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a) The main facts about the activities of the company.

HP was started in a garage in Palo Alto in 1939, by the two electrical engineering students Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard with an initial capital investment of US$538. Over the years they concentrated on manufacturing electrical hardware associated with home entertainment as well as office work, e.g., printers, scanners, digital cameras, calculators, PDAs, servers, workstation and home computers. In 1968, HP became famous for its scientific calculators, which were also seen as worlds first personal computer. In 1980 HP invented a real PC and in 1984 HP invented the laser printer followed by the inkjet-printer. In 2008 there came an end to the production of digital cameras by HP and the company announced rather to focus and invest its money on the field of printers in the coming years.

1939: Foundation of Hewlett-Packard
1957: HP goes public
1968: HP invents its first scientific calculator, which was also called the first personal computer
1980: HP first real PC
1984: HP invents its printers: ThinkJet and LaserJet
1991: HP starts recycling its toner cartridges
1996: HP recycles its 10 millionth LaserJet cartridge
1997: HP recycles also InkJet cartridges
2002: Merger of HP and Compaq

HP is now one of the world’s largest information technology companies, operating in nearly every country.

b) The ethical challenges this company is addressing.

In 2004, HP challenged itself to recycle one billion pounds of electronics, toner and ink cartridges. It reached this target in 2007 and it wants to meet new target of recycling two more billion pounds of hardware by the end of 2010.

The ethical challenge the company is facing is the following: HP could choose the easy way and recycle not at all or just as much as it is required to do by the law.
The problem that HP is avoiding with this actions is the problem of ?e-waste?: A large amount of broken electronical products is exported to Nigeria, India or China, being marked as still usable. There, children would dismantle the products and burn the pieces to get valuable raw materials out of them. In this process, a lot of toxic chemical are set free and damage the health of the children or the environment around the landfill. Although this procedure of exporting e-waste is prohibited by law, it is cheaper than to actually recycle the products.

Now, since HP chose to recycle a lot more e-waste than it is required by law means that it chose not to take the unethical, yet profit-maximizing option, but instead the ethical and profit-reducing option.

Furthermore, HP publishes a report on the emissions of its supply chain and is working on programs to reduce the emissions. It is also gradually reducing the use of toxic materials in the production process as to decrease the possible dangerous effects on the environment. This are two more examples where HP chose to take the more ethical, but not profit-optimizing option.

c) What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it.

Several times we heard good things about HP and their respect towards communities and the environment. Starting from this interesting but no based information, we decided to go deeper on it, in order to understand better the corporation and finally analyze it - with the gathered data and information - when it comes to ethical concerns.

We used several sources of information, from neutral ones (as Wikipedia), to their own website, organizations that evaluates ethical issues (?green rankings?), and costumers reviews and critics.

In neutral sources, we found positive evaluations and results, recognizing HP?s concern with ethical dilemmas and Corporate Social Responsibility. Among many prizes they won for their ethical concern:

- Newsweek ranked HP #1 on its 2009 Green Rankings of America’s 500 largest corporations
- HP took the top spot on Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens List for 2010 (see below)
- Fortune magazine named HP one of the World?s Most Admired Companies in 2010, placing it No. 2 in the computer industry and No. 32 overall in its list of the top 50.
- second year in a row that HP is named one of the World?s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute.
- HP is listed in Greenpeace?s Guide to Greener Electronics that ranks electronics manufacturers according to their policies on toxic chemicals, recycling and climate change

Newsweek rated HP as #2 in the Worldwide and the American Green Rankings, taking into account ?environmental footprint and management of that footprint (including policies and strategies), along with its reputation among environmental experts?.

When it comes to costumers reviews, we found different opinions. Many of them were satisfied with their HP products and their environmental policies; but not every one.

However, after studying several brands and corporations during this course and in other occasions, we found it very hard to define a profitable organization as purely ethic towards society and environment.

