The larger an organization is, the greater the level of responsibility held by its management given the delicate nature of balancing organizational resources appropriately. Today’s appraisal of the quality of a business is greatly dependent on how it is governed and not just how much money it makes. The management have to ensure that the organization adequately caters for the needs of its internal customers, external customers, shareholders and also the community who are a key component of the stakeholders. These groups have different needs with varying degrees of urgency and magnitude. This document focuses on Corporate Governance as applied in Virgin Atlantic. Special attention is given to Corporate Social Responsibility programs since this is a major component of Corporate Governance. Other issues that are addressed are the relations between the airline and its customers as well as the relationship it has with its personnel.
This study’s main focus is the implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility as carried out by virgin group, an international organization. Corporate Social Responsibility is one of the elements of corporate governance which is a branch of business ethics. For this reason, it will be important to elaborate upon the linkage that exists within these elements and their relevance to the business environment of the 21st Century. The approach that will be used in this section is a top down approach that will discuss the subject from general to specific. This approach therefore dictates that business ethics be placed at the top of the pyramid (Jenkinson and Mayer, 2010).
Business Ethics is an area of study that seeks to highlight the most appropriate measures that a business entity can take in dealing with potentially contentious issues that are bound to arise in the course of doing business. The reason why business ethics is an area of academic discourse is that the past and present alike have exposed different controversial issues that businesses can face. These controversies can be related to bribery, insider trading, anti-trust issues, discrimination, unfair competitive practices, Corporate Governance and also Corporate Social Responsibility. These issues are not merely highlighted under business ethics but analysed from the perspective of policies and regulations that businesses put in place to handle them amicably. These regulations are determined by the legal perspective of the matter as well as the corporate culture, the goals of the business that the individual firms seek to implement (Mallin, 2010; O’Sullivan, 2011).
Business Ethics are essential for the establishment between a business and its customers (Both internal and external). Internal customers are the firm’s employees while the external customers are the shareholders, the customers, suppliers, and also the specific population affected by (or proximate to) the firm’s activities (Stark, 1993). When the Government or other regulatory body is added to this mix, the collective term for such parties becomes the ‘stakeholders.’ The business in this context, seeks to do right in the ‘eyes of all the stakeholders.’ It is also important to note that because of the variation in business environments, business ethics tend to be highly subjective to the organizations implementing them (Crane & Matten, 2010).
Corporate Governance one of the key branches of Business Ethics and it is concerned primarily with the steering of a business in such a manner that balances the ‘fairness owed’ to the firm’s different stakeholders (Acharya et al, 2013). Any business has a range of moral obligations that it owes to the different entities it interacts with directly and indirectly. Corporate governance is the deliberate process of ensuring that the interests of all these groups are met in a systematic manner that is implemented uniformly across the organization in its different endeavours. Key aspects of corporate governance are the practices, processes and rules that a business sets for the fulfilment of its moral as well as financial obligations. All managerial aspects of a business are encompassed under corporate governance but for the purpose of the study, the financial aspect will be superseded by moral and ethical issues related to corporate governance (Bebchuk et al, 2009). In a firm’s interactions with the human element of the different stakeholder groups concerned, Corporate Social Responsibility takes Centre Stage (Velazquez and Velazquez, 2010).
In Corporate Social Responsibility, the implication of the term ‘social’ means this has to do with society and society is comprised of people hence the human element as mentioned above. Responsibility on the other hand refers to obligations that an entity is bound to fulfil. Corporate social responsibility therefore is a series of measures that a business initiates with the aim of analysing and accounting for its activities within a particular area (Werther et al, 2010). These effects can have the social dimension as well as the environmental dimension, though the latter is often tied to the welfare needs of the former. In most instances, a conventional authority such as a government or regulatory body may impose a set of obligation that the firm needs to fulfil for the community as well as the environment. These are not considered under Corporate Social Responsibility because they are not initiated by the firm, and are more likely compulsory for the firm’s continued operation. When a firm goes the extra mile to assess and account for its effects, corporate social responsibility becomes realized. As a company seeks to meet the terms specified in its corporate social responsibility, it can be said to be in pursuit of Corporate Citizenship.
