Axel Springer is said to be the largest digital publishing house in Europe being active in more than 40 countries worldwide (Axelspringer.com, 2019). After 2009 the company saw an increase in revenues and transitioned from newspapers to an international media company. But who knew that the minerals for the production of these electronic devices were causing abuse of human rights as well as issuing of illegal weapons in Congo. Therefore, In this essay, I will be focusing primarily on my arguments for why I would take action against the conflict minerals as the CEO of the company. The context of this essay is going to step by step lay down firstly my arguments, supported by the individual and organizational theories. Next, I am going to illustrate actions that I would recommend to tackle this situation and discuss how it can be carried out. Lastly, I am going to talk about my own personal reflection based on what I have learned about myself throughout the module. I am going to end my essay with a brief conclusion by summarizing my main points of discussion.
To begin with my first argument, As the CEO of Alex springer, I want to do something about the conflicting minerals and remove them from the supply chain as it will bring transparency in the supply chain, attract more customers and my company would gain more profit. Due to the fact that if the companies that use the conflicting minerals to make their electronic devices get caught then there is a chance of Alex springer to be accused as well because of our companies digital expansion as it relies on the use of electronic devices. Hence, this can highly affect the profit of my company. As mentioned in Carroll’s pyramid as the base, the first responsibility of a company is to function properly and stay in business which Alex springer would carry on only by taking an action (Carroll, 1991). This was made evident as stated by Crane and Matten that in 2008/9 that large banks faced failure due to economic irresponsibility. (Crane and Matten, 2010).Therefore, I want to take action from now so my company does not face any problems later. I also believe that the customers who pay for the electronic devices should be aware of what is used to make their devices and where the money is going to. So, removing the conflict minerals from the supply chain would also be the legal responsibility of the company as many companies use conflicting minerals as they are cheaper and that is beneficial for the companies but against the laws, as it contributes to the abuse of human rights in Congo. Furthermore, the ethical responsibility of the company, that is the obligation to do what is right and fair is also contributed to by solving the problem of conflicting minerals as it will stop the money going to the armed forces or criminal gangs which they use for all sorts of illegal acts. The philanthropic responsibility of the company is the least important according to Carroll’s pyramid, which is a responsibility desired by society without being required. It is based on being a good corporate citizen, and I believe that my company has previously always shown commitment to corporate responsibility in line with its position and will further do it by taking actions against the conflict minerals as well.
Alex Springer has a lot of power on The company Apple therefore by working along with them we can provide transparency in the supply chain of the devices to the consumers for them to make well-informed decisions. As Danny mentioned in his article that people are ignorant and they would never go and do their own research about topics like whether child labor was used for making their device but a study found how if the product’s ethical information is right in front of them they will consider the information in their decision making (Harvard Business Review, 2016). Also discussed by Matten, how companies being socially responsible may be rewarded with more satisfied customers whereas the ones who don’t may be boycotted (Crane and Matten, 2010). This decision of mine explains why I am an egoist, as by taking this action the outcome of this will benefit me the most, hence, following the theory that an action is said to be morally right if the decision-maker freely decides in order to pursue either their short-term desires or their long term interests (Crane and Matten, 2010). Providing the supply chain to the consumers would result in an advantage for them for making better decisions but highly for me as I am going to work for my self-interest and gain profit this way. whereas The company apple itself is going to face problems and lose money because firstly, they will have to spend a lot of money in investigating their supply chain for the minerals and also now using the free minerals instead for the production is going to cost the company a lot more money as the conflict-free minerals are cheaper.
