The American Telephone & Telegraph or AT&T is a global telecommunication organization. It is the largest fixed telephone provider in America. It is also slated as the second most major mobile phone products and services provider in America (Huurdeman, 2003). The company is incorporated making it a publicly traded company. It has maintained a number of holding firms acquired over the years. This has ultimately influenced its organizational structure involving several companies in its efforts to meet the worldwide market’s needs. In 2004, the company was identified as the 20th largest telecommunications company globally with an over 116.6 million reach (Huurdeman, 2003). Its core products and services include mobile phones, Broadband, Retail and global service plans, Wi-Fi, and TV services. All these product and services are aimed at linking people in both formal and informal settings. This explains the 34,000 hotspots established by the company in various locations and an additional million such spots on a contract basis ("AT&T Inc. - Corporate Social Responsibility News, Reports and Events – CSRwire.com," n.d.).
AT &T like any other company keen on upholding a reputation as being a strong and honest brand has a code of ethics it abides to. The code of ethics governs the relations between the firm and its stakeholders, both internal and external (Huurdeman, 2003). This code outlines the responsibilities and commitments of the company towards to its external stakeholders such as the suppliers, customers, government et cetera and the internal stakeholders such as employees. These responsibilities as prescribed in the ethics code enable the company emerging dilemmas in its engagement with its various stakeholders ethically while at the same time maintaining a good reputation. Additionally, the code of ethics facilitates the creation of an enabling environment for AT&T to meet its objectives and requirements effectively.
Three Ethical Issues
The AT&T code of ethics has three core issues. The first issue is the protection of the customer’s information and communication. The second issue is integrity, honesty and abiding by ethical sale practices. Mutual respect amongst the members of the AT&T fraternity is the last critical issue covered by the company’s code of conduct (Gaughan, 2013).
The protection of customer’s information and communication is a top prerogative for the company. AT&T is keen on safeguarding its clientele’s privacy not because it is a legal requirement but rather because it is the right and ethical thing to do (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2010). Additionally, the customer’s demand and expect them to not compromise their services extended to them. The disclosure of this private information can only apply to the state agencies and to the extent allowed by the law. Besides the phone communications i.e. calls and texts, AT& T acts as the custodian of the client’s delicate and comprehensive information (Gaughan, 2013). The code bars any of the AT&T employees from the improper use of this information as it violates or infringes the clientele’s trust and is punishable by law. Infringing of the client’s privacy may also impact negatively on the company’s reputation (Gaughan, 2013). The company further knows that with technological advancements the prevalence of malicious and fraudulent access to client confidential information has risen (Gaughan, 2013). AT&T being a key player in the telecommunication industry understands this and thus its strong emphasis on this code that enhances confidentiality and protects clientele sensitive information.
The next issue, integrity, honesty and adherence to ethical sale practices. It embodies everything that takes place in the company’s day to day operations (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2010). This code requires that every employee practices maintains a high degree of ethical behavior. This code seeks to ensure that trust is fostered among the different business stakeholders in the course of its operations. It further enables take the sole duty of achieving its objectives and meeting its commitments. The company, additionally, using the ethical sale practices is enabled to outline its customer’s value (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2010). This value is quantified in the form of attendance to queries, rational presentation of the company’s products and services, exploration of innovative and sustainable communication solutions, professional and courteous way of managing client's concerns. The company focusses on ensuring the clients are treated in a manner that will enhance their loyalty and overall revenues. It is prudent to understand that honesty and ethical sales procedures are primary drivers of sales within the telecommunications sector (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2010). The conduct of the company primarily covers that which ultimately translates in part to the company s success.
The last critical ethical issue is upholding of mutual respect amongst the AT&T stakeholders. This codeprovides a healthy working environment devoid of bias, discrimination, intimidation and conflict prevails. The company expects all the members of its fraternity employ courtesy and professionalism in their engagements (Huurdeman, 2003). The Company further focuses on individual strengths and performance in its appraisal and promotion processes. It does not dwell on other discriminatory parameters such as gender, race, marital status, disability et cetera in arriving at the deserving individuals (Sandoval, 2014). The code further stipulates that all employees are the company’s ambassadors and thus expects them to put behind their personal interests for the sake of the organization. The conflict of interest that might hinder effectiveness of the organization’s personnel as they go about their tasks is avoided. The code also spells out the procedures to amicably resolve conflicts swiftly. This ensures AT&T employees stay on track in their efforts to achieve their organizational objectives.
Sprint and Verizon’s Ethical Issues
Sprint and Verizon are some of the AT&T and competitors. The two too have their code of ethics that govern their relations both within and outside their organizational frameworks. It is important to note that there exist observable similarities between the three organizations (Verizon, Sprint and AT&T) (Huurdeman, 2003).When it comes to the protection of the customers’ confidential information, Verizon is keen. The company understands that the client information ought to be used on a legitimate professional basis. Verizon’s code is in line with the privacy regulations and legislation that protect the clientele’s confidential information (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2010). Sprint, on the other hand, has effected privacy policies that are keen on assisting and informing the clients with matters regarding how the information is managed and used. This company also prohibits any access and any interference with any of the client’s information and conversations unless when required legally.
