The Federal Express Corporation (FedEx) is an American company that operates in the field of delivery services. The company is distinguished by its overnight shipping and the introduction of tracking technology that allows monitoring the delivery in a real-time manner. The philosophy adopted by FedEx is based on the three components, such as people, service, and profit. While several events show that the company failed to respond ethically, the current stance of FedEx seems to be stronger as a result of prioritizing integrity in its new Code of Conduct. The purpose of this paper is to examine the recent issues that are related to FedEx ethics to understand the progress the company made to ensure the highest ethical standards.
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One of the most prominent scandals that involved FedEx happened in 2014 when it became known that a football player practiced domestic violence with regard to his wife. Namely, Ray Rice, a player of the National Football League (NFL), was supported by FedEx, one of the key sponsors. In response to such unethical behavior, the company did not stop its assistance to the NFL but also insisted on its point of view (Smith). FedEx was also accused of the late delivery of the video that shows how Ray Rice hit his wife. While the company accepted its failure to timely present the footage, its relationships with the League were not broken. It should be stressed that the collaboration of FedEx and the NFL is beneficial for both of them, which can be one of the critical reasons for continuing the sponsorship.
A deeper look into the details of the identified situation allows suggesting that the company’s response was not perfect, but it fits the ethical theories. Namely, according to the idea of utilitarianism, more significant good considerations should be the foundation for any business. In this connection, one may state that the continuation of the cooperation with the League is advantageous for players, viewers, and the company as well. It is evident that the trust of the public towards the NFL decreased as a result of the mentioned scandal, and FedEx had the opportunity to contribute to its restoration. In other words, the greater good of the public was considered by the company as the idea that guided their decision.
Another issue is associated with the attitudes of the company to its employees, namely, contractual drivers. The latter are perceived as people who can individually design their schedule and work according to their own available hours. As argued by Biegelsen, in 2012, the drivers had to pick up the cargo at the terminal at 6 AM, and they are paid for the timely delivery, not the working hours.
The independent contractors do not receive day-offs when they are sick or have to care for their family members. The evidence shows that more than 40 sue inquiries were presented to the court against FedEx. The main concerns expressed by the drivers are related to the unethical treatment of employees and the inability to meet their needs. The violation of the state and federal law hours along with a lack of social benefits was also noted as the issues that cannot be underestimated.
In 2019, China accused FedEx of attempting to smuggle guns into Hong Kong, which is now in the midst of massive protests. It is about sending with unusual knives of non-standard shape and size. The shipment was found at a FedEx branch in mainland China, and its contents were arrested (Wong). It is worth noting that the sale, production, and purchase of such knives are prohibited in China. Since they fall under the definition of a dangerous weapon and require special permission, after the discovery of the parcel, an investigation was launched. FedEx has already stated that the questioning mail has been appropriately handled in accordance with standard security procedures.
It came from a regular client and did not violate the established rules, as reported by The Wall Street Journal (Wong). In June, Chinese authorities launched an investigation into the US FedEx after Huawei said that two parcels of important documents sent from Japan to China were redirected to the United States. At the same time, Huawei did not receive any notifications. FedEx apologized and reported that the package was diverted due to an error (Robertson).
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These situations demonstrate that FedEx faces problems that question its ethics and makes people think that the company cannot operate appropriately. While it responds appropriately and provides clear explanations in some cases, others are often given less attention. For example, in the case of the independent contractors, the company did not give the results of the investigation, yet it declared that the working conditions would be improved.
Today, FedEx is regarded as one of the most attractive and trusted employers as it encourages more than 400,000 members of its team to positively focus on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards, the needs of its customers and communities. FedEx supports people-to-people contacts and opportunities around the world. In other words, there are significant changes that allow assuming that the company’s approach to ethics was improved.