Moving forward, my second argument for taking an action against this issue is to set a reasonable ethical bar for the industry to achieve because I want to be a transformational leader and have a set of effective followers for my company. As, Yong and Gerald mentioned in their work how about 80% of the companies have admitted that they are not able to determine where the raw material for production is coming from, whether it is from the conflict mines or not (Harvard Business Review, 2019). Therefore, by taking an action we are making other companies become aware and investigate their own supply chains and remove the conflict minerals as it’s money contributing to crime and unethical behavior.Burns gave an example of transformational leadership by saying that it was practiced by those political leaders who “engaged their followers not only to achieve something of significance but also to morally uplift them” (Burns, 1978), which clearly explains the reason behind my action. I want to become a type of a leader who builds commitments to the organization’s objectives and empowers followers to achieve these objectives (Gary, 2013). This would mean I will become an excellent leader for my company in reaching its goals but also I will be able to attract a group of effective followers who will support me and contribute to the company’s success, take on responsibilities and most importantly for the problem of conflict minerals they will take a moral stand with me to prevent this unethical practice. This together will help me in setting a reasonable ethical bar for the industry to achieve as Alex Springer is a big company, well known globally, them taking an action on a topic would inspire other companies in the industry to do something about the problem of conflict minerals as well. As also argued by Zane that more companies need to commit to specific ethical actions publicly and also solve the issues of unethical behavior “ For example, Intel announced at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show that all of its processors manufactured that year would use conflict-free materials. It has highlighted the issue at each subsequent CES as well”, therefore the more the companies make such statements they contribute more to the encouragement for other companies to investigate their own supply chains before problems are exposed (Zane, Irwin and Reczek, 2016). As written by Garry, “The essence of transformational leadership appears to be inspiring, developing, and empowering followers””,(Gary, 2013) which are also a part of the four components of transformational leadership; Idealised influence, Inspirational motivation, Intellectual stimulation, and Individualised consideration. Altogether these four parts together contribute to empowering the followers and making them “less dependent on the leader, such as delegating significant authority to individuals or teams, developing follower skills and self‐confidence, providing direct access to sensitive information, eliminating unnecessary controls, and building a strong culture to support empowerment””,(Gary, 2013). Furthermore, research was carried out on whether transformational leadership has an impact on employees motivation and the correlation results indicated that there is a significant positive relationship between transformational leadership and employee motivation. (Ahmad et al., 2014).
Thirdly, My argument is that I want to improve the living standards of being in Congo, stop the money from going to abuse of human rights. The reason is that firstly, the conditions there, for example, child labor, deaths, rape, and abuse is against the ethics of rights, which defines natural rights as “basic, important, unalienable entitlements that should be respected and protected in every single action” (Crane and Matten, 2010). Hence, These exploitations of human rights make this issue have a high moral intensity, which means that the nature of the ethical issue is of high importance to me as a decision maker to carry actions against the issue of conflict minerals. As stated by Matten, throughout history the rights approach has proved to be very powerful and has largely shaped the structure of many modern states (Crane and Matten, 2010). Even though a company like Apple does say that they do take care of human right (Zane, Irwin and Reczek, 2016) But the children working under intense conditions in Congo for the minerals to be used for the production of the devices that we use are not reached or given any sorts of rights that they deserve which are education and a safe environment. This was also proved when a report recently, by Amnesty International discovered “a number of cases of child labor among suppliers linked to major technology companies, including Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft” (Zane, Irwin and Reczek, 2016). Moreover”,People in Congo describe the conditions as them working 24 hours a day and also not given their right of being paid a living wage to provide for their family leading to women and children from the family also working under extreme conditions, a lot of thefts and rapes, children dying of malnutrition and working in unsafe mines for earning a living (Heath, 2014). These conditions are the reasons why this issue has a high moral intensity as the expected result of the problem is significant like deaths and severe health problems, this act of abuse of human rights in Congo will be deemed unethical by others as well, the probability of effect is very high as it is already happening from the past years. Moreover, the speed at which the consequences are likely to occur includes both short term and long term effects on the people there. Matten also reveals that ”Corporations especially multinationals are increasingly judged with regard to their attitude to human rights and how they respect and protect them” (Crane and Matten, 2010) which is what I as the CEO of Alex Springer want to do. The theory of ethical rights along with moral intensity is chosen as the “theories based on rights are very powerful because of their widely acknowledged basis in fundamental human entitlements” (Crane and Matten, 2010).
To begin with my recommended actions that I would suggest should be taken for the conflicting minerals as the CEO is Firstly, remove the conflicting minerals before they get near the factories where electronic devices are being manufactured because the minerals that are dug by the armed and criminal groups in Congo directly are of no use to anyone, Therefore, they are first taken to smelters where these minerals are processed and turned into metals which are then used to make the devices. The reason that there is a possibility of removing these minerals from the smelters as mentioned by the ‘enough’ website, there are a total of 324 smelters for these four conflicting minerals in the world which gives us an idea of the number all around the world is not extremely high and can be investigated. Also, there is research online showing for example that Malaysia is the world’s 3rd largest tin smelter (Globalpolicy.org, 2010) so by starting with countries with the biggest smelters we can slowly use this action all around the world by working together for a good cause. The action of removing the conflicting minerals can be carried out by monitoring the conflicting minerals in the smelters because as long as we know