Corporate Social Responsibility is a costly affair to the organizations that take part in it. It is more of an expense than an investment because there are no direct financial benefits to the organization that engages in it. The sacrificial element of Community Social Responsibility is well in line with the idea that CSR is about giving back to the society or community. The mere fact that a company goes out of its way to engage in CSR implies that there is a need to allocate funds to the same. Unlike the rest of the business function where profits are expected when a firm invests, the only possible return that CSR can afford a company is the good will of its public. This may in turn drive profits up but the two are not directly related. In this light, CSR is considered as an expense that needs to be adequately budgeted for by the organization implementing it (Werther et al, 2010). The main motivator for such undertakings is the fact that in many instances, the company uses resources owned by the community in its daily operation. This makes the organization a component of the society and like everyone else in the society, the company as an entity needs to do its part to making the society a better place. Given the vast resources that a company controls, (in relation to the general public) it is necessary for it to contribute on a much larger scale so as to ensure the benefit reaches the largest number of people or addresses the most prevalent need in an area. Most CSR projects are usually targeted at initiatives that will have long term benefits on society and this makes them focus on economic issues, health matters and also environmental conservation projects.
In this study, the business entity that will be used as a case example is Virgin Group. This is n multinational group of over 400 companies that specialize in a wide range of businesses such as transportation, lifestyle and entertainment. Having such a large number of businesses spread across several continents exposes the group to a much larger pool of stakeholders than the average business. The challenge posed by its unique position make it ideal as a case study to be examined. Another reason why Virgin Group has been selected for investigation regarding its approach to business ethics and consequently corporate governance and CSR is that it has been in operation for over two and a half decades and this duration has probably created an opportunity for the organization to continually fine-tune its policies in regard to the matter. Virgin has also been in the mainstream media for different promotional as well as business related reasons and in the context of this study, such a situation kills two birds with one stone in that there is a lot of information available online and in print thus making stakeholder sentiments easily accessible. Secondly, all this exposure dictates that the group’s management need to redouble their efforts in ensuring the firm remains in good favour with the different interested parties.
An Overview of Virgin Group
This is an internationally recognized investment group that is a household name owing to the wide scope of businesses it engages in. It has humble beginnings as a small mail-order music store in 1970 under the leadership of Sir Richard Branson, who is among the top five wealthiest Britons. The ‘household name’ status that this company has comes from the fact that it is the driving force behind a number of businesses in different sectors. These include mobile communication, the entertainment industry, international tourism and holiday deals, Fitness & health and also financial services. The result of these investments is a reach across 34 countries globally and about 50,000 people having jobs within the firms. In the year 2011, Virgin group’s revenue from these branded businesses was at 13 billion Pounds Sterling. This group of companies is driven by the need to make a difference, offer quality products that are innovative and give the customers value for their money. It is also a highly competitive group whose companies thrive in competitive environments. All 50,000 employees of virgin are considered to be a great asset because it is through them that what the companies can achieve their financial objectives. As a result, these individuals are empowered so as to ensure they provide customers with exceptional services, much higher in quality than what the competition is offering. Another way in which Virgin ensures its competitiveness is through the fostering of partnerships with others organizations. The reason for this is that such action facilitates excellence through the combination of crucial elements such as skill, knowhow as well as specific operational expertise from different industries. These partnerships are the key ingredients of their successful companies.
Following the setting up of a virgin company, there are a number of specific factors that combine harmoniously to ensure sustained success for the businesses. The first and most obvious is the international appeal that the brand has cultivated over the years in world markets. The reputation of Richard Branson who is the group’s quintessential figure-head also rubs of positively on the company. The group also has an effective relationships management culture that has guaranteed it a reliable network of contacts, trading partners and friends who contribute their part where necessary to ensure the success of the group. Another element that cannot be ignored is the dynamic style of management that is employed by Virgin Group’s Executives. As mentioned above, the policy of staff empowerment also works well to the group’s overall benefit considering these are the contact persons between the market and Virgin Group itself.
