Marketing ethics & Practices Essay


Ethical conduct becomes central to business success in the 21st century. Consumers are investing in ethical funds, buying from responsible corporations, supporting local producers, and engaging in environmental or anti-globalization activism. Ethics is closely connected to the battle against corruption and for good business practices. The scandals at Enron, WorldCom and Parmalat illustrate the importance of ethical judgment for managers and accountants. Therefore, the research of practical applications of The American Marketing Association’s Statement of Ethics is of great interest and paramount importance. This article will examine the implementation of ethical values, such as honesty, responsibility, fairness, respect, openness, and citizenship. These values are embodied by the practices of Macy’s, Inc., one of America’s largest retailers.

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Honesty refers to the practice of being truthful and forthright in dealings with customers and stakeholders. Since Macy’s claims that all products it offers are of exceptional quality, it offers a wide range of possibilities to return or exchange an item purchased in its store or via its website.  Macy’s accepts returns within 180 days of purchase. Together with the money back guarantee, Macy’s offers repair and maintenance services for certain products. For example, within 3 days of delivery of furniture purchased in a Macy’s store, a technician can be requested to make repairs if the product has been damaged during manufacturing or delivery. Therefore, Macy’s Inc. accepts responsibility for products and services it offers and provides honest information about them (Macy’s, Inc., 2008).


This value should be interpreted as an effort to serve the needs of a company’s customers. Macy’s, Inc. is making a genuine effort aimed at satisfying their customers’ needs and modifying their services to meet customers’ expectations. Therefore, Macy’s invites comments concerning customers’ experience of shopping in their stores. The company ‘is keenly interested in what customers think of the shopping experience in our stores. We need to know – and want to know – how our stores look and if our sales associates are courteous and respectful’ (Macy’s, Inc., 2008, ‘Contact Us,’ para. 1). It assures the customers that all comments will be carefully considered and flaws amended. This commitment to exceptional service might be the reason of Macy’s, Inc. recent success.


Fairness means that a company refuses to undermine customers’ trust by engaging in deceptive marketing activities or employing unfair pricing strategies such as price fixing, predatory pricing, price gouging. Macy’s, Inc. recognizes the paramount importance of open and honest communications with employees, shareholders, vendors, customers, financial analysts and the news media. Macy’s, Inc. is determined to be proactive in sharing valuable data with them and updating these stakeholders on all the recent developments taking place in the company. Ethical code of Macy’s, Inc. is an example of fair business conduct. It emphasizes subscribing to ethical business practices in every aspect of Macy’s business, protecting the interests of their shareholders, ensuring quality and value to Macy’s customers in all dealings, obeying all laws – including the spirit of law as well as the letter, respecting the rights and property of others – including the refusal to participate or tacitly support any fraud or deceptive activity, and being good corporate citizens (Macy’s, Inc., 2008).


Respect implies acknowledging the basic human dignity of all stakeholders, valuing individual differences without stereotyping customers according to demographic variables such as gender, race, sexual orientation, taking customers’ needs into account, establishing contact with suppliers, intermediaries and distributors from other cultures, and valuing the contributions of others, such as consultants, employees and coworkers, to the success of marketing efforts.

Macy’s, Inc. regards diversity as a key business initiative and an integral part of all dimensions of the company’s business. It tries to ensure diversity within its work force, customer base, community and vendor relationships. Its commitment to an inclusive work environment allows Macy’s, Inc. to attract and retain a talented workforce that reflects the growing diversity of our communities and encourages creative thinking and innovation. Macy’s, Inc. has succeeded in creating an environment of respect where every employee’s contribution is valued.

Women represent more than 75% of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s workforce and more than 68% of our managers. Racial minorities are more than 50% of the workforce and 29% of the management ranks. Macy’s, Inc. believes that it is imperative that it reflects the range of diverse customers it serves in its marketing practices.

