Organization’s Code of Ethics
Organization’s Code of Ethics
Ethical codes are a set of principles that are adopted by organizations to help members understand the difference between what’s ‘right’ and what’s ‘wrong’, and in using that understanding to make their day to day decisions. They may outline how professionals are supposed to handle problems, the values and missions of the organization, the standards to which professionals will be held against and the ethical principles based on the organization’s core values (Driscoll & Hoffman, 2000). Generally, a code of ethics is meant to clarify an organization’s values, mission and principles, and link them with standards of conduct for professionals. As a reference point, it can also be used to locate relevant documents and other resources that relate to ethics within the organization.
An ethical code is a broad term that is divided into three categories namely codes of conduct, codes of business ethics for employees and codes of professional practice. A Code of conduct is generally addressed and intended for employees alone. It usually sets out restrictions on employee behavior, and is ideally more compliance/rules focused than principle or value focused. Codes of professional practice on the other hand are written guidelines issued by an official body or a professional association to its members to help them comply with its ethical standards (Lowman, 1998).
Codes of business ethics are the specific principles that govern how the organization’s professionals conduct business with the outside world. These might be transactions between the organization’s agents and their clients, their suppliers, the government etc
Apple Inc was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniac and Ronald Wayne in April 1, 1976, Apple Inc. has grown to be an American multinational corporation with its headquarters in Cupertino, California. Over the years, it has matured from selling personal computers to designing, developing, and selling computers and computer software and consumer electronics. It is best known for its hardware products such as the iPod media player, the Mac line of computers and the iPhone smart phone (Apple, 2015).
Their mission statement reads “Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.
Apple has a clearly spelled out code of conduct for its suppliers and employees. It’s a code for the suppliers that clearly as well indicate the consequences of not adhering to that code, and the consequences are quite harsh, I must say. These consequences may include the cancellation of any contract/subcontract for its affiliates, which the code refers to as “suppliers”. Apple’s code of conduct is issued in three phases as discussed below according to (Apple, 2015).
This code outlines how apple suppliers are to treat their own staff, in a way that conforms to labor laws that uphold human rights. This includes specified working hours for the employees, anti-discrimination and anti-harassment and abuse, ensuring that every staff works voluntarily, free from any form of coercion. There should be no underage employees, and in case of juvenile workers, they should not work overtime, perform night duties, or being assigned duties that might put their morals, safety or health in jeopardy, in line with ILO Minimum Age Convention No. 138. Other regulations touch on employee health and safety, minimum wages, hazard prevention at the place of work etc (Gilbert, 2012).
Apple and all its subsidiaries have a responsibility to preserve the natural resource the earth offers, such as water and air. Apple demands of themselves and their suppliers business practices that are environmentally friendly and responsible. They do train their managers on air pollution, so that they are not excused for polluting the air, and also have clean water programs.. Suppliers must identify a way of managing and safely disposing off or recycling hazardous substances that are emitted from the production process. Similarly, they are supposed to monitor and control the noise that is produced by their facilities so that not to affect others and go beyond the boundary noise levels.
Apple expects very high standards of ethical conduct in all of its business endeavors and its suppliers’. When it comes to business relations with other stakeholders, apple expects its employees to work with honesty and integrity. The code discourages any form of corruption or bribery by their workers or suppliers so as to obtain an unfair advantage. The code also requires Apple subjects to accurately give any needed information, to the best of their knowledge, without any misrepresentation or falsification. Since Apple develops and creates electronic gadgets, its code spells out that individual intellectual property rights, such as copyrights, are respected and safeguarded as also noted by (Oertle, 2009). Customer information is according to the code supposed to be safeguarded and treated with confidentiality.
Apple code of ethics requires that there be a management system responsible for the implementation of the code of ethics and that will be held accountable as regards the code of ethics. Everyone of Apple’s subsidiaries are required to have a company statement published in the local language of the country of operation, that affirms and commits themselves to adherence to the code of conduct also as asserted by (Driscoll & Hoffman, 2000).All these are laid out as the company’s expectation to all its subsidiaries to adhere to, and it is a conduct that they themselves adhere to as well.
There are different types of ethical systems as practiced by firms. Before determining which system is applied by Apple, I will briefly explain each system. The first system is Relativistic Ethics, which basically indicate that there are no permanent, universal criteria to ascertain what may or may not be an ethically right and that Ethics is relative to the norms of a given culture, as well as time.
The other system is the Ends-driven ethical system, which suggests that the right action is that which aims at achieving a certain outcome or goal. Entitlement ethics encompasses the concept of rights based ethics, where there are some rights, both negative and positive, that all humans have, based only on the fact that they are human. These rights can be conventional or natural, and dictates that those moral decisions are entirely based on what is in the best interest of the individual.
Finally, duty-driven (legal or religious) ethics claim that there are intrinsic features within actions that determine whether or not those actions are right. Ethical position that determines the “rightness” of an action are solely based on the action’s adherence/conformity to a set of rules. With that in mind, we can strongly ascertain that Apple’s system of ethics is the duty driven system. This is because Apple believes in values that are in themselves self sufficient, in that they are not primarily a means to achieving a desirable outcome, although they may indirectly bring success. Being a multinational corporation, it gives a unified code of ethics, meaning that their ethics are absolute, and not subject to any society (Stanusch, 2012). Moreover, to them, being on the right side of the law is what they are concerned about, which qualifies it to be a duty-driven.
The code of ethics are used to offer a wonderful opportunity for responsible organizations to create for themselves a positive public identity that can lead to a more supportive regulatory and political environment and increased trust as well as level of public confidence among important stakeholders and constituencies. This is what Apple is doing to maintain its public image.
I would however change a few aspects of the code of ethics used by Apple. Its code of ethics is mostly preventive, where malpractices are discouraged. It’s so necessary when an organization gets to a level where right values and principles are instilled, rather than discouraging wrong values. For example, a code of ethics on how to deal ethically with customers is more likely to achieve more results than that which outlines malpractices to avoid as asserted by (Menzel, 2007).
Driscoll, D., & Hoffman, W. (2000). Ethics matters: How to implement values-driven management. Waltham, Mass.: Bentley College Center for Business Ethics.
Gilbert, S. (2012). The story of Apple. Mankato, MN: Creative Education.
Lowman, R. (1998). The ethical practice of psychology in organizations. Washington, DC: American Psychological.
Menzel, D. (2007). Ethics management for public administrators building organizations of integrity. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe.
Oertle, K. (2009). Rehabilitation professionals’ participation intensity and expectations of transition roles.
Stanusch, A. (2012). Academic ethos management building the foundation for integrity in management education. New York, N.Y.] (222 East 46th Street, New York, NY 10017): Business Expert Press.
Accountability. (n.d.). Retrieved March 29, 2015, from https://www.apple.com/supplier-responsibility/
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