The Moral Dilemmas of Globalization

As is the case with most things related to business, globalization has its pros and its cons. Most of the pros lean towards the bottom line and money saved, and globalization does, indeed often mean jobs for people in other parts of the world. That in and of itself brings with it questions of international business ethics, as do most of the cons related to globalization.

Here is a look at 5 areas of international business that raise moral issues related to globalization.

Environmental Issues

Even people like humanitarian aid workers face backlash from environmental groups from time to time, when local resources are affected by the creation of hospitals and things of the like. Depending on the scale of an operation, and especially those involving manufacturing, losses of biodiversity, ecosystem effects, global warming, and pollution of the local land are all issues that globalization can greatly affect. Advances in green materials and more of a focus on utilizing local resources are helping slow the curve of environmental issues caused by globalization.

Cultural Diversity

Cultural diversity is an issue that is much more easily solved than the others on this list. If your company is moving to a global scale (and even if they are not), training focuses on diversity and inclusion should be musts. It’s also a win-win situation, as in addition to being morally sound, companies touted for their inclusion practices also retain employees and customers at higher clips than their competitors.

Labor Issues

Labor laws differ in the United States from state to state, and from country to country, the changes are even greater. With these changes come moral dilemmas, and it is up to a company to decide if they want to follow labor laws that are practiced stateside, or labor laws in a given locale where work is performed. Many companies wind up in hot water for not being transparent about the labor practices of their employees overseas, and the best thing to do is to be straightforward with your customers, especially if your company falls into the camp of leniency relevant to locale.


Marketing standards are also vastly different across the globe, including in how much a given company can bend the truth relative to their product or service. In the United States, there are several commissions that enforce and encourage morally sound marketing practices, and certain things are, indeed, illegal. Much like the labor issues, it is up to a company to decide if their moral compass will align with U.S. laws, or local laws (or a lack thereof). Hopefully your company’s own standards dictate practices even more ethically just that what is required by law.

Human Rights

All across the globe, human rights violations are occurring. Some places where atrocities happen may have business interests, and this causes moral dilemmas. A common example would be the diamond trade, which often produces jewels mined by slave labor.

Codes of Conduct

Ultimately, a company’s own guidelines should dictate overseas operations and decisions regarding negative of effects of globalization. Ethical leadership leads to ethical workers making ethical decisions, and there is never too much training on morality, especially in the global market.

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