Since mid-20th century, many durable goods started to be manufactured with the idea of limiting their lifetime in order to make sure consumers would keep on buying frequently those products or other complements, e.g. light bulbs and ink cartridges, respectively. The name of this strategy to increase sales and, therefore, profit is planned obsolescence.

d) The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

In future HP will face a next generation of the computer systems industry, the embedded computing. HP researchers have demonstrated that the embedded computer chips are a software that automates the creation of custom and that this innovation will have the potential to hugely increase the number and types of "smart" products that could be built.
HP are aimed at creating ?disruptive technologies that will enable a world of service-centric computing and establish entirely new markets for HP and the industry?.

But this fact is not the only one HP will have to face, since, at the same time its production increases, the number of devices and electronic waste increases and the emissions produced in the productive process increases, too.
Therefore, more recycling and control will be needed.

HP has already been involved in projects as the FT Climate Change Challenge which aims to seek out the most exciting and practical innovations that will reduce emissions where it sponsored the winning project or in offering awards to create opportunities for breakthrough research in collaboration with HP scientists.

However, the main potential of HP to improve from the social and ethical point of view and to meet the challenges of a world full of connected people is the use of its expertise in technology and skilled workforce.

These assets can create new possibilities for technology to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, governments and society in the future; they can help to develop solutions to key social issues like education or health.
The creation of a dedicated corporate branch to social innovation indicates us that HP is prompting its core business to advance social issues around the world.



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2 Discussions / 2 Messages

  • HP and its toner cartridges policy 4 June 2012 at 03:43 , by sarabon

    I felt inspired by HP’s environmental approach as I believe it being a crucial worldwide issue, ofter not taken into consideration by corporations within the profit-maximization logic.
    Not only has HP effectively been addressing the topic of recycling toner cartridges -before other companies started considering it, but it has also done efforts in reducing its emissions impact as well as toxic materials usage.
    Indeed the problem of planned obsolescence is highly affecting the way business is carried out and how individuals perceive consumption: products are technically designed to break after a certain amount of time and usage, and at that point it often turns out to be cheaper to buy a new product rather than having the old one repaired. A vicious cycle of increasing waste is thus created, harmful for the environment and for the society as a whole.
    This tends to be particularly true for toner cartridges, which are not only expensive -especially if compared with the current price of printers, but also very difficult to recycle in a proper manner.
    Moreover, the issue of high-tech waste exported to African countries as still usable in order to circumvent law’s prohibition is negatively affecting these countries and their populations, subject to foreign corporations’ market rules.
    Within this context, HP’s efforts shall be appreciated as well as further increased and spread in the news, in order to create a positive precedent and incentive for other companies, as well as developing innovative technologies to improve the recycling process in other industries’ as well.

  • HP’s wisdom on business ethics 5 October 2012 at 10:45 , by SunPeng

    As the leader in the field of hard-and software, HP really did a lot in the business ethics aspect.Like recycle large quantity of electronics, toner and ink cartridges which would cost much more compare simply export e-waste to other countries as other company did;like publishes a report on the emissions of its supply chain,compare to what Apple have done which lack of inspection on their supply chain regaridng the pollute issue and refuse the enviromental organization to investigate on it,I’m absolutely inspired by the HP.
    Furthermore, HP have taken a lot of innovation which is potential to create new possibilities for technology to have a meaningful impact in the future; they can help to develop solutions to key social issues like education or health.Thus HP would continue to develop their business in ethics and harmonious way.It can be considered as the model of perfect combination of business and ethics.As we know that if to insist business ethics which will endanger the core competitiveness, then the business ethics can’t be insisted any longer!

Location: Palo Alto (United States of America)

Sector: services, hard- and sofware

Official website: http://www.hp.com

Key figures:

HP has a net revenue of $126 billion over the year 2010, up 10 percent year-over-year
GAAP operating profit of $11.5 billion, up 13 percent year-over-year
GAAP diluted earnings per share of $3.69, up 18 percent year-over-year
HP serves more than 1 billion customers in more than 170 countries on six continents
HP has approximately 324.600 employees worldwide

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