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Ethical Dilemmas in Workplace

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Ethical Dilemmas in Workplace Many large organizations set out their purposes and values as a part of the job of managing stakeholder relationships. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Ethical Dilemmas in Workplace


1
Ethical Dilemmas in Workplace
  • Many large organizations set out their
    purposes and values as a part of the job of
    managing stakeholder relationships. Such
    guidelines, or ethical codes, set out desirable
    conduct and best practices, provide framework to
    help employees resolve ethical dilemmas they may
    encounter in their work.

2
The individual at work
  • We all have rights, duties, responsibilities,
    powers, interests etc which accrue to us as
    people within a society.
  • We do not lose these moral responsibilities as we
    enter the work place instead we gain new ones
    that are contingent to holding the post within
    the organization.
  • These new powers, responsibilities, duties,
    interests, concerns etc can be different from the
    ones we had before, they may even be in conflict
    with them
  • Many of the moral dilemmas faced at the workplace
    are raised by issues that are not peculiar to
    work but are to do with interpersonal
    relationships with the people you are dealing
    with.

3
Power, Authority Trust
  • We owe special degree of consideration who are
    closest to us. What is laudable as a private
    person becomes suspect once we are acting in
    trust of a third party (organization). It is even
    more suspect if what makes it possible for that
    person to act in that way is that the power and
    authority lent by the organization itself
  • Though it is clear in principle, drawing a line
    between private and public is not easy.

4
The Three Elements of Moral Courage
Principles
Courage that quality of mind which enables one
to encounter danger difficulties with
firmness or without fear or fainting of heart
Moral courage
Two types of courage Physical- Principle
related Moral- Principle driven
Endurance
Danger
Moral courage is the courage to be moral
whatever adheres to five core moral values of
honesty, respect, responsibility, fairness and
compassion
5
Moral Courage in Practice
  • Why should moral courage matter so much these
    days? In part because we see so many examples of
    its lack in corporate settings and legal
    proceedings, in politics sports, entertainment
    and in personal and social relationship.
  • But there is another deeper reason. The
    proving of ones courage has long been a rite of
    passage from youth to adulthood. With physical
    courage less obviously in demand as we move onto
    the 21st century, the young could begin testing
    themselves against a courage that is moral rather
    than physical. If the need for physical courage
    is dwindling in everyday life, the opposite is
    happening for moral courage and soon be an
    indicator of MATURITY

6
Cases
  • A purchasing manager giving purchase orders to a
    cousin (otherwise well qualified) who could be in
    financial straits?
  • Show special consideration to friends and
    relatives who apply for jobs within the
    organization. Using your influence to get a
    relative / friend a job though he is adequately
    qualified.
  • Using organizations stationery or reprographic
    facilities for work of a charitable organization
    with which he / she is associated.
  • A financial journalist use the knowledge gained
    from doing the job to tip off friends about risky
    investments

7
Resolving an Ethical Dilemma
  • Generally there are three major approaches that
    we use in handling ethical dilemmas. They are
  • Focusing on the practical consequences (results
    oriented Utilitarian) of what we do --
    Teleological ethics
  • Focusing on the fact that actions have intrinsic
    moral value some actions are good (telling the
    truth, honoring promises) while some are bad (
    dishonesty, coercion). No matter how much good
    comes out of lying, the action will never be
    good. Deontological (action oriented
    --Universalism)
  • Philosophical / Moral / Virtue ethics by
    conducting through rational and secular outlook
    that is grounded in the notions of human
    happiness and well being

