Ethics and the gender equality dilemma for U.S. multinationals

Don Mayer, Anita Cava

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


U.S. multinational enterprises must now follow the policies of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in their overseas operations, at least with respect to U.S. expatriate employees. Doing so in a culture which discourages gender equality in the workplace raises difficult issues, both practically and ethically. Vigorously importing U.S. attitudes toward gender-equality into a social culture such as Japan or Saudi Arabia may seem "ethnocentric," a version of "ethical imperialism." Yet adapting to host country norms risks a kind of "moral relativism." This article supports the view that MNEs which promote workplace equality in a host country such as Japan, which is actively involved in the international economic and political community, is not "ethical imperialism" in any pejorative sense and is preferable to a moral relativism or social contract approach. We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, and endowed by their creator with certain rights - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. U.S. Declaration of Independence, 1776 All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)701-708
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law


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