When in Malaysia
W.B. Milestone, Inc., a manufacturer of sophisticated computer parts, recently moved the operations of one of its divisions to Malaysia. The Company has hired several hundred workers at wages considerably below their U.S. counterparts, but consistent with the prevailing wages in Malaysia. Not only is the Company benefitting from the lower wages, it is also able to reduce its costs further because of the deplorable factories used for its operations (no air conditioning and poor ventilation), it can dispose of waste without any government oversight, and government inspectors are routinely given gratuities for favorable inspection reports or to otherwise grease the skids for the Company. The Company’s operations are in all key respects in accordance with the laws of Malaysia. You were recently hired as a senior vice-president in charge of the Malaysian operations and you are concerned about what you have seen and heard as to how the plants are being operated. When you called a colleague in the states, he said to you “keep your mouth shut and when in Rome do as the Romans do”. What are some of the ethical issues you should consider in charting your course of action and how would you resolve them?
RYAN – I would feel a social responsibility to assist the employees of the manufacturer of the products of my company. The deplorable conditions in which they work in would violate my personal ethics I have when running a business operation. The conditions in which they work would be my number one priority to resolve. I would come up with a well-organized business plan and strategy that would outline how better working conditions in the factory would improve production and profits in the long term and present that to my boss. The strategy would also lower the risk of the public eye finding out about how our products are made and the conditions of the factory, which could harm the integrity and reputation of the company tremendously. A strategy that leads to more profits and higher production would be beneficial to both parties with the deplorable conditions being improved and worker safety resolved.
PATRICIA – The ethical issue I would be facing are the contradictory type laws that Malaysia and United States have. According to OSHA, there are standard rules to which protect the workers from working in a hazardous environment in the workplace (SHRM, N.A). Having low wages and working under horrible and hazardous conditions is exploitative. The fact that there is no air conditioning and poor ventilation in a country where the weather is tropical and is very humid, can be very hazardous to the workers. The ethical dilemma is that workers are being treated as expendable and their safety is not being cared for. I would consider working on providing better working conditions for the workers. In the event this information is published by the media, consumers could boycott or chose to purchase somewhere else. This treatment could also be flagged by United Nations, which strives to protect human rights. I think providing the workers a better safe environment will help resolve a major ethical dilemma. Although its not the only thing that can be resolved, this would be my first step in the right direction.
SHRM. (N,A). What are the OSHA standards? SHRM.org. https://www.shrm.org/
LEHEM – After reading the scenario, there are a few red flags that come to mind. There is fraud in paying off inspectors, the conditions of employees working area, and one of the biggest ones to me is being told to keep my mouth shut when seeing something wrong. Just because the company may not be getting caught does not mean the right thing is being done ethically. If it becomes known of the way employee’s are treated abroad by this company a lot of backlash can and will occur. The company brand and employee’s at the top will be in scrutiny by the public as well, is it worth the risk? Should I keep my mouth shut knowing the consequences in the long run will be bad, acting unethically and knowing people are being treated so badly will that sit well with me? Using Kant theory and the questions to ask are answered in favor of not being ethically correct I would have to say something or quit. There is a profit coming in for the business but at what cost?
There may be a difference in culture, but be able to treat others fairly is a moral value. When paying off authority this is also not behavior that a company/people should take part off. There is reason behind paying off others, what is it the company is trying to hide and why. “Professionals engage in unethical behavior primarily as a result of their own personal ethical values, the corporate culture within a company, or from unrealistic performance expectations,” (GBE,2021). In the article of Global Business Ethics it talks about the use of child labor and even though it is not legal it is still being done in other country’s and there is no real stop to it. When companies sale their product it does not state that which in turn gives buyers to clue who and under what circumstances the product was made in.
Global business ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved March 08, 2021, from https://saylordotorg.