Companies that operate under the Virgin Flagship have been empowered to operate autonomously. This is effectively administered by ensuring that no hierarchy is established to create hegemony between the businesses. This way interdependence between the companies flourishes thus creating mutual benefit for the players thus enabling internally sourced solutions to different problems that arise. This tendency facilitates the creation of a common pool of intellectual resources thus harmonizing the objectives, interests, goals and values of companies under Virgin Group.
A guiding principle that is widely embraced across by Virgin Group is that their business needs to be a strong propagator of the greater good. As a result, the group is never hesitant to channel its resources toward taking part in the solution of some of the issues that the world is facing. In tandem with this mentality, the group founded Virgin Unite. This is a non-profit foundation whose goal is to propagate these solutions. Virgin Unite has partnered with the subsidiary companies and the purpose of this union is to ensure the implementation of different strategies in the form of programs and campaigns that tackle selected issues. These issues include healthcare initiatives, economic empowerment programs, the mitigation of the effects of climate change and environmental conservation.
A Social Report of the Activities of Virgin Unite
The table below provides a summary of initiatives that have been taken by virgin unite in collaboration with the various companies that fall under the virgin group brand. On the left hand side of the table, we have a broad categorization of the initiatives while on the right there are specific projects under these initiatives are mentioned. They are all CSR initiatives targeted at different segments of society where the company is in a position to give back to society (Virgin Unite, 2013).
|Initiative||Specific issues that are handled|
|Leadership and advocacy||The Branson Centre, Carbon War Room, The Elders and Gaia Rocks|
|Entrepreneurial health||Rural Transport Network, Fight Against Fistula and Bhubezi –Community Healthcare Centre|
|Youth||End Youth Homelessness Australia, The Re*generation Canada, The RE*generation USA and the Oasis Champions Australia.|
|Unite Events||Leadership Gatherings, Connection Trips, Igniting Change and Jnan Amar Polo Challenge|
|Ambassadors||All of Me Foundation, the Golden Hat Foundation and the Give me a Drop Foundation.|
Key CSR Issues
Through Virgin Unite, this company combats five main areas through its CSR initiatives. These are:
- Promoting innovative leadership
- Fighting diseases in rural Africa.
- Economic empowerment of people in rural areas of Africa.
- Fundraising for various humanitarian causes through celebrities.
- Fighting homelessness among the youth in North America
The Leadership and advocacy initiative of Virgin Unite aims to cultivate innovative solutions to the shortcomings of leadership in today’s world. It is made possible through partnerships with relevant organizations. The mode of operation in these initiatives is to first of all identify the shortcomings, seek suitable partners then bring on board an effective management team that will run the specific programs. The aim of programs that run under this banner is to find creative solutions to environmental, financial and economic issues that face businesses on a day to day basis (Virgin Unite, 2013).
The Entrepreneurial Health initiative is a program that seeks to address challenges of unemployment and healthcare simultaneously primarily in the rural parts of Africa. This is carried out through Virgin Unite partnering up with individuals and organizations that have similar interests. This has drawn the attention and participation of healthcare providers, professionals as well as those from the business community. The common denominator between healthcare and entrepreneurship is that poverty for the better part hinders a large number of people from accessing the appropriate healthcare they are in need of. In this light, the businesses take an active part in the philosophy if “business for the better good” as envisioned deep within Virgin Group.
When it comes to the Youth initiative is a program that directly works with young people in society. The main goal of this initiative is to guarantee the creation of practical opportunities for the present generation and the ones to come. The driving force behind this initiative is the fact that the youth have exhibited a high level of enthusiasm and commitment toward improving the world they live in. A specific problem that is being experienced by large numbers of the youth across the world is homelessness of one form or another forcing them to live on the streets. With the help of partners in areas where this problem is acute, Virgin Unite is working towards elimination of this form of suffering. The drive is guided by staggering statistics of youths without a place they call home. In the United States for instance, there are over two million youth sleeping on the streets on a daily basis.