Diversity, Inc. ranked Macy’s, Inc. as No. 20 among ‘America’s Top 50’ companies for diversity in 2006. For the sixth year in a row, Latina Style magazine mentioned Macy’s, Inc. among the 50 best employers in the United States for Latinas. The assessment was based on considerations such as the number of Latina executives, mentoring programs and educational opportunities.

The National Association for Female Executives named Macy’s, Inc. as one of the ‘Top 10 Companies in America’ for executive women in 2005. The assessment is based on the representation of women overall in the company, in senior management, on the Board of Directors, and among top earners. Macy’s, Inc. was an original sponsor and one of three corporate sponsors of the third annual National Urban League Women of Power luncheon at the organization’s national conference.

Hispanic Magazine listed Macy’s, Inc. among the 100 companies providing the best employment opportunities for Hispanics. Macy’s, Inc. scored 86, the second highest rating, on the ‘Corporate Equality Index’ of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in 2005. It also was named an ‘Employer of Choice’ by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association for ‘distinguished diversity efforts.’ Essence magazine mentioned Macy’s, Inc. among the 25 Great Places to Work for African-American women (Macy’s, Inc., 2008, ‘Diversity: Year in Review’).


Openness, interpreted as transparency in all marketing operations, is another central value of Macy’s philosophy:

‘Macy’s believes that ethical accounting and business practices are essential to the ability of any company to earn and retain investor confidence’ (Macy’s, Inc., 2008, ‘Corporate Governance,’ para. 1).

The company provides free print and electronic versions of its Annual Report to all citizens. They have a calendar of public disclosures indicating the dates on which important information will be released for public scrutiny.


This value refers to fulfilling the economic, legal, philanthropic and societal responsibilities that serve stakeholders in a strategic manner. Macy’s focus has been on giving back to the community through volunteerism and charitable donations for many decades. Macy’s was among the first American enterprises to recognize the importance and potential of Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. During the World War II, Federated Department Stores (the previous name of Macy’s) engaged in selling war bonds, volunteering with the Red Cross, helping in Victory Gardens and participating in United Service Organization, a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the troops by providing morale, welfare and recreation-type services to American soldiers. The Federated Foundation was founded in 1980, setting aside $15 million in earnings to establish the corpus of this charitable trust (Macy’s, 2008, ‘Macy’s, Inc. History ’).

Nowadays Macy’s sponsors such events as ‘Passport,’ the West Coast’s largest annual fashion show aimed at fundraising for people living with HIV/AIDS and related awareness-raising campaigns, ‘For the Love of Her Life,’ an annual fundraiser for breast cancer research, and the American Heart Association’s ‘Go Red For Women’ education campaign that increases awareness to the threat of heart disease among female population.

An innovative approach to corporate social responsibility is shown by Macy’s through the variety of programs aimed at encouraging charity and volunteering among its employees. For example, ‘Partners in Time’ initiative endorses employees’ volunteering at community-based organizations and programs of their choice, e.g. those dealing with education, women’s and children’s issues, food aid, and care for the homeless and the elderly. Events that are carried out annually at all Macy’s stores in the framework of this program are ‘Bag Hunger’ (workers’ food drive for local food banks) and ‘Adopt-a-Family.’ A similar initiative aimed at engaging employees in providing support to the needy is titled ‘The United Way.’

The Macy’s Inc. Foundation also provides a grant of $250 for the participants of ‘Earning For Learning,’ a program that motivates Macy’s workers, retirees, and their family members to volunteer in their children’s schools for fifteen hours, either at a school or for a student-related project. Macy’s Inc. Corporate Matching Gift Program matches employee donations from $50 to $20,000 to eligible agencies, e.g. non-profit educational establishments, arts and cultural institutions, and special focus programs, such as Breast Cancer, Community Based Domestic Violence, Food Aid, and HIV/AIDS (Macy’s, 2008, ‘Community Relations’).

Macy’s, Inc. also supports organizations such as the United Negro College Fund, the Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, and the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund as part of our focus on programs for youth and education (Macy’s, Inc., 2008, ‘Diversity: Year in Review’).


Macy’s. (2007). Home Page. Retrieved November 28, 2007, from



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