Respond by Day 7 to two or more of your colleagues’ postings in one of the following ways:
Debate your colleague’s response with respect to the first question: whether or not Axel Springer’s social responsibility extends to conflict minerals used to produce its device. Explain why you disagree with his or her conclusion.
Comment on your colleague’s response to
the fourth question (What would you advise your employer or the other company about the extent of its corporate social responsibility in the situation you describe?). Explain whether or not you agree with his or her advice, and provide a suggestion for extending or modifying the advice.
Please use the post below and respond to Paul, attached the Axel Springer article for reference if needed:
In the case study, Axel Springer and the quest for the boundaries of corporate responsibility by Hofmann, Müller, & Bhattacharya (2014) Florian Nehm is faced with an issue on how to act. He recently came across the news that minerals that were critically important to producing electronic devices such as tablets and smartphones, were being excavated by use of horrific working conditions and environments (Hofmann, Müller, & Bhattacharya, 2014). He believes that this is relevant to his company, Axel Springer because he feared that allegations may eventually be linked back to his organization’s digital expansion efforts. The big question is; should he be worried at all?
I believe that Florian Nehm is right to be concerned about conflict materials being used in devices that support digital services. While Axel Springer is not directly manufacturing these products themselves they are one of the biggest reasons these devices are growing at such high rates. This is similar to how when they were just a printing company they became so heavily involved in paper production. Nehm became so committed to this cause that in the end, he knew the entire value chain for their papers including raw materials, production, usage, and disposal/recycling (Hofmann, Müller, & Bhattacharya, 2014). In today’s world, Alex Springer was no longer an old-school publisher but instead a digital media powerhouse. Its content was reached through innovative apps such as “iKiosk” which saw rapid growth in Europe, Austria, Spain, and the Czech Republic. With these devices continuing to grow and with Alex Springer being as big of a powerhouse as they are in digitization I believe that they must address this issue and lead by example to fight this situation.
Several considerations that Alex Springer may consider in making its decision are its strength as a company, its reach to consumers, and its ongoing commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. Alex Springer is in a position to show that this type of treatment of people is not acceptable and will not go unnoticed. Just as they showed others using paper production what was happening in that industry they could do the same here. Hofmann, Müller, & Bhattacharya (2014) states that Nehm knew that “as most of the global energy to produce and use electronic devices came from coal-fired power plants, they were also a direct cause of deforestation (“digital deforestation”) and global warming” (pg. 6). In addition, there was little being done about the disposal of these devices in the end. This issue could and should not be ignored any longer and Alex Springer had the capabilities and strength to make other aware.
One of my previous employers specialized in medical devices where materials, minerals, and other equipment was sourced from areas throughout the world. Because of this, they could potentially face a similar situation as Axel Springer. One similar company, Intertek, is taking precautions when it comes to its supply chain. They are committed to knowing the three stages of their product life-cycle, “identification,” “instruction,” and “end-of-life management” (Brousseau, 2016). One way that they fight this with identification is through verification. Brousseau (2016) states that countries “…like Brazil, are moving toward requirements for improving the environmental impact of medical electrical devices” (pg. n.a.). For production, there are even more checks in place. Brousseau (2016) claims that “it does not provide a simple list of eco-friendly design specifications, but assessment checks based on verifying procedures are in place and evidence is documented to illustrate that environmentally friendly principles were included in the design and development process” (pg. n.a). Lastly, Intertek is committed to the end life of their products. In each one of their packages they provide information on how to properly dispose products in order to minimize environmental impacts. These efforts are helping promote sustainability and social responsibility.
I would advise my organization to follow the same strategy as Intertek if they are not already. It is important for organizations to know their entire supply chain and the impacts that they are having on people and the environment from where they come. In doing this they will be promoting a better world and will, in turn, have a stronger organization.