Ethical issues in business create many problems that can extend negative effects on its reputation, productivity, and profitability. Companies are forced to bear responsibilities when their leaders or employees engage in unethical practices. They offer a reflection of the organization’s beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, and language that defines its culture. Organizations must establish effective measures to prevent ethical issues among employers and avoid facing legal actions. Every individual should strive to attain effective personal ethics such as honesty, loyalty, and integrity, which can be applied to promote professional codes of conduct (Ruggiero, 2014). This paper intends to explore ethical issues affecting Samsung Company, evaluate its professional codes of conduct, and use personal ethical philosophy to analyze and suggest solutions to the problem.
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Samsung Company has been accused of bribery resulting in the impeachment of Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s president. The Samsung heir by the name of Lee Jae Yong was the first most prominent tycoon to face bribery charges in the country. The indictment came after a comprehensive investigation that took 90 days on the corruption scandal (Sang-Hun, 2017). This incident took place in early 2017, and the issue influenced huge crowds to demonstrate on the street demanding for the toppling of the corporate titans and Mr. Lee.
The head was arrested on February 17, 2017, in an incident considered a dramatic development as the country struggled to eliminate collusive ties between the family-controlled conglomerates dominating the economy and government (Sang-Hun, 2017). The investigation also linked four senior executives with criminal charges where they were forced to resign together with Mr. Lee. The indictments were considered a threat to the family business and control of political issues. This was an indication that the country is determined to break the corruption ties, particularly eliminating the traditional leniency of wealthy individuals when tycoons are involved in white-collar crimes.
The criminal investigation revealed that Mr. Lee promised or gave Choi Soon-sil, who was Ms. Park’ secretive confidante, bribes amounting to $38 million. The Samsung heir was to gain through political favors, with the most significant one being government influence for a merger of affiliates that took place in 2015 (Sang-Hun, 2017). Support from the government enabled Mr. Lee to inherit and gain corporate control from Lee Kun-hee, his incapacitated father.
Mr. Lee was also expected to answer charges related to committing perjury since he denied bribing Ms. Park or Ms. Choi in a parliamentary hearing. He insisted that the submitted money was meant for a donation implying that Samsung was extorted. Mr. Lee took over the family business in 2014 after his father suffered a heart attack (Sang-Hun, 2017). The company has been implicated with other bribery cases though these were the first charges. His father had been convicted twice for tax evasion and bribery, but the president pardoned him, stating that his company generates the highest percentage of the GDP.
The company has for many years been considered a symbol of wealth and power in South Korea, which has turned to be one of the largest technological powerhouses in the world. Samsung Electronics contributes as high as 20% of the total exports in the country, implying that the company is a pillar to the economy (Sang-Hun, 2017). Its market capitalization takes one-fourth of the overall value of listed companies.
Professional Codes of Conduct
Samsung Electronics has a well-established business code of conduct, which promotes responsible and accountable business practices. The company indicates that it complies with local laws on all government-associated activities. It also prohibits any act of improperly influencing the officials of the government. It ensures transparency, accuracy, honesty, and ethical behaviors when seeking contracts from government-owned businesses and entities. Every employee must adhere to the provided guidelines when acting on behalf of the company in case of any dealings with the government (Ruggiero, 2014). Moreover, the company encourages the public to report immediately any worker violating its policies to the leadership for the necessary corrective measures.
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Based on the provided facts regarding the bribery accusation, it is evident that Samsung has violated its codes of ethics. The company policies show that it is committed to ensuring transparency when dealing with government officials, but its leader, who is expected to be a role model, has engaged in bribery acts (Pasca & Riman, 2021). He violated the codes on honesty and accountability by improperly influencing government officials. The action shows that the company is not following its professional codes of ethics. Failure to follow the law has seen him face criminal trials and conviction.
Personal Ethical Philosophy
I have several personal ethics that guides my behaviors and perception towards the world. They include honesty, loyalty, responsibility, selflessness, integrity, and respect. Being honest makes me reliable and truthful in every aspect of my life. My loyalty makes it possible for me to show fidelity and trustworthiness in all my actions and help support loyal behaviors. As noted in the utilitarian theory, I like engaging in activities that bring maximum benefits and to the majority of people (Patil et al., 2021). This helps me avoid engaging in unethical acts such as corruption, bribery, and fraud. Utilitarianism theory helps me look at every situation based on its outcome to determine whether it is right or wrong. The consequentialism concept encourages me to think about the future and evaluate whether a certain action will bring benefits or cause problems. I am committed to promoting moral principles and sound relationships since they support trustworthiness. This means that I am accountable, transparent, responsible, reliable, and always determined to do what is right.
The Information Technology (IT) class has nurtured my system of ethics, making it possible to understand the importance of morals and behaving in a manner that promotes social cohesion. Learning and embracing ethics has supported my plan of becoming an IT project manager after completing my course at the DeVry University. It will improve my ability to follow guidance when handling projects on IT. Before taking the class, I had weak ethics since I could not understand the importance of behaving appropriately and being concerned about the wellbeing of others. However, I have learned that what I do and how I perceive others has an impact on how I related and interact with everyone in society (Ruggiero, 2014). The course has inspired me to do what is right and avoid engaging in unethical issues since I can now understand the need to be honest or responsible for my actions.
My system of ethics shows that Samsung Company engaged in undesirable practices resulting in criminal charges. Mr. Lee was expected to be honest, loyal, respectful, responsible, and trustworthy. However, he failed to meet his ethical obligation by interfering with government activities and public interest. As a leader of a multinational company, he should have been a role model and offer guidance for other employees to follow (Kwak, 2017). This case shows that engaging in unethical practices can cause a devastating impact, including legal action and subsequent massive losses. Having to serve three years in prison was the most distressing moment for someone whose business was determining the economy of the country (Ruggiero, 2014). On the contrary, my system of ethics has shown that embracing desirable behaviors can be rewarding and facilitate development.
Corruption and bribery are two unethical issues that the company has to address to realize success. These issues are unacceptable in society, and it is necessary to ensure that they are eliminated to avoid affecting the company’s reputation and image (Pasca & Riman, 2021). The noted issues are problematic because they came with many negative implications affecting the company’s ability to generate revenue and remain relevant in the market. The company must make an effort to establish an effective corrective action, ensuring that similar incidences will not reoccur in the future. This can become possible by ensuring that everyone is respecting and adhering to the company policies and codes of conduct (Robinson et al., 2020). All the employees, regardless of their position, should be guided by the established company rules. This can help save the company and ensure that it does not conflict with the law.
Resolution and Conclusion
Samsung Company faced a huge blow after its heir engaged in bribery acts in 2017 and faced criminal charges. The Company needs to learn from its mistakes and develop better professional codes of conduct that guide everyone’s actions. It should establish effective measures to hinder its leaders from engaging in unethical issues to support its success and ensure that it remains profitable. Discouraging its leaders from engaging in corruption or bribery activities can save the company from facing legal charges. My ethics can encourage the company workers to become honest, loyal, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Robinson, J., Moyer, M., Maghsoudi, M., & Martinez-Smith, C. (2020). Deconstructing ethical ambiguity: Ethical decision-making when working with multiple ethical codes of conduct. Journal of Professional Counseling: Practice, Theory & Research, 47(2), 61−74. Web.
Ruggiero, V. (2014). Thinking critically about ethical issues. McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
Sang-Hun, C. (2017). Samsung’s leader is indicted on bribery charges. The New York Times. Web.