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British Airways Ethical System Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 22nd, 2021


British Airways is one of the leading airlines in Europe and the world. The company is a premium service air travel provider with its business based in London especially at Heathrow, Gatwick and London City. The company prides itself in serving an average of about 30 million passengers in about 300 major routes.

In England alone the airline serves at least 20 million passengers every year. Other than passenger services, the airline also runs other subsidiary services such as cargo, car hire, accommodation, holidays among others. British Airways has also engaged in partnerships with other companies such Spain’s Iberia to from the third world largest airline.

As a result of its mergers and franchises the airline is able to fly in over more than 300 destinations worldwide. In order to retain its status in the global airline industry, the company has developed a mission statement outlining its business mandates. The statement thus stipulates: ‘British Airways is aiming to set new industry standards in customer service and innovation, deliver the best financial performance and evolve from being an airline to a world travel business with the flexibility to stretch its brand in new business areas.”

The company employs about 45, 000 workers. In efforts to boost it performance and motivate efficacy, British Airways has developed an employee’s code of conduct (British Airways, 2011). The company has gone through turbulent times in recent years and its code of conduct has been called to question.

British Airways ethical system

To ensure that the company retains its positions among the world leading airlines British Airways has developed a code of conduct and ethics. These ethical laws are applicable to all employees at all levels of management without discrimination. There are situations however that allows for waiver of certain provisions of the company’s ethical code of conduct.

The company’s ethical code clearly stipulates the responsibility and duties of employees towards the company, its clients as well as business partners. Employees have a duty to ensure that personal interests do not conflict with the interests of the company.

Therefore, employees have a duty to ensure that all conflicts of interest are resolved by consulting the company secretary. At British airways, employees’ duty extends to ensuring that they protect any confidential information regarding the company, clients and business partners.

Furthermore, employees have a duty to ensure that they do not use any information regarding a company’s securities for their own benefit. When handling the company’s assets employees are responsible to ensure that these assets are not misused or used for personal gains (British Airways, 2004). Following a stand off between the company and its employees, the company’s ethics code was revised.

More emphasis was put on employee’s relations. The company endeavoured to respect the rights of all employees (British Airways, 2000). The company’s ethics code emphasis on the duties of employees toward the company. The code also emphasis the role of employees and see them as ends and not means to an end. As such the company operates on deontological system of ethics.

Application of code of ethics at British Airways

There are various levels that the code of ethics is applicable at British Airways. At management level code of conducts is used to help in curbing, curtailing and prevention of corruption. The company sees corruption as receiving or giving of bribes and gift to influence business decisions.

Ethic code requires that all company managers at all level shall not receive or give gifts or favours from customers, agents, supplier or any other party so as to gain any business or personal advantage. All managers are protected from exploitations by shrewd business associates in that should the company make losses due to adherence of zero tolerance policy by its managers, the managers are not liable to punishment for such loss.

Local management are responsible for ensuring that all managers and business leaders at all levels are trained and monitored for compliance. Should any manager contravene any of the provision of this code, the Director of Safety, Security and Environment has the responsibility to take any disciplinary action (British Airways, 2002).

British Airways code of ethic regarding employees is used for two main reasons. It esteems to ensure that employees are treated in fairness and that their rights are respected. This is aimed at motivating employees to do the best for the company.

The code of ethics also stipulates that employees have a duty to uphold the highest principles of ethics. The company to ensure that employees feel part of the company has devised new and efficient ways to communicate with employees.

Furthermore the company has proposed several ways through which employees can report any case of contravention of its ethics. Employees have a responsibility to report to any authority of any contravention of ethics or if they feel that their rights as employees of British airways have been put in jeopardy, they can go through a third party (British Airways, 2000).

The company social and environmental report of the year 2000 explains that the Board of Directors are directly responsible for the implementations of the company’s social, corporate and environmental ethics.

This will be done to ensure that the company maintain a good cooperate image as well as being socially responsible in service to community. However, the report fail to mention the implications should any member of the board of directors contravene any of the company’s code of ethics (British Airways, 2000).

Modification of existing code of ethics

In light of the resent standoff between the company and its employees there is need to modify the code of ethics especially regarding employees relations. Despite the fact that the company modified code of conduct to cater for employees relations, the way in which the company handled the stand off requires that there be ethics provisions that allow for participation staff unions in trade disputes.

As such it would be important to revise the codes of conduct to empower staff unions such as Unite so that the company does not take advantage of such a loophole and exploit workers. Employees always feel that they might be discriminated or their positions in the company put in jeopardy when they reveal any breech of code of ethics.

As such creating a direct link with the company secretary without going though a third party and without revealing the identity of employees, should be part of the ethics code. These would be attained by asking staff union to submit proposal for incorporation, which will be discussed at board level and concession incorporated during the soonest available opportunity.

Such modifications in the company’s code of conduct will generate reactions on both the employees and managers. Employees will be motivated to be more committed to the company as they will be rights will be more secured. Employees will also be empowered to report any contravention of the ethics codes without fear of retaliation in terms of discriminations or intimidation.

The company’s managers will be compelled to be more diligent in their duty as to as they will be more accountable. The company’s ethics system is inclined towards duty of the employees towards the company as well as ensuring that employees’ welfare is taken care of (British Airways, 2000; British Airways, 2002).

Therefore such changes will find ready acceptance especially amongst employees who will see them as opportunities to have more say in the company’s business decisions. This will lead to better employees’ relations as the company will be obliged by to be more ethical in the way it approaches staff matters.


As a leading airline and corporate brand British airways ought to ensure that it develops an all inclusive code of ethics. The current code of ethics is very articulate in establishing the roles and duties that all employees, from the top managers to lower cadre staff plays in ensuing that the company attains its business goals.

However, the company’s ethics code should aim at developing provisions that not only address the relationship between the company and its employees but also address emerging issues.

The ethics should not only be business oriented but also focus on other issues such as employee’s welfare. Only when such changes are done will the company reinstate employee confidence as well as avert any future employees’ administration standoff.

Reference List

British Airways. 2000. . Web.

British Airways. 2002. . Web.

British Airways. 2004. . Web.

British Airways. 2011. . Web.

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