Unite Events Initiative is a program in which various influential personalities such as philanthropists, leaders and entrepreneurs drawn from all walks of life are brought together in a unique destination such as the islands Sir Branson owns. In these settings, the world issues (mainly Challenges and Opportunities) that need immediate attention and addressing are discussed in depth. The logic behind such ‘retreats’ is to ensure that people who are up to the task come together and chart the way forward in bringing about positive change. The name ‘Virgin Unite 24902’ is used to refer to this growing number of intelligent personalities coming together for this common purpose. The number that is attached is a representation of the total distance around the world in Miles and this is meant to emphasize the travel as well as universality of the initiative.
The Ambassadors Initiative is based on drawing celebrity representatives from different parts of the globe thus representing and appealing to different publics. The reasoning behind the involvement of celebrities is that they have the advantage of the stage and an audience which can then be presented to different issues that require of their participation. In so doing, audiences across the world are confronted with rarely discussed issues mostly of a humanitarian orientation. Though their input, the program finds it easier to source for political, human and monetary support and resources that are then directed at solving the issues presented.
In this study, the Entrepreneurial health initiative and will be analysed in depth with regard to the approach that is being taken by Virgin group, interactions and partnerships with stakeholder as well as the future plans the company hopes to implement in relation to the initiatives’ components.
There are three flagship programs that are currently running under this initiative that seeks to provide economic empowerment and improved healthcare for communities in Africa’s rural areas. These programs are the Rural Transport Network, Fight against Fistula and Bhubezi –Community Healthcare Centre.
The Rural Health Network
As a result of poor infrastructure and highly centralized healthcare facilities in parts of Kenya, a large number of people are forced to endure needless suffering as well as unnecessary deaths because they cannot make it to the health centres on time. Diseases that have been a major challenge in these parts of the country include respiratory tract infections, diarrhoea, HIV & AIDS and also water borne diseases. Many a time, the issue of transportation has become a determinant of who lives and who dies. Since the people cannot get to the clinics on time, the innovative idea that is in play is to bring the healthcare services to them (Virgin Atlantic, 2013).
Majority of the diseases that are causing a nightmare to these people are easily preventable. The gap that exists between the preventability and the sufferers of these ailments is a lack of adequate health education. This is being tackled through volunteer health workers who move from door to door. In addition to this, there is the problem of abject poverty. This is occasioned by their main economic activity being purely subsistence farming. This means that whatever comes from the farm is consumed entirely by the households with little or no surplus to be delivered to the market for sale. The only other economic activity they could partake in is fishing and this too provides only enough income for a hand to mouth lifestyle. Because of their dire economic position, it is impossible for them members of these communities to get the means to reach the local hospitals. This is where Virgin Unite comes in. the healthcare needs to come to the people who need it the most.
Virgin Unite has partnered with Christian Aid, a Non-Governmental Organization based in the country. They are in the process of putting in place a ‘Rural Transport Network’ that facilitates a much wider reach for the available mobile health workers. Rather than reach a small number while moving on foot, these mobile healthcare providers are now capable of accessing a much larger number of people who were otherwise effectively cut off from the healthcare system.
