Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cancer Chemicals in Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo (2009)

Cancer Chemicals in Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo (2009)

Based on the Paper: “Johnson & Johnson”
Written By: Kelsey Dawson
Summary By: Nicole Daly
            Johnson & Johnson was established in 1886 by three brothers Robert Wood Johnson, James Wood Johnson, and Edward Mead Johnson.  They are an American based multinational company that works with pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and consumer-packaged goods.  Johnson & Johnson is one of the highest grossing and most trusted, well respected names in the surgical and sanitary world.  Their headquarters is located in New Brunswick, NJ and they have over 250 companies in sixty countries.  Johnson & Johnson employs more than 118,000 people and are the most diverse medical devices and diagnostics company.  In 2009, The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics discovered that Johnson & Johnson manufactured their baby products with the ingredients quaternion-15 and 1, 4-dioxane, which releases formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde in high levels is known to cause cancer.  Johnson & Johnson failed to respect their customers by not informing them about the new, hazardous chemicals being put in their products.  Not only did Johnson & Johnson lose many of their customers, they also tarnished their reputation for the long term and may not be able to gain full respect back.

            Individualism, which comes from Milton Friedman’s economic theory, deals with maximizing profits for your company.  A company should forever be improving and increasing while obeying the laws.  These laws include both the company laws and government enforced laws.  Generally, individualism fails because it does not take into account stakeholder happiness.  Johnson & Johnson put off the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics request to remove the hazardous chemicals in their products for years.  Finally, in 2011, they began making some changes, but the consequences were already in effect.  Campaign for Safe Cosmetics protested and urged customers to be weary when making their purchases.  Individualism, for Johnson & Johnson, worked for the short term.  They were able to maximize profits with cheaper products with tainted chemicals, but for the long run, Johnson & Johnson struggled.  After consumers found out that their products could possibly cause cancer, they distrusted the Johnson & Johnson name.  Profits declined and their reputation was tarnished.

            The theory of Utilitarianism deals with everyone’s overall happiness.  This overall happiness extends to all stakeholders involved.  It states that one person’s happiness is no different than another’s, and therefore, it must be considered when making business decisions.  In the Johnson & Johnson case, the company failed to consider their customers happiness.  They were not looking out for their best interest, and they didn’t consider the potential health risks for their customers.  Not only are the children and babies using the products being put in harms way, but the caring parents are second guessing what products to purchase. These chemicals are severely dangerous to children.  None of this leads to stakeholder happiness short or long term.  Utilitarianism says that Johnson & Johnson are doing the exact opposite to make customers happy by intentionally putting hazardous chemicals in products and not informing their customers.

            Kantianism is an ethical theory that deals with acting reasonably and respecting customers.  Fairness and rational business are valued in Kantianism.  Johnson & Johnson acted in a selfish, controlling, deceitful way when adding cancer causing chemicals to their products.  Not only is that a problem under Kantianism, but then not informing customers of these chemicals is also an issue.  The products are not labeled with this information and at no point did Johnson & Johnson try to bring their customers up to date.  Kantianism would want Johnson & Johnson to report the use of these chemicals through different medias of communication and in the process be phasing out the chemicals.

            The virtue theory of business ethics deals with creating positive characteristics for a company.  Courage, honesty, control, and justice are significant to seeing the virtue theory through in a company.  These characteristic should be emphasized throughout the company.  Johnson & Johnson failed to comply with the virtue theory in every aspect.  They did not take responsibility for their products because if they did, they would have informed their customers of the chemicals.  Also, the chemicals should not have been put in the products to begin with.  Johnson & Johnson should have known better and in the process, had to ask their employees to act unethically when putting in the chemicals.  Whether they wanted to or not, it is not ethical to ask them to do that.  Johnson & Johnson disregarded all aspects of the virtue theory.

Based on the Paper: “Johnson & Johnson”
Written By: Kelsey Dawson

AP. “Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo.” The Huffington Post., 11 Jan. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <>.

Associated Press. “Johnson and Johnson Starts Removing Toxins from Baby Products.” USA Today.  Gannett. Web. 16 Apr. 2012. <>.

Des Jardins, Joseph. (2009). An Indroduction to Business Ethics (Ed. 4) New York, NY : The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

“Johnson & Johnson Answers Criticism and Concern about IIngredients in Its Baby Products.” The Star-Ledger. Web. 16 Apr. 2012. <>.

“Johnson & Johns on Baby Shampoo Still Contains Cancer-Causing Chemicals: Report.” International Business Times. Web. 16 Apr. 2012. <>.

Johnson, Linda A. “Groups Push J&J on Baby Shampoo Chemicals.” Yahoo! News. Yahoo!, 1 Nov. 2011. Web. 23 Apr. 2012. <>.

Professor Salazar. Slideshow notes. Does Business Ethics make Economic Sense?

Professor Salazar. Slideshow notes. Utilitarianism and Business Ethics.


No comments:

Post a Comment