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Code of Ethics “Home Cooking Catering Company”

Introduction

The “Home Cooking” Catering Company (HCCC) is a business based on providing unique catering experiences to clients in their own homes.  The company contracts with clients to use the clients’ own cooking facilities, and to present the event within the clients’ homes.  The purpose is to offer an experience no other caterer can offer.  As the client works with the HCCC in advance of the event, and as the HCCC is operating within these personal spaces, the company can then provide an event perfectly suited to each client’s desires.

The structure of HCCC is essentially that of a full-service business, with an emphasis on service.  Operations and business mainly occur through the Internet, as clients can select from a variety of options regarding the event they have in mind.  Once this is done, direct communication follows between the HCCC and the client, in order to establish a service contract completely agreed upon by all ;parties.  The HCCC then calls upon its resources of cooks, servers, and cleaning staff to prepare and create the event.  Depending upon the event, the company will employ both its own materials (cookware, table settings, glassware, etc.), along with those provided by the client.  The same cooperation is in place with the necessary food and beverage items, in that the HCCC will make every effort to utilize what the client wants used, or obtain the desired materials.

The HCCC offers its services to a wide range of clients.  The company will prepare, serve, and clean up for a dinner for four, or do the same for a function of 100; the key element lies in the setting as belonging to the client, as well as in the mutual cooperation between the HCCC and the client to present a seamless and uniquely personal experience.  Equally important is the responsibility the HCCC takes in maintaining and respecting the client’s environment, before, during, and after the event.  As the company’s maintenance of these standards is continued, customer satisfaction will encourage further business, and the HCCC will be able to expand its operations to accommodate larger functions, and operate in wider locations.  No matter the company growth, however, the insistence on observing and respecting the personal element of the service will always be the company’s primary concern.

Mission Statement

The “Home Cooking” Catering Company exists to blend modern convenience and expert skill with the social needs of a changing society.  In today’s world, people are looking beyond restaurants and event locations when they wish to arrange an important event, and this is as true of the business person seeking to impress new partners as it is of the young couple hosting their first dinner party.  It is the personal and the individual that is wanted, as people wish to express themselves in how events are carried out.  At the same time, the modern man and woman is educated in fine food and service, and wants only the best.  The “Home Cooking” mission, then, is to create this new platform that marries personal taste and environment with the highest levels of professional cooking and service.  We are in place to bring a satisfaction to personal entertaining that can be achieved in no other way, as we are fully committed to setting new standards in care, commitment, and expertise.

Guiding Principles and Core Ethics

The ethics of the HCCC and its guiding principles are one and the same.  As the company is completely based upon developing relationships with the clients, and in a way fulfilling the expectations of the clients to the highest degree, consideration for the customer’s concern and interests is our primary element.  This is largely true of most businesses, particularly those relying on customer service.   Customer service, in fact, is the single most important component in business today (Jordan, Crews, 2012,  p. 345). The HCCC, however, does not have the luxury of performing its obligations “from a distance,” as some companies do.  The company’s role is linked to the client’s environment and agenda.  Adhering to ethics is critical for any organization, and both in terms of its internal policies and its business ventures.  Given the unique service that the HCCC offers, there must be an even greater emphasis on such ethics.

This commitment of the company may be clearly understood in terms of the mentioned interactive nature of it.  While the company most certainly exists to grow and to generate profit, it consistently maintains an awareness of the great responsibility in operating from the client’s residence, as well as that of meeting – and exceeding – the expectations of the client as determined by the contract.  In simple terms, we are going into private homes or offices, using facilities belonging to the clients, and occupying space that is not our own.  This creates an obligation to function in a fully ethical manner at all times, with consistent respect and consideration for the client and the environment demonstrated by all staff.  This guiding principle, moreover, is not restricted to the actual service.  The HCCC willingly acknowledges the same responsibility from the moment the client inquires as to our services.  The ethical practices and ideologies in place, then, must reflect one another.  The company expresses its own integrity by dealing honestly with each client, in terms of arranging a function.  It makes no promises it cannot fulfill, and it does not ignore realities that may surface later.  Then, this integrity of approach is supported by the actual service provided.  It is also reinforced by our commitment to finishing the work, and leaving the client’s environment, exactly as desired by that client.  Consequently, the guiding principles of the HCCC are synonymous with the company’s ethics.  We cannot succeed, in fact, if we do not maintain the highest levels of consideration, respect, and professionalism, just as these same elements must be in place within the internal operations of the company.

