Apple and Ethics

In the article Tim Cook Calls Assault on Apple’s Ethics in China “Patently False and Offensive,”  former Apple executives are cited as commenting that Apple has known about labor abuse issues for four years and nothing has been done to stop it because it works for Apple and that this problem with suppliers is pretty much being overlooked (Dilger, 2002). The article also includes an email that Tim Cook sent out to employees in Apple’s defense. And I must say that I do not agree with his arguments that defend the company’s ethical communications because his argument does not include aspects of business ethics such as demonstrating accountability.


Tim Cook believes that ethical leadership in a nutshell means “leaving things better than you found them,” such as being socially responsible by being environmentally conscious and the way employees are treated (DUTFSOB, 2013). I found his thoughts on what being an ethical leader is very vague, much like his argument in response to former executive comments.  The main reason is because I thought his response did not demonstrate accountability. Cardon (2016) describes demonstrating accountability as meeting the needs and wants of others and being conscious of the affect business choices have on stakeholders. To me, it also means when confronted with an ethical challenge one is honest, upfront and gives an account for actions without excuse.


For one example, Apple’s former executives say that problems with suppliers have been overlooked for years and Cook responds that “Earlier this month we opened our supply chain for independent evaluations by the Fair Labor Association,” (Dilger, 2002, para.7). This causes me to think that if this problem has been going on for years why hasn’t this problem been confronted years ago instead of in a recent month? The lack of accountability comes in by not explaining why Apple did not take this action years ago when the problem first presented itself. It seems as though Apple is only taking action because the whistle has been blown. This is not “leaving things better than you found them,” this is more like cleaning up a mess only after others are aware of the mess made.




Cardon, P.W (2016) Business communications: Developing leaders for a networked world. (2nd ed). New York, NY:McGrawl-Hill

Dilger, D., D (2012, January 26)Tim Cook calls assault on Apple’s in China “Patently False and Offensive” from.

Duke University – The Fuqua School of Business [DUTFSOB] [screen name] (2013, May 30) Apple CEO Tim Cook on Ethical Leadership. [Video file] Retrieved from




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