The case of Levi Strauss shows that corporate social responsibility and ethics help the company to create positive social image and maintain moral and ethical environment which appeals to customers, porters and the society in general.
Levi Strauss is a leading apparel manufacturer operating on the market since 1853. Levi Strauss establishes a strict code of ethics which is a statement of corporate values and priorities, system guide for employees and management team. A Code of Ethics is very important in manufacturing industry because it is closely connected with quality of goods, moral and honest decisions (Sajhau 2000). The code of ethics accepted by Levi Strauss consists of two main parts: the Business Partners Terms of Engagement determining relations with partners and potential subcontractors, and Country Assessment Guidelines stipulating the selection of supplier countries. Taking into account the main articles of the Code, it is possible to say that ethics becomes a crucial part guarding and controlling decision-making process in Levi Strauss (Sajhau 2000). This Code shows that ethical principles applied by the company are concerned with truth and justice and include aspects which society expects, e.g. social responsibilities and corporate behavior.
Following Frederick (2002) to deal with areas that may be considered technically legal but, in the eyes of American Management, improper or unethical, companies must develop and disseminate explicit policies that are rigidly and expeditiously enforced if broken. They fall into this category, as do areas such as proprietary information, product misrepresentation, disparagement, premature disclosures, acquiring or divulging confidential information, certain gifts and entertainment, and conflicts of interest. Levi Strauss pays a special attention to its public image and the company's reputation (Kolk & Tulder, 2001).
Application of Ethical Theories
According to McIntyre, virtue ethics is based on the idea that a business should follow human virtue principles to behave morally. The case of Levi Strauss shows that the comapny values are core beliefs about what is intrinsically desirable. They undelines the choices made in work decisions just as they underlie the choices made in one's private life. They give rise to ideals that are called ethics or morals. In simple terms it basically mandates employees to treat customers and partners as they themselves would like to be treated: tell the truth, treat others fairly, etc. "We will favor business partners who share our commitment to contribute to improving community conditions" (Levi Strauss & Co n.d.).
Following Gillian, virtue ethics ensures stable position of business and its compliance with moral norms and principles. Ethical inquiry requires the decision maker to consider facts in light of important values. The conclusions reached are often stated as judgments, such as "he is a good person"; "bribery is wrong, even though it may be profitable"; "caring about others is the essence of virtue". Levi Strauss follows these guidelines and develop its code of ethics and partnership according to these simple rules and principles. Because many people perceive right and wrong from different angles, the objective of Levi Strauss in the area of ethical and moral standards is to establish what 'is right' (Zablow, 2006).