Procter and Gamble: Ethics Division


When looking into ethics within companies, I came across Procter & Gamble, the huge conglomerate headquartered in my hometown of Cincinnati.  The company, which works in consumer products, has long been a good model ethically.  They have embraced the sustainability concept that is so important in a company primarily comprised of manufacturing products.  The company has gone so far as to produce a report card on their sustainability activity, released publicly.

However, I came across an incident that happened in 2001 that showed darker days for P and G.  Workers at the company had been found to have been spying on it’s chief rival, Unilever, going so far as to look into trash cans.  It became a tough decision for the chairman at the time, John Pepper.  It highlights that even if you try your best to make the company culture good, there is always the threat of individuals going against that culture.  P&G is  huge company, yet the antics of a couple of people became headline news.  I thought this was interesting because it shows just how difficult it is to run an ethical organization.

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3 responses to “Procter and Gamble: Ethics Division

  1. I had never heard about the P&G/ Unilever scandal before, but thought this was pretty funny to hear about since about ten years before that the same thing happened with two other personal care rivals, Mary Kay and Avon products. Avon tried to buy Mary Kay and I guess was pretty ticked when it didn’t work out, so they dumpster dove. Not exactly an industry best practice for P&G to copy. http://www.businessweek.com/stories/1991-03-31/dumpster-raids-thats-not-very-ladylike-avon Might be an example to look into for reference if you do pick this as your topic, and I’m sure there’s more

  2. I think this idea of individual vs. organization illustrated here is very interesting. As Michael describes here, it is very evident that P&G makes many strides to make sure their corporation operates with the best ethics that they can. The fact that one individual performs such a stunt puts P&G in a tough situation. Who knows if these individuals were performing these stunts on their own time for their own personal gain, or it was known that these individuals were doing this to benefit the company as a whole. Can we ever really know?

  3. Well, what happened? The interesting story may not be that it was doing something unethical relative to its competitor, but what was done.

    Is it illegal or unethical to look in their trash?

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