Computers in many forms are an important part of our life. However, do you know the life
stages of a computer? The life of a computer can be summarized into the following stages. The
initial stage is the extraction of mineral resources from the earth. The second stage is to
manufacture these minerals into different parts of a computer through various processes. The
computers are then packed and transported to different locations in the world to be sold to
individuals and businesses. At some stage in its life it may need to be repaired when it
malfunctions. At the end of its life, the parts of a computer may either be recycled or go to
It should be noted that computers have some social and environmental impacts. For instance:
• some mineral resources are non-renewable and also damage the environment on their
• manufacturing often happens factories in developing countries where there are cases of
workers including young children getting exploited.
• packing computers involve a significant amount of Styrofoam and cardboard which
have their own environmental impact.
• the transport of computers for thousands of kilometers has an environmental impact in
the form of large amount of carbon emissions
• the use of computers requires electricity, which may be produced from coal, petroleum,
or natural gas etc.
In recent years, an increasing number of companies have become more aware of the importance
of sustainable development and are making solid efforts to reduce their social and environment
impacts. For example, Dell – one of the largest computer corporations – aims to develop its
business in a sustainable way. More information can be found from the Dell 2020 Legacy of
Good Plan. In this plan, Dell is committed to contribute in a positive way to the environment
(e.g. reducing greenhouse gas emissions), communities (e.g. providing grants) and people (e.g.
maintaining a good relationship with worldwide fellow team members). In addition to this
program, Dell features a technology recycling program, which gives discarded electronic
devices a new life through re-use or by recycling them. Dell became the first computer
company that does not export e-waste to developing countries for landfill.
Assume you are a newly appointed accountant in a local computer company. This is a private
company with 30 shareholders, and it has a highly integrated industrial value chain. Currently,
the company has 6 departments namely, the Research and Development, Manufacturing,
Finance, Sales and Marketing, Distribution and Human Resources department with a total of
150 employees. Managers in each department are given the authority regarding operational
decisions and their performance is measured based on the company’s profit. In order to cut
down costs, the manufacturing department manufactures computers locally using parts that are
mostly imported from different suppliers in Bangladesh and China. Recently, the
manufacturing department manager heard that some of their suppliers are exploiting their
workforce in order to produce these parts. These workers are forced to work long hours in
unsafe working conditions on very low wages. The former accountant is unsure who should be
responsible to ensure the quality of working conditions and wages to the local staff of suppliers
and so she has decided to ignore it.
As well as the manufacturing manager, the CEO of this company has noticed the unprecedented
awareness from customers on the company’s social responsibilities. Many customers expressed
the idea that they would not purchase any unethically produced or environmentally unfriendly
products. So the CEO is passionate about the social and environmental issues, and wonders
what positive or negative social and environmental impact his company’s computers might
1. As a newly appointed accountant, you would like to have a better understanding of the
new company. You believe the most efficient way is to identify important stakeholders.
Identify five relevant stakeholder groups and discuss how different accounts could be
used to satisfy each group’s information requirements.
2. Regarding the social and environment issue, you found the major difficulty faced by
the CEO is to identify the direct and indirect social and environmental impacts of the
company’s operations. You have been asked to assist the CEO with this task and are
required to draw the supply chain, and select one or two stages, identifying a total of
four possible social and environment impacts. If the impact is detrimental either
socially or environmentally, give suggestions to minimize the impact. If the impact is
positive, give suggestions as to maximize the benefit.
3. After the CEO has discussed his view on social and environmental awareness of
customers, the manufacturing department manager approaches you to seek your advice
on whether an investigation into the working conditions of the factories of their
overseas suppliers should occur. You believe that the manager should take action
immediately as it is important to work with ethical suppliers. Give either one or two
real life examples to discuss how a business could be negatively impacted if they are
working with unethical suppliers.
4. The CEO is considering an investment of $1m to establish a sustainability department.
The CEO uses the five step process (see Module 2 Topic 1) to make decisions, and is
wondering how you as an accountant could assist in the decision making process.
Advise the CEO on how you can assist with his decision making. Be specific and in
your response make reference to the five step process.
5. Subsequently a plan to establish a sustainability department is agreed upon. Some
important shareholders attempted to block this proposal. Their belief as the owners of
this company is that the company should aim to maximize the value of their shares,
however, the new sustainability department could significantly increase the costs and
therefore reduce the profit. Think of a potential sustainability project and explain
whether and how that project could potentially increase the value of their shares in the
long term. Further, discuss how value could be created for other stakeholders (if any)
when the project is implemented