After a steelmaker’s deception, steps to restore trust

Adapted from an article published in The Christian Science Monitor, October 12, 2017.

The head of Kobe Steel, a giant manufacturer of metal products in Japan, made a rare admission on October 12, 2017. After admitting his company had long lied about the quality of its materials, which are used worldwide in products from cars to computer chips, Hiroya Kawasaki added: “Trust in our company has dropped to zero.”

In an era of damaging deceptions by big businesses, his frankness was refreshing—and necessary to quickly figure out which vital metal products, such as airplane parts, need replacing. Many other big companies, such as Volkswagen and Wells Fargo, have recently lied about the quality of their products or services. Mr. Kawasaki was quicker than most corporate chieftains in restoring trust in his company.

His contrition now allows the 112-year-old company to begin the process of restoring its reputation in the global supply chain of manufacturers. Employees will be grilled on why the company shipped more than 20,000 tons of aluminum and copper products with fabricated inspection data to about 200 customers. Kobe Steel is also telling customers the details of its falsehoods. And the company will report within a month on which preventive measures it has put in place.

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