Posted: October 17th, 2013
Ethical Leadership Paper
Ethical dilemma implies a confusing situation when the ethics of a person are applied. This situation is often complex and arises from the disagreement between a person’s moral imperatives. In certain situations, this confusion arises in a professional sense when the moral principles of a person are unable to figure out the correct course of action. It may also manifest itself between people due to conflicting ideologies. Ethical dilemmas can occur anytime and in any place but are most often witnessed in work places. This can be attributed to the ethical diversities exhibited by the workers. People in the workplace hail from different moral and cultural backgrounds and these increases the chances of conflict (Carnes, 32). Normally, workplaces exhibit definite action patters that may conflict with a person’s ideologies. The result is a confusing situation where the person involved is not sure on the right course of action to undertake.
Apple Company’s new leader at Foxconn had to deal with an ethical dilemma. As Tim Cook took over as Apple’s new CEO from the late Steve Jobs, he was almost immediately bombarded with an ethical dilemma where employees threatened suicide as a means of protesting their working conditions. Recently, articles reported that the new CEO earned over 350 million US dollars in 2011 (Willis, 25). His remarkable success was attributed to his inheritance over the global technology company, renowned for its innovation and creativity; the company worth well over 90 billion dollars in cash reserves. Nevertheless, one cannot overlook the serious problems facing Foxconn, one of the company’s main suppliers. Recently, employees threatened to engage in mass suicide hence posing a massive ethical dilemma for Tim Cook (Leaders We Deserve, 1).
As an article of the Telegraph reported, around 150 employees at Foxconn, the largest global electronic manufacturer, threatened to engage in mass suicide by leaping from the roof of the factory as a protest over harsh working conditions. However, the employees were eventually convinced to abort the threat after two days on the roof the company’s managers and officials from a Chinese communist party. Many organizations have a tendency of highlighting progress in their annual reports against merits on corporate social responsibility. Even though commendable, it is vital to go beyond corporate fanfare and glossy brochures. Increasingly, social-economic considerations are coming in to play hence creating conflicting priorities that oppose financial merits.
Indeed, Apple is well placed to have an influence over matters at Foxconn. Despite Cook’ assurances that the company is focused on achieving high social responsibility standards across its global chain of supply. An online article published in January 2012 noted the apparent silence of Apple Company but highlighted ongoing investigations by New York Times. The article is a testament of the problems surrounding Foxconn. The situation at Foxconn had not developed overnight. The Guardian reported in January 2012 that the problems had been there since 2010 (Leaders We Deserve, 1). In that year, eighteen employees at Foxconn Company attempted suicide and fourteen died. Labor organizations blamed long working hours, inhuman treatment, and low wages as the main factors of the protest.
It is imperative to understand that leaders have to embrace ethics. In January 2012, Apple Company submitted a report of the company’s financial results over the first quarter of the financial period. The figures beat the expectations of many analysts. Analysts shifted their focus on the merits of the company’s results- approximating dividend payments and revenue forecasts. This news is good the shareholders of the company but in no way benefited the employees especially those in Foxconn. Borrowing from the Dilemmas associated with leadership, ethical matters come as unwelcome interruptions in search of economic success. The financial success of Apple Company cannot be underestimated. However, it handling of ethical matters such as employees’ welfare is clearly dwindling. Constant negative coverage by the media on the matter ultimately began to influence the perceptions of the company (Leaders We Deserve, 1). This posed a negative impact on the economic success.
The Telegraph however noted that the company had been working on several initiatives designed to quell pressure. In response to the issue, the company for the first time published a report on 158 of its suppliers, representing a major potion of its supply chain. The company also became a member of Fair Labor Association, making it the first technological company on that level. Apple also works hand in hand with environmental groups, labor rights advocating groups, and agreed to permit external monitors in the supply factories (Leaders We Deserve, 1). The challenges witnessed at Foxconn provided an opportunity for the company to show an example that it can excel social matters rather than financial.
One has to commend Mr. Cook for the way he handled the matter. He managed to quell the challenge professionally and the protest by the employees was aborted. The followed the recommended protocols on means of approaching and dealing with an ethical dilemma- evaluate the appropriate course of action, identify the consequences, make a decision. However, I personally cannot help but think that he could have done more. In this case, if it were up to me, I would have engaged the employees in an orderly meeting where a selected member would air their grievances. A team of managers would form the officials in the meeting and a final decision would be made at the best interests of the employees.
Carnes, Lesly. “Ethics in Leadership (primo 13).” (2011). Print.
Gilworth, Gael. Apple after Steve Jobs. New York: Holiday House, 2011. Print
Leaders We Deserve. 2012. “Apple’s New Leader faces Ethical Dilemmas at Foxconn.” October 30, 2012 http://leaderswedeserve.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/apples-new-leader-faces-ethical-dilemmas-at-foxconn/
Willis, Clark. “Status of Apple Company: 2012.” (2002). Print.
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