When it comes to the mutual respect amongst the company’s stakeholders is an ethical issue also resonates in the Sprint and Verizon’s ethical approaches. Sprint, in its policy, discourages any harassment among its employees cultivating a conducive working environment. It tries to ensure a level playfield prevails at Sprint (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2010). The policy, however, is silent or rather not well-elaborate in regards to discrimination. Verizon, on the other hand, offers a different approach in the sense that the discrimination and harassment victims are allowed directly to confront those engaging in the acts without necessarily reporting them (Huurdeman, 2003).
Verizon and Sprint have also instituted integrity, honesty and adherence to ethical sale practices within their organizational frameworks. Verizon, for instance, highlights that integrity is critical to its operations and building of trust with the society, customers, and other stakeholders (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2010). Sprint cites that its standing as an ethical organization is an integral asset. The company additionally enhances ethical leadership that incorporates integrity, accountability and honesty with the focus being the client. By having such best practices, Sprint believes it will be the organization everyone would want to engage with.
The techniques that AT &T could initiate to ensure its code of conduct remains relevant would be the periodical review of these policies while at the same time incorporating arising trends tailor-made for its current environment as well as its clientele base (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2010). The second technique would be to initiate regular training and retraining of its employees on the ethical procedures associated with AT&T. This would be important in curbing laxity and encouraging an ethical environment (Huurdeman, 2003).
Techniques to Ensure Relevance of the Code of Ethics
These two techniques enable AT&T effectively address environmental issues such as carbon emissions management, waste reduction, and renewable energy. The policies have seen the company introduce production processes that are environmental-friendly. The company also has guidelines on how to manage its waste (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2010). Recycling and introduction of paperless offices are some of the initiatives undertaken to see the company waste is managed effectively.
Technological Advancements and their Problems
AT&T has been leading inthe use of the latest technology to improve on its service and product delivery. The company is keen on adopting Long Term Evolution technology to boost the internet data speeds. This network will revolutionize the communications industry with the company anticipating its rolling out by the end of the year (Gaughan, 2013).Mobile telephones, and technology are shifting to the online platforms,i.e., use of mobile applications which has seen call revenues decline. AT&T as a global corporation may not ultimately feel the effects of this at the moment, but all indicators point to the mobile applications being the future of mobile telephony. The introduction of LTE also may portend structural controversies that may see legal and financial tussles emerging (Gaughan, 2013). Being a new technology there will be a need for much restraint and routine testing to ensure it serves the market well. The other problem that has faced the company is the wireless network regular failure. This has seen it draw much criticism from its subscribers.
One approach that the company can use to counter the mobile applications problem is through diversification of products and services at the same time tapping into mobile platform applications. As for the LTE technology problems, the company can roll out massive campaign on the benefits of the technology as well as supporting research and studies on it (Huurdeman, 2003). The problems emanating from the wireless network failures can be solved through increase of hot spots and subcontracting some of the wireless network management functions to small technical firms. These firms will ensure that the systems area regularly checked and upgraded (Gaughan, 2013).
As for lobbying AT&T is said to have sunk millions of dollars in lobbying for its merger with T-Mobile. The company was keen on influencing the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission to its side in the reviewing of the proposed merger (Sandoval, 2014). This was after opponents launched a last minute bid against it to the authorities with the hope of hindering the $39 billion pact from being actualized (Sandoval, 2014). Much of the AT&T funds were used to hire lawyers and lobbying shops to push the commission to approve the mega deal with T-Mobile. Its lobbying paid off with much support being drawn from politicians and trade organizations. The pact did eventually come into effect in 2013 (Sandoval, 2014).
Global Citizenship Efforts
AT&T like any other reputable organization has successfully engaged in global citizenship endeavors. These endeavors have been crucial for the company’s efforts to effectively to accomplish its objectives. In December 2011, the company launched a new social engagement platform to foster activism ("AT&T Inc. - Corporate Social Responsibility News, Reports and Events – CSRwire.com," n.d.). This platform will be integral for the public to voice their concerns while positively impacting on societal issues such as the need for recycling cell phones, declining in secondary school graduation and much more (Sandoval, 2014). The platform dubbed as causes.com uses Facebook vast network to maximize its effect on shared action. The initiative raised over 40 million dollars that went into critical initiatives such as environmental conservation ("AT&T Inc. - Corporate Social Responsibility News, Reports and Events – CSRwire.com," n.d.). The company has also initiated other global citizenship efforts dwelling on energy-reduction. This saw the company reduce its energy consumption levels in its operations. The AT&T CSR Newswire cites that the company saved 151 million dollars by establishing efficient energy efficiency endeavors.
AT&T Inc. - Corporate Social Responsibility News, Reports and Events – CSRwire.com. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2014,
Ferrell, O., Fraedrich, J., & Ferrell, L. (2010). Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making and Cases : 2009 Update. Mason: South-Western Cengage Learning.
Gaughan, P. (2013). Maximizing Corporate Value Through Mergers and Acquisitions: A Strategic Growth Guide. New York: Wiley.
Huurdeman, A. (2003). The Worldwide History of Telecommunications. New York: J. Wiley.
Sandoval, M. (2014). From Corporate to Social Media: Critical Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility in Media and Communication Industries. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.