Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Apple and Being Perfectly Ethical


Recently a company perceived as having a pristine image, Apple computers, has suffered from issues related to the work practices at the Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China. These factories have recently had high suicide rates as a result of the individuals working in the factories feeling overworked and suffering from poor working conditions. On Monday, February 13, 2012 an article was released stating that the Fair Labor Association would be investigating the working conditions of the Chinese factories. Now many would see this as the appropriate action taken but I would question this. The question that should be asked is why was this course of action not taken prior to the allegations of poor working conditions and increase in suicides?

An issue such as the Apple/Foxconn problem exposes the issues within corporations today. Within our world today even a business such as Apple can not control all of the variables involved in order to be a perfectly ethical business. Is there such a thing as a perfectly ethical and moral business? Can we strive for perfection or is this simply unattainable? With all of the resources available to a company such as Apple you would think that they would investigate the working conditions of their factories prior to doing business within them. The issue today is not individuals striving to be evil, maniacal business people but our constant need to want. Consumers today more then ever are constantly wanting the newest and greatest products, be it a cell phone, article of clothing or tablet computer. With all of the consumers wants we have begun to far surpass the outputs we can achieve. Because of this our wants are being achieved while making those that produce for us to suffer. This is true amongst any industry and has become the standard as increasing work hours has become a norm. It is not unethical practice but just evolution. Like neanderthals evolving into homosapien's our consumer behaviour has adapted and our workplaces have done so also. So to answer whether or not perfection is possible is simple. No, it is not because as we adapt as individuals so do corporations and so does business. We will never be able to attain perfection and Apple this week has proved so. The best we can do is work to strive to be as accountable as we can be for our actions and do our best to prevent incidents such as the Foxconn issue from happening. We must all work together from the consumer standpoint as well as businesspeople moving forward. I believe that if we do so we will make business as socially responsible that we can make it be.

Luke Riel

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