The mode of transportation has been upgraded to motorcycles which are now being used by the health workers. With these vehicles, the capacity of the mobile health workers is greatly enhanced given the fact that they can now transport more medical supplies, reach greater distances and also respond on time to emergencies that may arise. They also have a wider audience for their community education initiatives. Other than promote healthcare, these bikes are also used by the health workers to promote their personal businesses this supplementing their incomes. As a result of this project, Virgin Unity, Christian Aid and The mobile health workers, the project has succeeded through saving lives, improving healthcare and also promoting and uplifting the livelihoods of the participant. The performance of this program is evaluated by analysing the output per rider. It has been established that on average, a single Rural Transport Network rider travels over 400km a month delivering educational material, medical supplies and healthcare door to door. This enables him to pass through 60 households and therefore an average of 450 individuals accessed. In community events, these riders manage to reach a further 250 people who are then sensitized about HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness. On a broader scale, from 2009, 30 riders have visited over 41000 households and have been making a profit of 30 pounds Sterling a month. Support for this program is growing and Virgin Atlantic chipped in by contributing 30 more motorcycles that are also currently in operation. As a result of initial success of the Rural Transport Network has also seen the likes of Riders for Health, a partner to Virgin Atlantic (Virgin Atlantic, 2013).
Unite Events initiatives
Unlike other initiatives where partnerships are fostered with other non-governmental organizations, in the Unite Events Initiative, the partnership takes place with individuals who are selected owing to the fact that they have the drive and also hold positions in which they can influence others in their respective societies. These are carried out under different formats namely Leadership Gatherings, Connection Trips, Igniting Change and Jnan Amar Polo Challenge (Virgin Atlantic, 2013).
On an annual basis, Sir Richard Branson hosts a handful of Virgin Unite 24902 to a connection trip Series whereby they travel on a ‘Life enhancing journey’ that exceeds their wildest imagination. Those who are fortunate enough to get on board on these trips get to connect with inspirational leaders who are in the frontline of driving change through entrepreneurial ideas in their respective home countries. Youthful individuals who have launched innovative businesses also get to interact and compare notes on their unique experiences, challenges and also success stories. At the same time, attendees get to enjoy the host culture under the able guidance of a celebrity guide in the event that Branson is not taking charge of the particular event. The experience is also greatly enhanced by luxurious accommodation. The overall aim of these connection trips is to give those in attendance a chance to deliberate on future prospects while at the same time having fun. The other Virgin Unite events run in succession of these each other just the same way that the connection trip comes after another event (Virgin Unite, 2013).
The main future prospect of Virgin Unite Events is to continually grant interested individuals a once in a lifetime learning experience so that they can go back home and become better influencers starting in their households, families, places of work and also in their societies in general. This way, the Virgin Group’s businesses ensure businesses are acting towards the promotion of the better good. At the same time, the project is designed to prompt those who go on the trips to form partnerships so as to combine their strengths to bring about change in different world issues. The level of success that has been realized by these initiatives can be measured mostly qualitatively through the feedback that is given by participants regarding the unique experiences they have had.
Stakeholder Perspectives and Critical Evaluation
In this section, Virgin Atlantic, one of the more outward brands will be analysed in regard to its handling of ethical matters with respect to its customers and employees. These are implemented through a customer service system as well as a sustainable procurement policy respectively (Daniel, 2010).
Virgin Atlantic’s Ethical Customer Service system
Since we are living in the information age, the company does everything in its power to ensure customers are aware of any new developments that have taken place including alteration to seating, baggage regulations and also any price changes among other news that may be important to the customers. This is regularly updated on the company website and this is important considering this is the most convenient way to get information for majority of the firm’s customers.
Because things do not always go as planned, the airline has a provision for customers to cancel their bookings on time and get timely refunds of the amounts they had spent. The firm also ensures that the customers are aware of the channels they need to follow for the refunds to be successful. The procedure for following up on a refund is subjective to the kind of ticket the customer bought and for each method there is a well streamlined process to be followed. This is very important considering the fact that most people who choose to fly are often on a tight schedule that gives the individual little time to spare. A guided system will save the affected customer time and money that would have been spent to make up for the delay.
