Archive for the ‘Business ethics’ Category

Is it ethical to eat Chick-fil-A?

June 29, 2013

Dan-Cathy-Chick-Fil-A-DOMA-Tweet-520x400The other night I attended the grand opening of Westwood Village’s newest restaurant, a Chick-fil-A. C.R., the young owner (all, or most of the brand’s restaurants are privately owned), welcomed us with warmth and excitement at starting his own business in a friendly new—to him—city.

After speeches and music we were treated to a sampler of all the wares, from three kinds of chicken sandwiches to salads, yogurt parfaits, and finally the richest chocolate chunk (not measly chip) cookies to send us on our way.

But when I told my daughter Lisa about the event she scowled and proclaimed that she wouldn’t patronize a homophobic business like Chick-fil-A.

I protested that the views were those of the company president, Dan Cathy, not of the corporation, and I’d be shocked if individual store owners like C.R. harbored anti-gay sentiments.

But now I wonder, is it ethical to patronize a business whose owner promotes views that are abhorrent to me?

Cathy was brought up in the Bible belt with biblical warnings about the evil (more…)

Special offer on ethics seminars, and on The Ethics Challenge

March 8, 2013

Jiminy1) I’ll visit your workplace or school and do a pro bono seminar on either

  • The Ethics Challenge: Essential Skills for Leading and Living, or
  •  The ABCs of Ethical Leadership

If the seminar is out of the LA commuting area I’ll ask you to cover my reasonable expenses.

2) Alternatively (or in addition), you can buy my latest book(co-authored with Mick Ukleja) in hard cover for only $10, with free shipping.

Here are the details on the offers:

Seminars: email me at bobstone17@gmail.com to make arrangements, for (more…)

Subway’s ‘FOOTLONG’ is a description, not a measurement

January 28, 2013

 

Subway footlongYears ago on a cold day I bought a hot dog from a vendor outside Philadelphia’s Franklin Field, and after biting into it and getting a chill in my teeth I asked the boy who sold it how he could call it a HOT dog when it wasn’t even warm. He responded, “It’s just the NAME, not the TEMP-A-CHOOR.”

Two years ago the boy’s remark was topped by a spokesman for then-Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ), who explained an outrageous lie that the Senator had told about Planned Parenthood, ‘his remark was not intended to be a factual statement.

And now Subway (Australia), whose footlong sandwiches have been discovered to be only eleven inches long, gave their explanation: ” ‘SUBWAY FOOTLONG’ is a registered trademark as a descriptive name for the sub sold in Subway Restaurants and not intended to be a measurement of length.”

(Thanks to New York Post for the photo)

 

Special offer on ethics seminars, and on The Ethics Challenge

August 14, 2012

1) I’ll visit your workplace or school and do a pro bono seminar on either

·       The Ethics Challenge: Essential Skills for Leading and Living, or

·       The ABCs of Ethical Leadership

If the seminar is out of the LA commuting area I’ll ask you to cover my reasonable expenses.

2) Alternatively (or in addition), you can buy my latest book(co-authored with Mick Ukleja) in hard cover for only $10, with free shipping.

Here are the details on the offers:

Seminars: email me at bobstone17@gmail.com to make arrangements, for

·         The Ethics Challenge: Essential Skills for Leading and Living

This is unlike any mandatory ethics training: no talk about FCPA, SEC, or DOJ. It covers what it means to behave ethically, and how that differs from merely behaving legally or in compliance with the rules. I start with the basics: keep your word and follow the Golden Rule. I finish with three essential skills for living and leading. These skills are easy to describe, not so easy to live, but living them will sharpen one’s ethical sensitivity and make it easier to keep strong and to follow one’s good intentions.

or

·                         The ABCs of Ethical Leadership

The ABCs, are authenticity, buoyancy and conviction. Simple stuff. (more…)

Vast Mexico Bribery Case Hushed Up by Wal-Mart

April 21, 2012

After Top-Level Struggle Confronted with evidence of widespread corruption in Mexico, top Wal-Mart executives focused more on damage control than on rooting out wrongdoing, an examination by The New York Times found. 

The headlines are from Saturday’s New York Times. The news article details how Walmart de Mexico—that nation’s largest employer—regularly paid huge bribes to Mexican government officials to approve permits for new stores; how senior management of the Mexican subsidiary was party to the bribery; how Walmart headquarters in Arkansas investigated the allegations of bribery, and how, when the investigations turned up hard evidence, hq proceeded to bury it.

“It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.” So goes the conventional wisdom, but in this case it was both: the crime was committed by top management of the Mexico subsidiary, and the cover up was by top management of the parent company.

In my business ethics courses we use Walmart as a case study: Is the company ethical or unethical, and is it good or bad for America.

On the plus side Walmart gives employment to hundreds of thousands (more…)

Hooray for Apple CEO Tim Cook for seriously addressing labor issues in China. When will Nike follow suit?