Employees and Training

Several types of employees work within the HCCC and, as in many businesses, the functions of each type directly relate to those of the others.  On one level, there are those administrators responsible for maintain the company website and for serving as contract agents with clients.  These are the “non-service” employees.  They do not actually attend or work the functions.  They provide information to clients and negotiate contracts, as they are also responsible for processing payment.  This job demands interaction with event supervisors and chefs, as well as an ongoing knowledge base of food, beverage, and equipment providers.  Only by being thoroughly knowledgeable as to what the HCCC may effectively do can these agents negotiate with clients in good faith.  This is the management rank of the company.  Certain individuals within it will be less responsible for actual contract arrangements, and more for human resources purposes.  This is not an inappropriate extension of duties, as the company’s philosophy relies on a complete integration of all personnel.  More simply, those who fully understand the needs of the clients, as do the contract agents, are those most capable of correctly hiring staff.  To that end, these individuals are also instructed in all legalities of the processes of employment.

Event planners and supervisors are another tier of the company.  These are the individuals who take over when the contract is made, and then engage in direct communication with the client.  It is essential here that one supervisor be assigned to lead each event, so that the client has a reliable “go-to” person for all concerns.  The supervisor then works with the appropriate chef(s) for the occasion in menu-planning and strategizing, and also determines and engages the correct amount of service personnel.  This entails the responsibility of scheduling servers, making known the time, place, and requirements of the function and assuring that the necessary staff will be present.  In an equal position to this supervisor is the chef assigned to lead the cooking team.  This person performs for the kitchen the same role the supervisor does for the service elements; they plan the menu, work with the contract agents and the client in arranging the necessary provisions and materials, and coordinate the kitchen help needed for the function.  Beyond this, the HCCC relies on a foundation of full and part time servers, cooks, and bartenders.  These individuals are selected and trained to represent the highest order of professionalism in their respective duties.  Each is also aware that the jobs require clean up of the space following the event.

In regard to training, the interactive nature of the company must again be reinforced.  On one level, those chefs most experienced and highly placed within the company are responsible for hiring and training cooks and kitchen assistants, in cooperation with the contract agents assigned to this function.  This translates to the chef determining the degree of training needed in individual cases, as the selecting of appropriate employees for each event is also based upon the chef’s discretion.  The same premise holds for the service supervisors.  They work with the agents in interviewing and hiring processes, and then train according to the abilities of the new employees chosen.  This system is in place because of the HCCC’s unique presence; that is to say, servers and cooks not necessarily of high skill levels may be right for casual events.  At the same time, all employee training is based on a foundation of absolute professionalism, no matter the status or cost of the event.  Chefs and supervisors are encouraged to conduct training sessions to reinforce basic levels of professional conduct.  Given the parameters of the business as not operating within one environment, these sessions are recommended to take place at times set before actual service, when groups of employees must be present.  This system then allows for the leaders to convey a clearer sense of what the event requires, even as they also reinforce general standards of behavior.

No employee of any kind is hired without acknowledged commitment to company ethical policy, and the contracts between company and employee binding in this regard.  On a pragmatic level, the employees understand that, as they will be functioning in private homes and spaces, laws outside of company policies may apply if conduct damages property or in some other way damages the event.  At the same time, the emphasis on the company’s ethical principles is stressed in a way reinforcing to the employee the absolute necessity of it.  An ethics code that is not properly and consistently communicated is dangerous for a company (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2012,  p. 225), mainly because the employee is less aware of how ethics directly affect a business’s existence.  The HCCC maintains a consistent and overt integration of its ethical requirements within all facets of its operations.  The company’s commitment to ethics, and to the guiding principles of it, are made known to all employees, not as value systems removed from the actual life and business of the company, but as practical forces necessary to advance the company and all of its employees.

Enforcing and Discipline of Ethical Practices

In the matter of employee discipline, the HCCC faces issues common to most businesses.  That is, while violations of policy in general terms may be addressed through chains of disciplinary action, ethical breaches are usually less clear or are more subject to interpretation.  On one level, even as the company insists on the employee adhering to its ethical policies, these are not intended to “box in” the employee, or make them fearful of asserting themselves in potentially helpful ways.  All employees are encouraged to contribute their ideas, and both in general and specific ways.  Maintaining ethics in regard to caring for the client’s space is essential, but so is taking steps not necessarily in the plan that will increase customer satisfaction, and this is an ethical factor in itself.  When employees are empowered to think in this way, they advance the interests of the company as they advance their own senses of contributing to it (Gibson, 2011,  p. 46).  The HCCC employee understands that the company’s commitment to ethics, then, applies as much to them as to the client.