Measures Taken to Improve Ethics
The most vivid change in FedEx’s ethics can be traced while reviewing the company’s newly introduced Code of Conduct. The official website of this global logistics corporation clarifies that the mentioned document was reconsidered, and new perspectives were included. Earning the trust of the team members is assigned a top priority, which is to be achieved via diversity, inclusion, and teamwork initiatives. The responsibilities of the team members are also clarified and based on the concept of integrity. It involves such components as respect, honor, reliability, fairness, and trustworthiness (“FedEx Code of Conduct”).
The Code is an internal document that is mandatory for compliance with all the managers, officers, and employees of the company. The definition of corporate values for the moral behavior of employees within the company also promotes ethics. The development of a unified corporate culture based on high ethical standards helps to maintain an atmosphere of trust, mutual respect, and decency.
By increasing the confidence in the company on the part of the business community, FedEx aims to strengthen its reputation as an open and honest market participant. It also identifies and prevents unjustified risks, supports economic growth and further development of transportation (“FedEx Code of Conduct”). The company recognizes an open exchange of information with employees and partners, and honest way of conducting market competition, and a willingness to confirm its high status as a reliable partner. Today, FedEx values its reputation and trust rendered by business partners and society.
The company is fully responsible for business partners and culture in the provision of a full range of services; to employees in the framework of fulfilling social obligations and ensuring the most excellent efficiency of activity. In terms of justice, the company strives to build an incentive system for its employees, which implies remuneration in accordance with the results of their actions and equal conditions for professional growth.
In 2019, FedEx planned to spend more than $ 3.2 billion on salary increases, bonus payments, pension financing, and expanding US investments amid the adoption of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. FedEx believes the Law on tax cuts and job creation will also increase the US GDP and investment. The company firmly maintains high ethical standards, complying with pertinent laws and regulations.
The current success of the company is due, among other things, to financial transparency of its activities, transparent and mutually beneficial relations with customers, open and conscientious relations with authorities, and business development based on the principle of social responsibility. The Code of Conduct establishes professional, moral, and ethical standards for the rules of conduct and interaction of employees, regardless of the level of their position.
The main principle of building external relations is to justify the trust and expectations of customers and partners, as well as the sustainable maintenance of a high level of quality of services. All ties of FedEx are built on the basis of partnership and mutual respect, in which the company fulfills its obligations and expects the full implementation of commitments from its partners. The company is focused on building long-term and effective business relationships with customers and partners. The company is open to customers and partners in sharing the necessary information with them, which can help in assessing the stability and business reputation. The company values every client and partner who is unique in their individuality. The company is focused on high standards of quality of the services provided, strongly supporting its high business reputation and image.
As for employees and internal ethics, the company states that it does not discriminate against anyone, regardless of his or her ethnic origin, religion, gender, political views, age, nationality, sexual orientation, and physical disability. While corruption is prohibited, FedEx does not provide any other illegal financial benefits either to officials, clients or to other parties in any circumstances. The compliance with the rules set out in the Code of Conduct contributes to the success of the business and the creation of a favorable atmosphere for all employees. In other words, one can state that significant progress is noted in the development of FedEx as an ethical and responsible company that focuses on employees and customers, also taking into account society as a whole.
To conclude, it should be stressed that FedEx, the international logistics company, faced several ethical issues while being involved in them either directly or incidentally. This paper discusses three situations with the scandal related to domestic violence of the NFL member, illegal weapon transportation, and the unethical approach to drivers. Based on the analysis of the changes in the company’s Code of Conduct, it is found that today’s position of the company is much more robust since it clearly defines the expected behaviors in various areas.
Biegelsen, Amy. “FedEx Fails to Deliver for Drivers.” The Center for Public Integrity, 2014. Web.
“FedEx Code of Conduct.” FedEx, 2019. Web.
Robertson, Adi. “FedEx sues US Government over Export Rules after Huawei Shipping Problems.” The Verge. 2019. Web.
Smith, Michael David. “NFL Doesn’t Appear to be Losing Sponsors for Ray Rice mess.” NBC Sports. 2014. Web.
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Wong, Chun Han. “Chinese Police Probe Gun in FedEx Package.” The Wall Street Journal. 2019. Web.