Kobe steel was Japan’s third-largest steelmaker and a major supplier of aluminium to manufacturers of cars, trains, and planes across the world. It admitted having supplied products containing falsified specifications to over five hundred customers (Shane, 2017). This revelation impacted the global supply chain giant; the customers began questioning the ethical standards of the company. Further investigations into the matter by an independent investigator established more cases of impropriety, bringing the total affected customers to 605, including over 200 overseas clients.
By manipulating product quality specifications, Kobe Steel violated the antitrust law. Moreover, by admitting that over 40 employees colluded in the data fabrication process, the company was guilty as charged. Indeed, the court’s decision to fine Kobe Steel 898,000 U.S. dollars after it found the company guilty of falsifying product specification data was justified (Shane, 2017). Kobe Steel should put in place measures such as being strict on matters related to compliance to prevent such incident from occurring in the future. Upon completion of the investigations, the company should fire employees found guilty of collusion to restore trust to its customers.
Regardless of the company or the industry in which it operates, good codes of ethics share certain features. A code of ethics, also known as the professional code of conduct, outlines the ethical guidelines that regulate the behaviour and shape decision-making in an organization. It demonstrates how employees should behave or act under different circumstances. Moreover, a good code of ethics is defined by various features, such as respect, integrity, honour, customer focus, passion, risk-taking, and results-oriented (Payne & Landry, 2006). Mutual respect between a company and its customers is essential for growth, therefore entrepreneurs are required to build strong and healthy mutual relationships founded on respect with all the stakeholders. Honouring the contributions of the employees gives them the morale to even work hard and achieve more. Integrity involves showing strong moral values and honesty in everything that a person does. As such, companies should hire employees who are upright and retain only those who have no integrity issues. Those whose character is questionable should be done away with to avoid tarnishing the organization’s reputation.
Customer focus is another characteristic of a great code of ethics, and it is essential for market growth. Given that customers are the backbone of an organization, a focus on every aspect of the customer is important for a company seeking to increase market share. Customer focus reinforces the responsibility that a business has to its market. Companies also require employees to always be results-oriented, working towards achieving the organization’s goals while maintaining the values of the organization (Payne & Landry, 2006). It is the role of the managers and supervisors to identify the employees who are truly passionate about their work to retain them and to encourage them. Similarly, great organizations have innovative employees who are willing to explore new opportunities in order to find solutions for the underlying problems. Professionalism is also a component of a great code of ethics that requires employees to conduct themselves in a professional manner before customers and in the course of their duties.
The most obvious criterion to determine if a code of ethics is suitable is reviewing its level of compliance. A firm should determine whether or not the code of conduct conforms to the values of the company. The next criterion is to establish whether it promoted good or produced harm. A code of conduct is considered effective if the benefits that a company gains from practicing it outweigh the disadvantages (Koehler & Pemberton, 2000). The level of commitment and responsibility of employees towards safeguarding the code of ethics is also used to test its suitability. For example, checking whether or not employees act accordingly to protect the reputation of the company. Determining if the code of ethics protects and preserves individual and group rights is another criterion for measuring its suitability. An effective code of ethics outlines moral standards of behaviour that protects and respects basic human rights. Additionally, establishing if the code of conduct promotes an environment of trust is another suitability test. Finally, consider whether or not the code of conduct builds the reputation of the organization within the market.
One of the additional elements that should be included in a code of ethics for IT professionals is open and effective communication. When working on an IT project involving a team of programmers and IT professionals, different members are likely to have different opinions. Team leaders must possess effective communication skills in order to lead others. When there is effective communication, it is possible to generate as many valuable ideas as possible for solving problems. Communication breakdown has led to the collapse of many IT projects as some members consider their viewpoint more important than those of others (Payne & Landry, 2006). Effective communication allows the team members to focus on resolving issues and learning from previous mistakes. Respect for the community in which the business operates is another element that should be included in the code of ethics. Given that body corporates have a bigger role to play than before, society has expectations towards businesses in terms of protecting the environment and promoting the welfare of the community. For example, the community expects businesses to act in a responsible manner to avoid air and water pollution.
Intelligence agencies use white hat hacking, which is also known as ethical hacking. However, they do hacking with prior permission from the company, which sanitizes the process and makes it legal. The goal of white hat hacking is to perform penetration testing and vulnerability assessment of the company’s systems. Companies are under obligation to seek patent rights for any published code of ethics. Utilitarianism is a moral theory that supports actions that cause more pleasure and rejects those that cause harm (Schwartz, 2004). to reduce risks in utilitarian estimates, companies should promote behaviours that result in overall good and discourage those that cause harm. Legislative processes can be applied to reduce problems associated with utilitarianism through the enactment of laws that can help in solving ethical dilemmas.
I believe that the code of ethics for international businesses should be formalized and published to allow businesses to operate on level ground. Formalization of the code of ethics across the world would also ensure fairness in settling ethical-related disputes worldwide. The financial code of ethics should contain full, fair, and accurate disclosures of financial information. I think that there should be a universal code of ethics for financial professionals to promote honesty and discourage wrongdoing. Similarly, IT professionals should have a universal code of ethics to help them conduct business in an ethical manner (Payne & Landry, 2006). Project management guidelines should be included in the IT code of ethics to allow for effective management of project team members. Having a universal code of ethics that applies to all IT professionals across the world would be ideal, given the integration of the modern world.
Koehler, W. C., & Pemberton, J. M. (2000). A search for core values: Towards a model code of ethics for information professionals. Journal of Information Ethics, 9(1), 26.
Payne, D., & Landry, B. J. (2006). A uniform code of ethics: Business and IT professional ethics. Communications of the ACM, 49(11), 81-84.
Schwartz, M. S. (2004). Effective corporate codes of ethics: Perceptions of code users. Journal of business ethics, 55(4), 321-341.
Shane, D. (2017). The Kobe Steel scandal: What we know so far. Retrieved from https://www.wral.com/the-kobe-steel-scandal-what-we-know-so-far/17019927/