This is also true of how actual discipline is carried out.  There are, unfortunately, situations when violations of policy demand immediate action and/or termination.  The employee who is violent, abusive, or behaving in any way that threatens property or an individual is to be immediately fired.  Other circumstances, however, call for different reactions, and the “unique” quality of the HCCC applies here as well.  As employees are individuals, the range of actions calling for some type of discipline is virtually limitless, and this fact supports practicing discipline that is ongoing.  Progressive discipline also works better for the company seeking a legitimate and humane approach to employee issues. Here, as noted, ethics come into play, even when the problem is an ethical violation of the employee.  While a company is under no legal obligation to discipline in a progressive way, doing so is more moral; it allows opportunities for the employee to learn (Gilbert, 2012,  p. 141).

An example of the progressive discipline practiced by the HCCC is the case of Joe X.  A server with extensive skill and experience, Joe worked at a dinner function demanding high standards of behavior.  He performed his duties well, but the client later complained that Joe engaged in conversation with guests to an inappropriate extent.  This behavior did not disrupt or ruin the event and, when asked about it, Joe reported that he simply was enjoying the work and the function.  Given that there was a customer complaint, the HCCC could have legitimately suspended or terminated Joe.  However, the better course was in explaining to him the real nature of the client’s complaint.  It was not personal, but professional, and Joe had not complied with the requirements of the event.  At the same time, and in keeping with fair ethics, Joe was informed that his supervisor was also being disciplined, and in a more severe way.  Joe received a verbal warning, but the supervisor received a written one, because the supervisor was ethically more responsible for the issue.  This treatment solved the problem, as Joe realized that he was not being singled out unfairly.  Research reveals one fact: when employees are disciplined fairly, the discipline is far more effective (Trevino, Nelson, 2010,  p. 167).  As the supervisor had the larger responsibility, ethics demanded that the company react acknowledging this.

Another example goes more to direct, ethical breaches.  Sue, a cook, was witnessed taking two bottles of wine from the service area and placing them in her bag.  When confronted by this fact, Sue admitted to the action but held that, as far as she knew, employees were entitled to take leftover wine.  The company maintained its ethics in allowing Sue to state her case, as her statement was seriously evaluated.  However, the action was not supported by any evidence of such permission as having been given, and Sue was terminated.  It was made clear to her that actual theft was not the issue or accusation; it was felt she had violated the company’s ethics by disregarding the authority of her supervisor.  Her statement was not seen as a falsehood.  Still, the act itself still went beyond the boundaries of acceptable behavior.  Here, also, is further evidence of how ethics is not external to the business, but a vital part of all its operations, both externally and internally.  Just as the company is committed to respecting the needs and integrity of its clients, this may only be done when there is also a similar, ethical respect for its employees.

Conclusion

The “Home Cooking” Catering Company is unusual.  It exists to satisfy clients’ wishes in creating events within the clients’ personal spaces, so this translates to an attention to ethics at all levels.  As the business relies on individual circumstances, it is all the more essential that a commitment to ethics be practiced in every part of it.  On an obvious level, the company understands its obligations in respecting the environment of the client, as it reinforces this respect in all its employees.  At the same time, good ethics cannot exist in one arena of an organization if they are not present in the others.  For the company to remain ethically sound, it must apply the same consideration to its people as it does to its client, for this generates an atmosphere in which ethics are an organic part of the business.  In all of its actions and behaviors, the “Home Cooking” Catering Company insists upon ethics as guiding every component of its operation, because the integrity arising from this advances the company, enhances the individual employee and client, and equates to the consistent level of professionalism necessary for the business to succeed.

References

Ferrell, O. C., Fraedrich, J., & Ferrell, L. (2012).  Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making and Cases.  Belmont: Cengage Learning.

Gibson, P.  (2011).  The World of Customer Service.  Belmont: Cengage Learning.

Gilbert, J. (2012).  Ethics for Managers: Philosophical Foundations & Business Realities.  New York: Routledge.

Jordan, A. K., & Crews, T. B.  (2012).  Investigating Your Career.  Belmont: Cengage Learning.

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