April 2, 2012

 

Business ethics presents a dilemma when it comes to purchases from low-wage countries. Cheap labor in China makes cool iPhones for us, and cheap labor in Indonesia makes snazzy Nikes. But should an ethical person buy these products? More specifically, are Nike and Apple unethically exploiting the people who make the products they sell so profitably?

I’ve written before that Nike’s business practices are unethical, while Apple seems to be trying to do right by the workers who make its products. A January New York Times article highlighted abusive working conditions at Foxconn, a major supplier of iPhone and iPad parts in Shenzen, China. In response Apple requested an independent audit of Foxconn,and Foxconn announced an immediate pay raise.

Now the New York Times reports that Tim Cook, ,Apple’s CEO, has actually toured a Foxconn factory where its products are made, and the audit he requested has slammed Foxconn for over-long hours and dangerous working conditions. In response, Foxconn promised to make substantial improvements and bring their plants into conformance with Apple’s code of conduct.

The Times notes,

“Mr. Cook’s appearance at a facility where Apple devices are made was an illustration of how differently Apple’s new chief relates to an issue that first surfaced under his predecessor, Steven P. Jobs.

“Since Mr. Cook became chief executive last fall, shortly before the death of Mr. Jobs, Apple has taken a number of significant steps to address concerns about how Apple products are made.”

This is encouraging. Tim Cook looks headed in a very different direction than Steve Jobs, and very different from Nike’s Phil Knight and Mark Parker. Cook actually WENT there. (Thanks to Rick Cole for the link.)

I buy Apple products. I don’t buy Nike.

 

Special offer on ethics seminars, and on The Ethics Challenge

March 5, 2012

To mark two years of EthicsBob.com and 25,000 views I’m celebrating with these two offers:

1) I’ll visit your workplace or school and do a one-hour seminar on either

·         The Ethics Challenge: Essential Skills for Leading and Living, or

·        The ABCs of Ethical Leadership

I’ll do the seminar pro bono; if it’s out of the LA commuting area I’ll ask you to cover my reasonable expenses.

2) Alternatively (or in addition), you can buy my latest book (co-authored with Mick Ukleja) in hard cover for only $10, with free shipping.

Here are the details on the offers: (more…)

Nike’s unethical; Apple maybe not so much

February 27, 2012

 

Nike shoes are a bargain at $220 a pair. They must be, else why would hundreds of people have showed up Thursday at a Greenwood, Indiana, mall, according to the police report, “panicking to get to the front of the line” for the limited release of the $220 Foamposite Galaxy. The next day in Orlando it took a hundred deputies in riot gear to subdue a crowd waiting for the new Galaxy.

Similar riots attended Nike’s December release of the latest in the Air Jordan line, the $180 Air Jordan XI Concord.

The Air Jordans cost Nike about $16 to produce, giving Nike a gross profit of $164 a pair, or about 90 per cent, before marketing expenses. Shareholders have done well, as the stock price has increased over one hundred times in the last 25 years—in contrast, the Dow Jones average has gone up a factor of seven in that period.

The workers in Indonesia who make Nike shoes haven’t done nearly as well: they earn $4 a day—not enough to provide food, shelter, transportation, and health care. And they can only dream of someday being able to buy a pair of Nikes for themselves.

Nike could easily afford to pay a living wage—labor costs account for only $2.50 a pair. (more…)

Update: Foxconn, maker of iPhones and iPads, announces big pay raise

February 18, 2012

 

Foxconn Technology, maker of iPhones, iPads, and countless other consumer electronics goods, announced Saturday an immediate pay raise of 16%-25%, to about $400 a month,  for the lowest paid workers in its Chinese plants.

At Apple’s request the industry-sponsored Fair Labor Association has started an audit of its suppliers’ factories in China. The pay raise won’t affect the audit, but it’s nevertheless good news for the workers who build Apple’s products as well as reassurance for the people who buy them. (Like me.)

 

Is it ethical to buy an iPhone or iPad made in a Chinese sweatshop?

February 14, 2012

 

My amazing iPhone 3GS was made in Foxconn’s huge factory in Shenzen, China, where workers toil long hours under unhealthy and downright dangerous conditions, put in forced, unpaid overtime, sleep in crowded dormitories, and—occasionally, commit suicide.

Now I’m ready to upgrade to the newest iPhone 4S, with Siri, the personal assistant with attitude. But can I give Apple more business with a clear conscience?

The outsourcing of millions of jobs to low cost countries has eliminated the American consumer electronics industry. Virtually all desktop and laptop computers are made in Asia, along with nearly all mobile phones, TV sets, and radios. Americans have gone on to other jobs, but many have never found employment as good as they had in manufacturing.

The cost to Americans is arguably far outweighed by the benefits of a dizzying variety of goods that are far, far more affordable than they were years ago. But do our benefits come at the cost of exploiting workers in China, for example?

If we look at the working conditions at Foxconn we’re tempted to say yes. And many people have taken what they consider a principled stand against buying Apple products, or indeed, any products made under sub-standard—by American standards—conditions.

But the Foxconn workers aren’t slaves—they flock to Shenzen (more…)


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