Ethics of Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft Corporation was established in 1975 Bill Gates and Paul Allen with the primary objective of developing and selling BASIC interpreters. As time passed, the organization achieved dominance within the personal computer operating systems segment. At the turn of the 1990s, the company had largely diversified its business leading to improved levels of profitability. The company provides a reasonable platform to assess ethical codes owing to its large size and diverse operations. According to the Microsoft (n.d.), the company's mission rests on enabling people and business entities across the globe to attain their full potential. Just as in other cases of organizational mission statements, Microsoft's statement shows its commitment to customers. The company proceeds to assert that it does everything within its power to ensure the mission is accomplished. The fact that Microsoft is a leading company in the innovation and accessibility industry is testament to its mission. However, concerns about safety and ease to use persist with the company's products.

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Analysis of Microsoft Ethical Code

Shafer-Landau (2011) observed that various forms of ethical dispositions exist. An "end-driven" ethical framework is the one which is based on the idea that the right actions are those that lead to the attainment of a certain goal. End-driven theories such as the one by Aristotle indicate that all human's actions are intended to yield happiness (Shafer-Landau, 2011). Under the utilitarianism theory, the view that the best end is the one that generates the most preferable outcomes takes precedence (Shafer-Landau, 2011). However, the Kantian school of ethics focuses on the rightness of an action as opposed to the ends. Nevertheless, ends are deemed critical in human engagements. In brief, theories that qualify actions based on results are labeled as ends-driven. Based on the above information, it is important to note that Microsoft Corporation is in business. Logically, any business entity has a mission or objective that it seeks to achieve. Although the mission statements of companies appear to indicate a commitment to the larger society, often such is seen as a ploy to endear their businesses to consumers. Hence, it is held that the ethical system of Microsoft is ends-driven.

To lend credence to the above observation, the paper focuses on the company's financial department code of ethics. With specific focus on the Microsoft Finance Code of Professional Conduct, it is apparent that the company seeks the enhancement of professional conduct in financial management. To attain the mission, the company's Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Accounting Officer, and junior employees perform critical duties in corporate governance (Microsoft Corporation, 2014). In particular, the officers are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the Finance Code of Professional Conduct is observed. The ethical framework outlines rules guiding individuals' and affiliates' responsibilities to the public. Disciplinary action against those culpable is initiated if the code of conduct is violated. It is noted that punitive measures are severe as termination of employment is one of the possibilities.

 

Under the code of conduct, each employee is under an obligation to be honest and uphold integrity by desisting from engaging in activities that cause conflict of interest while discharging professional duties (Microsoft Corporation, 2014). Besides, employees are required to provide accurate, objective, fair, timely, relevant, complete, and understandable information to stakeholders. The company's workers are also encouraged to comply with regulations provided by the state, governments, and any other regulatory agencies.

In line with the code of conduct, workers of Microsoft are expected to act with good intentions responsibly, exercise due care competently and diligently, and not to misrepresent material facts or insubordinate anyone's judgment (Microsoft Corporation, 2014). Similarly, employees are required to respect information confidentiality as obligated by the law. Other aspects that the code of ethics touches on include use of confidential information for private gain, sharing of knowledge and professional skills, stewardship of the company's resources, coercion, manipulation, and undue influence. It is observed that whoever contravenes the company's code is subject to punitive measures initiated internally.

For employees, the code of ethics is critical in guiding their conduct while discharging their duties. For the management, this code is equally useful since it offers them a guideline on how to advise workers below them. Besides, the code is instrumental as it guides the management on the appropriate action to take whenever an employee contravenes the provisions of conduct. The board of directors represents the most important stakeholders of the company, as it is charged with overseeing the running of the entity. Hence, the latter group is responsible for the running of the organization in its entirety. Specifically, the financial code of conduct is useful to the board since it serves as a reference point when assessing how the company is progressing in the pursuit of its mission and vision.

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The primary reason why the code of conduct is used is to streamline service delivery (Shafer-Landau, 2011). Often, companies want to portray a certain image. Consequently, having a code of conduct is significant in setting the company apart from the rest. Generally, such a code is used in guiding the day-to-day running of departmental activities such as disclosing of information regarding products and services to customers. As already indicated, the use of the ethical code is in line with the objective of directing organizational affairs. Thus, the question regarding how the code is used is answered based on the manner in which those responsible for departmental operations apply the guidelines. In the current case, there is no provision relating to how it is used. However, reading of the code demonstrates that the code is used to punish those who deviate from expectations. The article by Microsoft Corporation (2014) also shows that the code is used when discharging duties and doling out punishment to violators.

The business environment is overly dynamic. Hence, change management is an approach that organizations such as Microsoft need to address. Going through the financial code of conduct does not indicate expressly that the fines attached to violation. Based on this assessment, changes in punishment may be necessary. Similarly, changes might be necessary to reflect each type of violation and the attendant punishment. Implementing the changes would require an incremental approach in order to limit unintended organizational disruptions. However, introducing amendments to the code would elicit varied reactions. For instance, managers may argue against specifying a fine to a certain form of violation since such might go against organizational culture. However, Microsoft is expected to make room for it in line with the culture of embracing change. The overall effect of the change would be on the strictness of adherence to the code guidelines.

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To conclude, ethics plays an integral role within organizations. The new code of ethics would specify the fines attached to every form of violation. The codes of ethics are intended to streamline behavior and allow an entity to attain its goals. As the paper shows, abiding by ethical guidelines is expected to cater for the needs of all stakeholders within a business environment.

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