In the event that a customer’s bags have been damaged in the course of processing or delayed, the firm accounts for the losses that have been accrued by the customer. This is because in the course of handling the baggage, a duty of care for the property is owed to the customer by Virgin Atlantic. Customers are encouraged to take note of how their baggage appears and if possible take a photo of the same. The Airline has put in place a serious system that is meant to aid in the tracing of baggage that has been misplaced. An emergency number is provided for those who face such a challenge. Behind the scenes, Virgin Atlantic has membership in an international association that is dedicated to the tracing and tracking down of misplaced luggage. Other than ensuring the suitcases and other luggage of the client is returned as soon as possible, there is also a compensation system that is based on claims that are made by the customers who have suffered such losses. The airline has also clearly outlined in its website a procedure to be followed by a traveller who suffers such a mishap. This should also come as a great relief to customers who are affected by such eventualities. The deliberate act of sustaining a system of tracking misplaced baggage is a sign that the airline truly has the customers’ best interests at heart.
Virgin Atlantic recognizes the fact that not all customers are the same. In light of this, it has a provision for special requests that can be made by customers who will use its airplanes. The company recommends that anybody who will require special assistance to contact the airline via phone or through his or her travel agent. Examples of requests that can be made by Virgin Atlantic customers include wheel chairs, assistance at the airport, medical assistance, special diets such as nut-free, pregnant women or otherwise. Under this provision, it is also possible for one to cancel the flight on medical grounds and receive a refund. Non-medical reasons also fall into this category of special requests such as having musical instruments on board or notifying the flight crew of a pre-existing medical condition (Virgin Atlantic, 2013). This is an effort to ensure that all possible members of society have an opportunity to use the firm’s services comfortably. People with disability as well as those with serious medical conditions are saved the burden of making cumbersome contingency plans that can at times be expensive or disruptive to their travel plans. The ethics in this is that the airline’s services are now more accommodative to customers as opposed to those that cater almost exclusively to only those who are able-bodied or in good health.
The airline valued the relationship that it has with its customers and this means that it has an open door policy to both compliments and complaints. This is because such information is highly instrumental in the enhancement of customer experience. At the same time, the compliments or complaints will assist the supervisors and executives in the evaluation of different management strategies they are implementing. To ensure that this policy is realized on the ground, Virgin Atlantic has put in place measures to ensure their customers can communicate effectively with them. Customers can either place phone calls to the airline, author emails or traditional letters to their Customer Relations office. Contact information to facilitate this communication is boldly displayed on the airline’s website. The customer service department of Virgin Atlantic has a policy of responsiveness to complaints made by customers. This feedback to the customers takes a period of 28 to 60 days. The provision of timelines within which customer issues can be responded to hold the company accountable to its customers’ queries and this also increases the chances of the issues being dealt with squarely by the airline. While many customer service organizations hear customer issues, virgin makes an effort to actually listen and deliberate upon the matters that have been raised by the customers. This helps the airline to rid itself of practices that may be negatively affecting customers while improving its processes and services in a manner that enhances the customer experiences in a positive way.
Another important customer service element is that of price. Though not the most important competitive element in the Airline Industry, price is still an important issue to customers (Giroud and Mueller, 2010). In light of this, the airline always puts in place for its customers a chance to pay the lowest price for their flights. At the same time, the airline also makes clear the limitations that are associated with going for the cheapest offers (Virgin Atlantic, 2013). Majority of the airlines that offer cheaper than average flights seldom inform the prospective customer about the realities of such an arrangement. These may include extremely long stopovers or routing which is unfavourable to the customers. Virgin however employs a principle of good faith whereby despite their marketing, they maintain honesty with the customer regarding the product he or she chooses to purchase, something that is rare in today’s business environment. This is ethical because it enables the customers to practice informed purchase decisions.
The airline also makes a point of informing the customers of any delays or cancellations as soon as such information becomes available. Any changes to the itinerary are also promptly relayed to the customers so as to allow them to make the necessary adjustments. In line with delays, this company has a policy that seeks to minimize the discomfort caused by unintended cancellations or flight misconnections. These are handled through compensation as well as rebooking of flights for aggrieved customers (Virgin Atlantic, 2013). This information aids the customers who have been affected by the delays to make alternative plans or communicate the same to their business associates or other interested parties in a timely manner.
