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Ethical Issues in Human Resources

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Company Profile – APPLE INC.

Apple Inc. is a technological company based in California, United States of America. It is most known for its iPhones, iPads, Apple TV, iPods & Mac products. Founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak & Ronald Wayne today serves globally & has 500 retail stores as of 2018. It is the world’s largest IT company & the world’s 2nd largest smartphone manufacturer. It also has well known subsidiaries like Shazam.

The name “Apple” was inspired by Steve Jobs visit to an apple farm where he thought the name “Apple” was fun, spirited & not intimidating. Apple was one of the very successful companies of the 1970s & has made its way to the Fortune 500 at the 3rd position. It developed its own operating system for its devices, MacOS for the personal computers, the iOS for the iPhones, iPads & iPod touch, watchOS for the Apple watch & tvOS for the Apple TV.

Ethical Issues in Human Resources:

What is Human Resources Management?

Human Resources Management is defined as the process of hiring employees that will, with development, become more valuable to a company. The process of HRM includes recruiting the right people for a position, providing them with orientations & training, managing the salaries & benefits along with evaluation the personnel performance & ensuring clear communication with all employees.

Ethical Issues:

  • Sexual & Race Discrimination & Harassment:
  • Apple headquarters in California have faced lawsuits from numerous female employees claiming that the sexual harassment & jokes has gone on far too long. Women represent around a 3rd of the workforce at Apple & numerous women have made allegations of a hostile work environment with the fear of retaliation if they do take some action against their co-workers. Additionally, women have alleged that they have trouble growing in the company regardless of the amount of experience they hold due to the majorly dominated male organization that are given top level positions.

  • The right to privacy:
  • After Facebook being under fire about the violations of the right to privacy of its consumers, all companies including Apple updated their privacy policies. In the past, a hacker group known as The Turkish Crime Family claimed access to around 250 million iCloud accounts, threatening to reset the passwords & wipe their devices if a ransom (in bitcoin) isn’t paid.

  • Safe Working conditions:
  • In the annual audit of 2017, Apple outlines the working conditions of the workers making its products. It was discovered that there are 44 “core violations” of the labor rules, twice the amount of violations in 2016. Serious violations include the falsifying the work hours data. Employees were forced to pay extra money just to get a job. In a case, more than 700 foreign workers recruited from Philippines were charged to work for a supplier, Apple later forced the supplier to pay back the money.

  • Patency problems:
  • Apple has had several lawsuits filed against its largest competitor, Samsung. In 2011, Apple filed a lawsuit claiming Samsung’s phones & tablets infringed on their intellectual property: style, patents, trademarks & user interface to which in 2012, the jury ruled in favour of Apple, awarding Apple $1.049 billion in damages. With appeals, Apple has officially lost $120 million in damages received from Samsung.

  • Labor & human rights:
  • Apple’s major supplier, Foxconn, is the world’s largest electronic manufacturer. It manufactures iPhones & iPads for Apple & also employs over 900,000 workers. 240,000 of these workers are working in the plant. In 2010, several media outlets reported several cases of suicides at Foxconn. 13 workers had committed suicide from 2009 to 2010. With investigation it was found that the internal management at Foxconn was poorly managed, with military style management where workers weren’t allowed interaction between each other & they worked for over 70 hours a week (which is 10 hours above the Apple’s supplier code).

Additionally, it was reported that the child labour issues at the computer, iPods & iPhones suppliers had worsened in 2011 revealing 91 children working at the suppliers.

Solutions to the HR related ethical issues:

Sexual/ Racial Discrimination and Harassment:

To stop such misconduct, Apple can take these 3 practical steps:

i. Tone from the Top- To take a lead on the stoppage of such harassment reports, Apple needs to have its say on all the employees directly from the top, i.e. the CEO. CEO has the biggest impact than anyone else in the company and no one else can make it as clear to the workforce about the seriousness of this ethical issue and that any kind of racial or sexual judgement will be taken lightly than him/ her. Effective establishment, enforcement and encouragement of the rules must be implemented. The HR can’t solely do anything unless it comes from the top.

ii. Establish the procedure into everyone’s performance evaluations- Build a 0 tolerance harassment-related policy into every manager’s performance objectives. Make it as strict as possible where the workers know that one mistake will Make them regret. One strike & you’re out. Zero room for mistakes has a way of getting people’s attention. & also, for the record, sexual pestering is not always a mans fault, (women are also reported to have sexually harassed men) & women can also faultily accuse men, & every allegation should be considerately examined.

Establish Reporting Programs- So many racial/sexual harassment issues go un-noticed because no one knows where to report the problem or are inflicted with the fear of ridiculed. There’s only one solutions to this, to provide a universally known and accessible & safe place to report it. It can be in the form of a website, a hotline or even a unit in the organisation. If the process is dealt with fairness & integrity its good to go.

The Right to Privacy:

Apple has the ability of tracing any reported lost device as it has a database of their serial numbers & an internal kill switch being maintained by the company for all devices. This switch can shut down & erases any application in the user s phone if it is being used maliciously. As 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. 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 & have data on consumption per country. By use of the GIS, mapping & tracing of lost iPhones can be made possible by apple. There might be existing services for tracking & recovery of iPhones but this whole course can be more efficient if apple was in charge.

A theft monitoring system would cost the company a large budget as more than a 100 million iPhone 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 & the serial numbers of their iPhones it would be easy to get information to displease our privacy.

Apple has a moral obligation to give back to the societies that enable it to prosper & grow. The tracking system can be viewed as a social responsibility for the company. “With its size & revenues, it is argued that power comes with a responsibility” (Grow& Hamm, 2005). During decision making process every organization should consider the social & economic consequences of the business decision. As there is no direct easy answer to as to what’s the solution in such situations the management should take a deeper consider 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.

Safe Working Conditions:

Apple must ensure safe and secure working conditions not just in the Apple head quarters but in the second party and third-party agencies too. Ethical officers should be appointed to regularly check on the conditions and report to the authorities.

Happier employees make more productive employees- Unless an employee engages in his job with heart and soul he can’t prosper.

Comply with the safety regulations- Legally all organisations are obliged to follow some rules and regulations on behalf of employees, heath insurance, life insurances can be promised for their utmost safety.

Create a staff policy- Regardless of whatever position an employee is, a code of conduct should be applied to all.

Procedural Justice- If the leaders are seen making fair decisions, workers also tend to follow the same pattern of instructions without the fear of being mistreated. The CEO should make it aware for everyone that no malpractices would be tolerated.

Labour and Human Rights:

Suppliers should not request the employees to undergo a forced medical for elimination for recruitment, job projects, termination of employment and training except where it is required by the law. Suppliers should ensure the harassment free environment too, by employing

Apple should also ensure that third party labor agencies also adhere to the rules. They must guarantee that for any contractual employment, all terms and conditions are explained in brief to the employees. 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. Working hours per week also should be restricted to only 60 hours including overtime with at least a day off in a week. Apple found itself in a guilty situation after an audit revealed that workers worked for more than 60 hours a week. The minimum wage rate policy should also be recognized, and all the workers should be given equal right.

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