Steven Wozniak formed an Apple computer in April 1976. He had previously worked for Hewlett-Packard. His friend Steven jobs working for Atari was the driving force for them to form a company jointly and market the apple 1 computer. Later in 1983, they produced a revolutionary computer that used graphical user interface: the Lisa. By then apple had employed thousands and succeeded in many fronts with Macs user-friendly interface in its products.
For sure, Apple ignited the computer revolution changing the computing world for ever. As years progressed the company had to outsource services as well as subcontracting some of its production from other countries (Resnick, 2004). Ethical and moral issues are complex since they involve the culture of the company, which is extremely diverse. At apple, ethical violations could negatively impact on the company’s reputations. This could hurt the company economically and have enormous effects on the workforce.
Ethical Dilemmas at Apple
These are disagreement about acceptable ethical principles towards employment conditions, human rights, environmental pollution and corruption. With the heavy pressure on the computing industry to find a low-cost provider’s Apple looked globally for the solution. With guidelines on certain ethical issues apple has found itself in several ethical dilemmas. This includes but not limited to: the issue of violation of its ethics by suppliers and subcontractors in exchange for cheaper and cost effective production. Secondly, the moral of helping its customers recover lost products while ensuring that their privacy is observed.
Apple sets standards and regulation to be followed by both its workforce and the suppliers. Ethical issues arise whenever a company does business in a different country. Since there are differences in economic development, legal system as well as culture. Apple ensures business ethics by having a set of policies against which suppliers and subcontractors are audited regularly. What is considered normal in one nation is considered unethical in another. This puts multinational firms in an extraordinarily sensitive position to ensure that these differences in expectations in practices do not effect production.
Ethics sometimes are ignored when an organizations culture is not strong enough from the top down. When this occurs the human resource department is usually involved in conflict resolution, violation of company policy and federal laws. Having a management culture that encourages ethical ignorance is a risky affair. Apple found itself in such a condition in 2006 when there were reports that there were labor abuses at a Chinese factory that was producing the iPod. With claims that workers were being paid as little as $50 and had 15 hours shifts apple moved fast to perform an audit of the plant.
Basic Principles on Supplier Ethics
Suppliers and sub contractors of the company must uphold certain rules and regulation for them to do business with apple. The whole organization should embrace and support ethics programs through active assessments and research that produce leading edge solutions to apples ethical challenges. Collaboration during recruitments and subcontracting is also particularly significant. A supplier code of ethics was developed to set out basic principles to guide suppliers on ethical issues. These basic principles include but not limited to the following.
Suppliers must ensure that their work force is free of harassment. Discrimination against any worker based on race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, union membership or political affiliation during recruitment or promotions is not acceptable (Kruckenberg, & Starck, 1988). Suppliers should not demand employees to undergo a medical test for use as elimination for recruitment, job assignments, termination of employment and training except where it is required by law to do so. Suppliers should ensure the harassment free environment no cases of physical coercion, verbal abuse and corporal punishment occur.
Use of Voluntary and Underage Labor
At no time shall the suppliers use any kind of slavery for production. Workers should not be forced to work and should have the freedom to leave or terminate their employment. Suppliers should also ensure that third party labor agencies also adhere to these regulations. It is complex since income cases the society might support this since the society has classified people as unequal. They should also ensure that for any contractual kind of employment that it is provided to the employee in a language easily understood by the worker communicating all the terms and conditions of employment.
Child labor should not be used by any supplier of apple with the minimum age for employment being 15 years or the age set by the specific country based on the educational system whichever is higher. It turns out to be a dilemma when it is realized that the underage workers are the only breadwinners in their family and sucking them will lead to more pain in the society. Workplace apprenticeship programs should be consistent with international labor laws. Working hours per week should be restricted to 60 hours including overtime with at least a day off in a week. This can only be compromised in case of an emergency. Apple found itself in this situation after an audit of the Hongfuin precision industry revealed that workers worked for more than 60 hours a week.
Payments and Benefits
Suppliers must pay all workers at least the minimum wage set by the governing body in the respective countries and provide benefits as provided by law. All overtime worked should be voluntary and must be compensated appropriately. At no moment should they use deductions as a disciplinary measure. Regular and timely payroll system should be in place.
Membership to Unions
Workers must have the right to associate freely and join employee unions f thee own choice for collective bargaining as permitted by the law. Employment should not be subject to union membership or participation in union activities. Apple has developed public relation packages to enable their subcontractors to deal with workers problems proactively. Safety management procedures in production must be used. The suppliers must ensure eliminate physical hazards by use of physical guards or sound production practices (Johnson & Snapper 1985, 27).
Risk assessments and audits should be done on a regular basis to ensure compliance with the ethics code of conduct. This will ensure that even if components are being manufactured in china where unethical practices of child labor, overworking of workers , bribery and poor working conditions don’t happen since they will be discovered at some point and this will negatively impact on the reputation of the company (Schmertz, 1986). However, the focus on cost is esteemed the failure of suppliers to adhere to the code of ethics severe penalty or even termination of the contract may be considered. This will ensure that the company maintains a respectable image (Stair & Reynolds 2009, 611).
Location and Identification of Stolen Products versus Privacy
Apple has the ability of locating any reported lost iPod since it has a database of their serial numbers as well as an internal kill switch that is maintained by the company for any iPod. This switch is capable of shutting down and erases any application in the user s phone if it is being used maliciously. Since the Apple’s iPhone comes equipped with a GPS, which can make it possible for location anywhere on earth by use of a combination of 24 satellites (peleg, 2008).
With the enormous apple servers iPhones can be located anywhere on earth. Apple can also be able to track the frequency of use of their products and have data on consumption per country. By use of the GIS, mapping and tracing of lost iPhones can be made possible by apple. There might be existing services for tracking and recovery of iPhones but this whole process can be more efficient if apple was in charge. Whenever an iPhone is plugged, it contacts the apple servers immediately. (Harrington , 1999)
A theft monitoring system would cost the company a large budget since more than a 100 million iPhones are in use today worldwide. The management should commit itself to ensure ethical practices even with any kind of system that apple has. With the company’s large databases on users of their products including their names, addresses and the serial numbers of their iPhones it would be possible to increase the chances of recovering the iPhones whenever lost in collaboration with relevant authorities (Quelch, 2009).
This could increase their customer confidence in storing valuable information as well as have a peace of mind when owning an apple gadget. All this would come at compromised privacy of the users. However, this should not be a reason to find innovative ways of fighting crime. Moreover, apple still can track your iPhone even if it was not your request to track it since they have all the information. A culture of the company to help their customers live a more comfortable life, which is stress free, would uplift the image of the company (Fombrun, 1996).
Apple has a moral obligation to give back to the societies that enable it to prosper and grow. The tracking system can be viewed as a social responsibility for the company. With its size and revenues, it is argued that power comes with a responsibility (Grow& Hamm, 2005. During decision making process every organization should consider the social and economic consequences of the business decision.
Social responsibility can be seen as the only way a business can behave in a humane manner and this noble action would win a lot of praise. Since there are no easy answers to what is the right thing to do in such situations the management should take a deeper look into the situation (Jones, & Chase, 1979) . A moral compass or even an ethical algorithm can be used by the management while developing a solution to the situation. Ethical dilemmas exist since most real world problems are complex and difficult to solve without consequences directly or indirectly (Dale & Lewis 209, 542).
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