Sample Ethics Research Paper on BP’s Code of Conduct

BP’s Code of Conduct

A company’s code of conduct presents guidelines towards responsible behavior, and expresses the basis for explain the main ethical dilemmas that the company may face in its operations.  Companies must be keen on ethics because all employees look upon them for guidance and development of moral behaviors. BP’s code of ethics is built on the foundation of commitment to integrity. It assists the company to conduct its business ethically, in addition to complying with the law. This study will focus on BP’ Code of Conduct and explain how ethical principles can work on addressing organizational issues.

BP is a multinational company that deals in oil and gas business, and has branches in over 80 countries across the globe. BP code of conduct expresses commitment and adherence to legal requirements, as well as maintaining high ethical standards while undertaking the company’s operations worldwide. BP is a multinational corporation, and having a code of ethics would help the company “to unite its diverse employees behind a set of universal standards of behavior” (Ferrell & Hartline, 2011, p. 556).The Code demands the management to ensure that all employees undertake their duties with utmost integrity.

External social pressure plays a decisive role in business ethics, thus, companies should concentrate on their surrounding communities to ease this pressure. The company’s code of ethics demands the company to live up to its expectations, and failure to do so would attract criticism from the public. Due to public outcry on greenhouse gas emissions from oil drilling companies, BP opted to incorporate measures to minimize global warming in its code of ethics. However, the company failed to show its seriousness on environmental conservation when the Deepwater Horizon disaster occurred in 2010. It is now four years since the disaster’s occurrence, and the affected communities are still complaining that BP should accept full responsibility by restoring the natural resources around the Gulf region.

External social pressures can influence organizational or personal decisions in decision-making processes. The management can save the company from external pressure by making personal decisions, which do not have a long-term objective. In BP’s case study, the company was blamed for making wrong organizational decisions that led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.  A joint investigative team claimed that BP management failed to pay attention to the troubled well that the company was drilling a mile under the waters of the Gulf (Broder, 2011).  The team blamed BP for sacrificing safety in an attempt to save on costs, which was against the company’s code of conduct.

Organizational ethics can be shaped by external social pressure, as company will struggle to act ethically and meet the stakeholders’ needs.  While drafting the company’s code of conduct, the top management in BP faced numerous challenges in an attempt to create a standard at which all its employees would follow regardless of their location, language, or culture. Initially, BP proved that it lacked power to overcome numerous obstacles that resulted from external pressure.  It was extremely difficult to remain consistent in following the code of conduct, but the need to satisfy its stakeholders made the company change its organizational ethics. The management opted to transform its organizational ethics to suit the stakeholders and, consequently, turn from bankruptcy to profit-making business. Eventually, the company realized that being environmental conscious was not only ethical, but also profitable.

Legal doctrine and ethical ideals are normally related, although ethical responsibilities supersede legal duties.  Law is perceived as a societal device for imposing ethical views, and as long as an entity is operating within the law, society perceives this as ethically acceptable.  Legal principles compel individuals, or organizations, to comply with ethical values. If society regards ethics as an independent activity free from legal guidance, then ethics has no foundation.  When a company, such as BP, establishes its ethical code effectively, it shields itself from experiencing legal conflicts. Demonstrating positive approach to solving the company’s problems reduces cases of legal violations.

Executive branch employees in BP are normally subjected to company regulations, which are also referred to as ethical standards. It is through these regulations that the government formulates legally categorical rules on ethical conducts. The top management in BP was accused for breach the environmental rules during the Deepwater Horizon disaster, as their actions were viewed as unethical towards environmental conservation. What the society perceives as illegal also tends to be unethical. BP is facing a legal suit because it acted against its employees’ safety, which is part of its code of conduct.


Company’s code of ethics is essential in the day-to-day running of a business. It allows companies to honor their commitment to their employees, society, and government. BP’s case explains what would happen if a company fails to adhere to its code of conduct. The company’s code of conduct offers the company guidance and support to carry out its business operations ethically and to conform to the law (Our Code, n.d). External social pressure assists the company to remain on its course while undertaking its operations. It can also influence the company’s decision-making process to meet the stakeholders’ needs.  Ethical issues are closely linked to legal doctrines, as what is perceived as illegal undertaking is also seen as unethical practice.


Broder, J. M. (2011, January 5). Blunders Abounded Before Gulf Spill, Panel Says. The New York Times, Environment. Retrieved on 20 September, 2014 from

Ferrell, O. C., & Hartline, M. D. (2011). Marketing strategy. Australia: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Our Code (n.d). bp. Code of Conduct. Retrieved on 20 September 2014 from