where the minerals are coming from it is possible to not let the criminals gain any profit from providing the minerals. This can be done by identifying the fingerprints of all the different mines for these conflict minerals around the world as well as identifying mines of origin by examining samples of the ore. Fingerprints are there for all mineral deposits which are actually the ratios of the minor and trace elements that are found in them. When we have the database of all the fingerprints we can easily tell which mine a mineral has come from and simply every delivery that comes for the smelters can be investigated to know the purity of the ore. therefore, all we would need to do is a check of the test results against our fingerprint database and we can reject those that come from known conflict mines. Furthermore, any new mine opened will be asked to get their material registered on the database as well. This solution might look complex but it is going to be very inexpensive and reliable as section 1502 about conflicting minerals from the Dodd-Frank wall street reform also showed that around 78 percent of the smelters around the world have passed independent third-party audits by the Responsible Minerals Assurance Process. This shows that the smelters are already working against the conflicting minerals and will be working hand in hand with us to completely remove them from their smelters (The Enough Project, 2017). Previously the Electronics industry citizenship coalition (EICC) had also decided to carry out a similar idea where they collaborated with others to launch a conflict-free smelter program to improve the social and efficiency responsibility in the global supply chain which they first carried out for tantalum but because it was seen successful they expanded for other minerals too. (Gesi.org, 2011)
My second recommended action is to create an alternative livelihood for the people in Congo. As we are aware that the conditions for the people in Congo are severe and dangerous to the extent that daily deaths and rapes take place. Children, men, and women all work in mines in dangerous conditions under the scorching sun to be able to afford the daily necessities of life. A Danish filmmaker director Frank, in his documentary called, “blood in the mobile”, showed actual footage of children working in the mines to dig out the minerals in Congo that are used in the production of our mobile phones and other electronic devices. This makes me think that creating an alternative livelihood using international investments for the people along with private investments in other fields in Congo can help in improving the conditions of people there. Private investment can be helpful if a tracing mechanism is in place and the right standards are observed. Larger companies around the world can help raise miners living standards if independently verifiable mechanisms are used properly to make sure that the corporation is not in any way contributing to the armed groups or criminal gangs. Separate audits are performed for mines and financial statements are traced regularly to make sure no profits are going to them can be ways to carry out this task. Appropriate standards, for example, health, safety, and labor standards should be strictly imposed at mining sites by working along with the mining owners so there are fewer chances of any accidents or deaths. It will be more beneficial if education initiatives for miners are also taken place following the actions mentioned above. Furthermore, more opportunities should be made available to the people in except mining, therefore, International investments should work on the agricultural development initiatives in close partnership with miners themselves in eastern Congo which has been taken over by mining in recent years. This can be carried out by looking at the good models for agricultural investments in mining areas.
One of the main reasons that I want to work for the issue of conflict minerals comes from my personal characteristics and beliefs. I believe that I want to do something for the issue of conflict minerals as it is a matter of rights and justice for the people in Congo. I have always been a person standing firm for the rights of human beings no matter what the situation is. The Leaders self-insight test that I took in which I scored a four out of five in the listening test showed that I am someone who is extremely attentive to what others are saying and value their thoughts. This quality of mine has always helped me become an excellent team player as I listen and consider others opinions while working with them, it has also helped me build positive relationships and in self-development. I can use these traits while working together with people and companies to take action against the issue. I belong to Pakistan, which is an Asian country and child labor is a very common practice there. Young children are forced to work in factories, as servants at homes and in fields due to their family conditions. This is one of the very strong reasons why I am very sensitive about this topic as I believe at this age the children deserve to get a good education. What motivated me further is that since I moved to the UK I saw how children were offered free education till they graduated high school and they were not treated differently accordingly to their status or wealth which I really appreciate. Moreover”,After doing the personality test by Jung Typology, I found out that I fit in the ‘ENTJ’, which includes people who “take charge, are hearty speakers, natural leaders” as well as also from the instrumental and end values test I concluded that I am an ambitious, responsible and courageous human being who believes in equality, a comfortable life and a world at peace for everyone. These qualities lead me to want to take actions for the conflict mineral issue and I believe that with my confidence and bravery I can accomplish my aim by fighting against all odds. Furthermore, From this module, I have learned that I am an ethical leader, which is someone who does the right thing the right way and for the right reason. I would like to utilize my qualities and experiences in becoming a responsible leader.
In conclusion, the above arguments show the reasons why I want to take actions against the conflict minerals and improving the living conditions of people in Congo. I believe that according to the individual and organizational theories I have mentioned above with my arguments help in understanding the motivation behind my decisions. As it is a very large and serious issue because it deals with abuse of human rights and crime, taking an action will definitely not be an easy step but if we start making changes like investigating our supply chains and rejecting the minerals coming from the conflict mines we can stop the money from going illegal practices. Moreover, companies coming together and investing in Congo by making an alternative livelihood, job opportunities and educating the people are more steps that can be taken to solve the issue. Lastly, from my own personality and characteristics, I believe I have a very strong and confident mindset to work against the issue of conflict minerals because I believe it is for their right mainly being the reason that I feel very sympathetic towards the people suffering in Congo due to us paying and contributing to their conditions