I must admit that Dyson is a company that I don’t like. Why, I am not so sure. I don’t know if it is for commercial reasons, political ones or that I think its products are overrated and way too expensive. James Dyson is successful enough not to worry about what I think though.

Putting my prejudices aside, I ask myself if Dyson is an ethical company?

On the face of it, the answer is yes. On its website you can read its policy statement: Roland Krueger, Chief Executive Officer says that ‘Dyson’s policy is to conduct all our business in a legal, ethical and responsible manner.’ The rest of the statement goes on to talk about ‘the necessity of environmental stewardship to the long-term sustainable growth of Dyson, through the protection of our employees, the people working within our supply chains, and the localities in which we operate.’ 

There is nothing outside of its commitment to environmental concerns. Whilst these are important it all seems a bit thin.

I then read in London Economic News that ‘Vacuum manufacturer Dyson is facing legal action after more than a dozen workers making products and components in Malaysia accused them of labour abuses.’

‘Workers employed at ATA Industrial, a division of ATA IMS, a major electronics manufacturer in Johor Bahru, which makes cordless vacuum cleaners and purifier fans for Dyson, have said they intend to file a claim against Dyson in court, accusing the company of negligence.’

In 2021 Dyson stopped dealing with ATA IMS following a review of its policies and prcatices, despite the allegations of wrongdoing, including torture, being made in 2019.

I am not making any accusations against Dyson here. My blog is to highlight how complicated business ethics is. On the one hand the company is stating its position quite clearly and has acted to resolve an unethical practice within its supply chain. On the other hand however, its policies seem weak and there was quite a delay between discovery and action. It also shows how it is impossible to separate my own prejudices from questions of ethics.

I am left wondering if Dyson is an ethical company that acted when it discovered bad practices, or an unethical company that only acted when it was found out. 

You decide.

Phil Jackman – Director, Guerrilla Working and NIBE