A little known fact that I just saw on a trivia show about a month ago dealt with AT&T. I was shocked to find out that AT&T stands for the “American Telephone and Telegraph” company which began around the end of the 19th century. With over a century of technology and personnel changes on every level, the company must be doing something right to still be going so strong after so long. Many companies suffer and eventually file for bankruptcy after too many competitors enter their market.
Blockbuster and Hostess both experienced high customer demand for years but eventually went under like so many others. The factors that led up to their demise may have been poor food costs, unexpected expenses, or even deviation from a code of ethics. A company needs a code of ethics to operate efficiently and effectively. One online site states the code of ethics as being “a set of principles of conduct within an organization that guides decision making and behavior. The purpose of the code is to provide members and other interested persons with guidelines for making ethical choices in the conduct of their work” (USLegal Inc. 2013, para. 1). AT&T lays out a very specific outline for how they expect their employees, directors, and officers to act and handle themselves while at work or as a representative of the company. Their code of ethics says that these company representatives are expected to act with integrity and remain honest as long as it does not require any confidential information to be given away but it later states that they expect employees to observe government or local laws, rules and regulations (AT&T Intellectual Property, 2013).
I don’t understand how they can expect to you adhere to strict ethical codes but not require you to observe all local and federal laws and not just observe them. Outside of that one observation, I do believe that AT&T expects all employees to adhere to this code of ethics because they want all company representatives to be familiar with it. The code goes on to outline several areas of interest, which include conflicts of interest, disclosure, compliance, reporting and accountability, corporate opportunities, confidentiality, fair dealing, and protection and proper use of company assets (AT&T Intellectual Property, 2013).
An example of a conflict of interest would be an AT&T employee going out to the market to a new subdivision and actually offering you sell the potential customers comparable modems at a discounted rate if they would be okay with accepting modems that he bought from eBay and installing them himself. This ethical dilemma arises far more than people think. If the customer pays for a modem stops working later, they may blame AT&T for a faulty modem that didn’t work, or even worse they could try to sue them.
The code of ethics goes on to outline compliance. It states that the company adheres to all laws and rules and pushes for the same from its employees but outlines that any deviation is at that employee’s discretion and any punishment or fines we be inflicted on that employee only (AT&T Intellectual Property, 2013). By pointing this out the company tells its employees that they expect them to act according to all laws or procedures. Everyone has to be responsible for themselves.
If an employee goes to someone’s house and steals items while they are there the company will cover themselves as much as possible but they stress that any deviations are of the employees on volition. I believe that this code of ethics does reflect the corporate values because they point out that “We have a history of succeeding through honest business competition. We do not seek competitive advantages through illegal or unethical business practices” (AT&T Intellectual Property, 2013, para. 19).
You can honestly say that looking back I can’t recall ever seeing an ad on TV where AT&T made fun of or belittled another competitor, similar to the way ALLTEL has in there commercials for years. I was surprised that their code of ethics didn’t mention anything about the history of the company and how their practices have kept them as a customer favorite their known trustworthy nature. Overall, the company expects several ethical values to be upheld by all of its employees any by anyone who represents their company. They clearly outline what they find to be acceptable.
Without a code of ethics such as this and great communication across all levels of the company not only would they have closed their doors as so many others have but they could have faced several lawsuits along the way.
- AT&T Intellectual Property. (2013). Corporate Governance.
- AT&T Code of Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.att.com/gen/investor-relations? pid=5595 USLegal, Inc. (2013).
- Code of ethics law and legal definition. Retrieved from http://definitions.uslegal.com/c/code-of-ethics/
- Carroll, J. “Cats and the seven deadly sins. ” San Francisco Chronicle. 2011, September 07: E10.