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Ethical Analysis of Tom's of Maine

The subject of this analysis is Tom Chappell, originator and current president of Tom's of Maine. Tom's of Maine is a small company creating oral care and personal hygiene products using natural ingredients. It has been increasingly successful, attaining a 20 percent growth rate and gaining a 5 percent market share, while also asserting that it is a socially responsible business.

From the beginning, in 1970, Tom Chappell was concerned with maintaining an environmentally responsible company offering natural products. He also emphasized crueltyfree products that did not use animal testing or animal ingredients. However, he indicated, it was not until he attended divinity school that he developed a clearer understanding of how his values and ethical commitments could impact all areas of his business conduct. Before that time, he noted, he had become unhappy with his business success and uncertain about the direction of the company. He sought a way to integrate his spiritual life with that of his colleagues and coworkers in service to their customers.

Chappell noted that he was specifically affected by the theology of Richard Niebuhr in developing his new integration. He indicated that he went into his classes with the question of whether sound business practices could be congruent with respect for humanity and nature, and his basic values. His readings led him to believe that people did not have to sell their souls for money, but that values could participate in even the smallest business decisions (Chappell, 1993, p. Xii).

Chappell noted that before his attendance at divinity school, the arguments at board meetings had been about profit and social responsibility as either/or propositions. After his attendance, however, he became convinced that these were both/and. The difficult part, however, was turning values and beliefs into a plan of action (MacArthur, 1995).

This started with a decision-making process desi...

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