Ethics in Virgin Atlantic’s transactions with its employees are maintained through its Sustainable Procurement Policy. This document governs the relations between the airline and all those who are employed in its various departments. These ethical standards for the employees are based on the UK’s labour laws but enhanced as a sign of goodwill by the company and also in consideration of the fact that as an international airline, its operations are subject to international laws from time to time (Virgin Atlantic, 2013).
Virgin Atlantic has the obligation to provide protective gear to the workers whose occupations expose them to perilous situations that have a high risk of injury or infections. At the same time, the emergency procedures that have been formulated for the work stations need to be tested at least once a year on the minimum so as to make any adjustments or repairs where necessary.
Training of a worker is compulsory and it should be a process that empowers the individual to properly carry out his or her duty in the organization.
The contract that employees are meant to agree to before commencing employment has to be simple enough for them to understand and interpret. The contents should clearly explain to them the terms of work that they are about to get into depending on the country they are in. in the vent that the workers are illiterate or unable to read for another reason, the contract needs to be read to them by a person of their choice prior to them appending a signature to the document (Virgin Atlantic, 2013).
The freedom of employees is guaranteed and this gives them the liberty to choose to work for their desired employer. If they intend to stop working for Virgin, they can do so provided they have provided their superiors with reasonable notice.
With regard to remuneration, the company adheres to the government regulation on minimum wage and categorically states that this is the least possible amount that they can pay a worker. At the same time, wages and salaries for the workers are to be paid in cash and not any other form.
The airline also seeks to ensure that the employees’ freedom of association is upheld at all times. This means that even in instances when the laws of a country restrict this freedom, the company needs to create for workers a channel through which they can be well represented.
The airline also makes it clear to the staff that the management has no right to subject female workers to compulsory pregnancy tests or disclose their status in that regard. This rule is only revocable if there is sufficient reason that proves that the disclosure will actually be in the best interest of the mother or child.
Critical Evaluation of Virgin Atlantic’s Ethics in relation to its stakeholders
With regard to the customers, it is clear that Virgin’s commitment to providing quality products to its customers is upheld. This is because the customer service regulations that it adheres to are show that as much as it is a profit making entity, customer interests come first and are of utmost importance to the airline. The appropriate use of information and compensation are expenses on the part of the company but the money does not go down the drain since the company gradually gains the customer’s goodwill (Crane & Matten, 2010).
In relation to the employees, Virgin operates in a very democratic manner that views the labour force as much more than just a factor of production. The various policies relating to employee relations focus on the human element and this too gains their good will. The welfare needs of the employees are well taken care of while at the same time motivating them to give their best as they work for the airline. This also minimizes the chances of internal conflicts (Crane & Matten, 2010). The closest the airline came to a publicized dispute with its personnel was in 2011 July when the pilots had voted to carry out a strike over unresolved remuneration issues (The Guardian, 2011). This was however called off and there has not been another incident of its staff striking despite this almost being a norm for international airlines during the same period. This is a clear indication that though not perfect, Virgin Atlantic’s employee relations have been above par.
As far as corporate social responsibility is concerned, Virgin Atlantic’s management has done a superb job of ensuring that the company gives back to society in the best way it can. The CSR initiatives are outstanding because they are based on real and immediate needs that have for the longest time remained neglected by those who should deal with it. It is said that CSR takes over from where government has left off and this is seen clearly from the range of projects carried out by the firm. The programs geared at fighting disease in the rural parts of Africa while simultaneously uplifting the people economically is an act of pure genius since it kills two birds with one stone in a manner that the resident authorities have been unable to do for so long. The same can be said of Virgin Events where leaders are groomed and inspired so as to provide hope for the future generations. This is another serious need that the world has given the huge scores of young people who are disillusioned by improper leadership. The reason why these projects have been sustained is the fact that the company has an effective Corporate Governance structure.
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