Essay Exanoke on Coca-Cola's Ethical Dilemmas: Violations, Analysis, and Solutions

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1296 Words
Date:  2024-01-09


Several companies experience the problem of an ethical dilemma during their decision-making process. The problem arises when, from an ethical perspective, the two possible options are not acceptable. Normally, people face many moral problems in their lives. However, such problems, in many cases, do have a straightforward solution. Ethical dilemmas, on the other hand, are complicated and very difficult to solve. However small it might be, businesses need to develop optimal solutions in situations involving moral problems. Most businesses' success and failure are determined by their capability to handle situations of ethical dilemmas positively. Given the complexity of the ethical dilemma, researchers have deduced ways of solving such situations. These include the value theory approach, logical refuting of the paradox, and finding an alternative solution. This case study, therefore, discusses in detail the Coca-Cola Company and its related ethical issues. It further provides ways in which the Company has violated its code of ethics. Further, it explains my ethics system and finally states the possible solutions to the Coca-Cola company's ethical issues.

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The Coca-Cola Company is an American corporation that was founded in the year 1892. It primarily engages in the production and sale of syrup and Coca-Cola, a carbonated beverage. The Company is the world's largest beverage manufacturer and distributor since it operates in over 200 countries with over 2800 products in these countries (Brondoni, 2020). Its headquarters are in Atlanta, Georgia, the place where the Coca-Cola drink originated from. Several events have transpired since the inception of Coca-Cola.

To begin with, the Company faced many allegations in the early 2000s. It was alleged that its operations led to illegal soil and water pollution. Further, there were allegations of the Company's violations of human rights.

A big blow was experienced by Coca-Cola in the year 2001 when the United Steelworkers of America, together with the International Labor Fund, filed a lawsuit against the Company and other subsidiary companies such as Panamco LLC. At the time, Panamco was the primary bottler of the beverages manufactured by Coca-Cola. The claim was that the defendants, Coca-Cola, and its subsidiary companies, kidnapped, intimidated, tortured, and even murdered union officials (Brondoni, 2020). The allegations attracted worldwide attention and led to some American campuses banning Coca-Cola products within the institution. The Company experienced a big financial loss during this time but lucky enough, the lawsuit was finally dismissed.

The year 2005 saw Coca-Cola introduce its zero-calorie soft drink known as Coke Zero, which has the same taste as the regular Coca-Cola. The Company went ahead to purchase Energy Brands, Inc., together with its enhanced waters (Brondoni, 2020). In the year 2007, Coca-Cola announced that it would join the Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights to work with a group of companies to develop and implement corporate responses to human rights issues, that affect the business world.

Over the past few years, the Coca-Cola Company has experienced several related ethical issues. In Belgium, for example, a few children fell sick after taking Coca-Cola branded products. This event happened back in 1999 and led to every Coca-Cola product being pulled off the shelves and causing a reputation loss. It is also the 1999 event that has stagnated the Company's stock price for the past ten years.

One other ethical issue that has been of concern throughout Coca-Cola's business is its abuse of workers' rights, worker discrimination, and abuse of water privileges. The Company faced a lawsuit in 1999 when fifteen hundred African American employees sued it because of its racial discrimination (Le et al., 2017). Even though the African American workers did equal work as other races, the Company placed them at the bottom of the pay scale, which led to the Company being charged. It was a massive pay difference amounting to -$26000 less every year. For Coca-Cola to rebuild its reputation, it formed a diversity council and paid a total sum of $193 million to settle the racial discrimination lawsuit (Le et al., 2017).

Coca-Cola has recently misled people on issues of health matters. The Company has secretly misled people about the facts about obesity by promoting the idea that the health crisis does not result from taking too many calorific sodas but from lack of exercise (Serodio et al., 2020). Further, it has gone ahead to fund several expensive research pieces to counter the idea that sodas are not healthy (Gertner &Rifkin, 2018). This is unacceptable and ethically wrong, given that health is vital to every human being.

Given that Coca-Cola has business worldwide, the Company has placed a code of ethics to guide its operations. The Company puts great importance on following the law and acting with honesty and integrity; hence its code of ethics states, "Integrity in dealing with customers, suppliers and consumers. Integrity in dealing with competitors." However, based on past ethical issues, Coca-Cola has violated its code of ethics. It has no integrity at all when it comes to dealing with its employees and customers.

Personal Ethical Philosophy

Personal ethics determines what an individual considers to be wrong or right. It is a branch of philosophy and differs from business and legal ethics. I, for instance, believe in integrity, honesty, equality, and fairness. I believe that people and corporations should have strong moral principles. Every business operation should be done transparently. Finally, equality should be enjoyed by every person despite the race or color of their skin. I have a different view of personal ethics since I took this class. Before, I had no concerns about ethical issues, which is not the case right now.


Based on my ethics system, the Coca-Cola Company has a big problem with ethical issues that need to be looked into. First, the Company is not honest in its operations. It has provided fake details about the drink, which misleads customers. Misleading the customers with the false information provided is just like breaking their trust and is completely unethical. Moreover, equality and fairness have not been observed by the Coca-Cola Company. Employees, despite their gender and race, deserve to be treated equally. Coca-Cola Company in the previous years has not adhered to this. The Company has been accused of a low pay scale for a portion of its employees.

Selflessness is vital to each person and even corporations. A person or business needs to be more concerned about the needs of others. This is not the case with the Coca-Cola Company. It tends to value more about the number of sales and profits made to the extent that it does not care about its consumers' health. The Company has opted to use harmful products that have caused illnesses to several people.


In conclusion, ethical issues emerging in companies require optimal solutions. Coca-Cola Company is a large corporation that runs business worldwide and should put in place good measures to tackle its ethical dilemmas. For instance, the company leadership should ensure that the information provided to the general public is correct. The management should further ensure that every employee is paid equally for work done without discrimination.


Brondoni, S. M. (2020). Shareowners, Stakeholders & the Global Oversize Economy. The Coca-Cola Company Case. Symphonya. Emerging Issues in Management, (1), 16-27.

Gertner, D., & Rifkin, L. (2018). CocaCola and the Fight against the Global Obesity Epidemic. Thunderbird International Business Review, 60(2), 161-173.

Le, A., Jiang, J., Sandor, M., Stashick, M., & Zhang, L. (2017). Business Ethics: The Coca-Cola Company. Simon Fraser University Undergraduate Journal of Philosophy, 1(1), 35-45.

Serodio, P., Ruskin, G., McKee, M., & Stuckler, D. (2020). Evaluating Coca-Cola's attempts to influence public health 'in their own words': analysis of Coca-Cola emails with public health academics leading the Global Energy Balance Network. Public health nutrition, 23(14), 2647-2653.

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Essay Exanoke on Coca-Cola's Ethical Dilemmas: Violations, Analysis, and Solutions. (2024, Jan 09). Retrieved from

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