2005) that there are other duties that are not based on “buts” or “ifs.” According to Kant, such duties are categorical imperatives. Kant further contends that categorical imperative is based on reason. Here are three formulations of Kant’s arguments concerning the categorical imperative: humans should only act on maxims that they would wish to become universal nature laws; people should always treat one another as an end but not merely a means, and; people’s actions should show that they belong to an ideal kingdom where they are both sovereign and subject. These arguments can be connected to “ban the box” legislation in the sense that employers should treat ex-convicts the same way they (employers) would wish to be treated. The convicts should not be seen as mere means of organizational success but as ends. They should be treated with the utmost moral consideration required. In this respect, ex-convicts should not be dismissed, upon job application, on grounds of their criminal history.

In terms of Utilitarian perspective, “There is a big difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do, as Justice Potter Stewart had once remarked” (Chaudhary & Soni, 2013). According to this perspective, a human being should always do that which is right even if their moral sense is against it. They should not give in to their sense of morals and do the wrong thing. An organizational framework may give managers a right to dismiss a job applicant based on their criminal record. However, this would not be the right thing to do according to the “ban the box” legislation. As much as an organization would argue that hiring a person with a criminal history would tarnish their name, the claim would be hard to justify and prove. It would only be right to give qualified ex-convicts a chance to serve the organization and monitor them overtime as they go about their organizational duties. This would be right especially because the convicts usually serve jail sentences so as to get transformed from their previous criminal deeds and characteristics (Pettus, 2013). It would thus be in order for employers to believe that they are changed and give them their fair share of employment chances.

Further, rule utilitarians have a two-pronged view emphasizing the significance of moral rules.  In their view: i) a given action would be justified morally if it is in conformity with a moral rule that is justified; and ii) a moral rule would be justified if, upon being included into the moral code of humans, it would yield more utility as compared to other rules available (Eggleston & Miller, 2014). From this, it can pass as a moral rule to make it possible for ex-convicts to work again upon rejoining the society from incarceration. It is also likely that more utility may be derived from employing ex-convicts because in addition to using their talents to benefit their employing organizations, being employed reduces their chances of getting involved in crime again.


The “ban the box” legislation is ideal in solving the unemployment menace among ex-offenders. As is evident, the legislation is greatly supported by moral imagination, Kantian arguments, and Utilitarian arguments as ethical principles. It should thus be adopted in every state, cities, and all world governments. This is because being an ex-convict should not mark the end of a person’s chances of getting a job. Considering such people for employment would not only be of benefit to them but to the society too in terms of ensuring that they do not go back to their criminal activities.


Bowie, N. (2005). A Kantian approach to business ethics (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Retrieved from

Chaudhary, P., & Soni, V. (2013). A utilitarian perspective on business ethics. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science (IOSR-JHSS), 14(5), 75-80.

Eggleston, B., & Miller, D. E. (2014). The Cambridge companion to utilitarianism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Mollica, K. (2015). “Banning the box” in employee hiring. Journal of Academic and Business Ethics, 10(1), 1-9. Retrieved from

Pettus, K. (2013). Felony disenfranchisement in America. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Werhane, P., & Moriarty, B. (2009). Moral imagination and management decision making (1st). Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics. Retrieved from

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