8
Thinkers have debated the relative merit of these
approaches for centuries, but for getting help
with handling ethical dilemmas, think of them as
complementary strategies for analyzing and
resolving problems.It is however, assumed that
the relevant laws and regulations are duly
complied with.Three steps are involved1.
Analyze the consequences2. Analyze the
actions3. Make a decisionWhile the theories may
look conflicting at some stages, they actually
complement one another in practice. Each acts as
a check on the limitations of the other.
9
Secrecy, Confidentiality and Loyalty
  • The problem of protection of confidential
    information and the circumstances under which it
    is to be disclosed arises both in public and
    private capacities. The duty to tell the truth
    need to be qualified whether the person you are
    telling the truth is entitled to know it.
  • Gossip has some value in organizational cohesion,
    but those who engage in this, walk a thin line
    between passing on what is justifiable in the
    public domain (the weather, last nights episode
    in the disco, new policy for space allocation),
    or what one may know but not casually and
    promiscuously disclose (Xs marital problem, Ys
    alcoholism, Zs state of health)

10
Contd
  • It also matters how one came to be in possession
    of such information. Many social positions and
    occupations require one to be entrusted with
    information which one may not deal with as if one
    has learned it in a private capacity.
  • The confidentiality of medical report is near
    absolute can be made available to other medical
    person who may need this for further treatment or
    to the court of law.
  • Contractual, professional and moral obligations
    not to disclose specific information. Clearly,
    the organizations have the right to protect the
    information whose disclosure to the competitors
    may threaten its prosperity or survival (client
    list, industrial processes, management structures
    things coming under Intellectual Property Right
    IPR)

11
The two scenarios 1
  • Someone using skills and knowledge gained in one
    employment to be used to get a new job (AIS
    officers switching jobs during mid career, BBC /
    National Geographic ? CNN trained technicians go
    to a competitor). The law is very clear and
    distinguishes between confidential information,
    which is the property of the organization and can
    not be passed on to the new employer and the
    employees skills and knowledge which form a part
    of the employees ability which he or she is
    entitled to use for the furtherance of their
    careers.
  • Case of Rati Kanta Basu taking employment with
    STAR immediately after retirement from IAS (DG /
    Doordarshan)

12
Scenario 2 Whistle Blowing
  • The law is very clear in this the duty to
    respect confidentiality does not extend to cover
    the breaches of law or other wrongful actions,
    nor does it release an employee from a legal
    obligation to disclose information to the
    appropriate authority.
  • Though the law can protect the employee from
    immediate dismissal for whistle blowing, it can
    not protect him against loss of promotion, non
    renewal of contract or other forms of
    victimization. (A new law is in the offing for
    the protection of such whistle blowers.)

13
Resolving Dilemmas
  • The ethical dilemmas at work place are supposed
    to be product of the different roles that a
    manager is expected play simultaneously. However,
    should the ethical standards differ for the
    different role play? Most argue that the ethical
    standards should not be changed or ignored
    because the context has changed
  • Managers sometimes, try to rationalize their
    unethical behavior. In doing so they make a
    reflection on their own character than that of
    the organization
  • When the unemployment is high, people are more
    willing to bend the rules to keep their jobs.
    Social and organizational influences, therefore
    have significant impact on the ethical behavior.

14
Life Event Stress and Consequent Dilemmas
  • Life events stress are concerned with
    situational encounters and the importance that
    the person attaches to that event. It refers to
    our feelings that something of importance to us
    is being jeopardized by the events in our daily
    lives.
  • The most common events producing stress
    are, pressure to work hard, major events,
    vacation. Major stressors are deterioration of
    health of a family member, relocation at work,
    arguing with spouse etc. However, they are
    Culture Specific

15
Dilemmas of the college years
  • Clustering of life changes
  • Separation from parents
  • Reintegration Developing new relationships
  • Love and sex life
  • Daily hassles
  • Financial uncertainty
  • Grade pressure
  • Fear of failure / success
  • Role difficulties (role overload, role conflict,
    role strain, role ambiguity)
  • Life script, Identity formation and Career choice
  • Anticipating post college challenges (selecting
    and starting a career, adjusting to career
    changes, striving for financial security,
    preventing affluenza disease, living lightly on
    earth, creating stable and satisfying family,
    raising children, balancing work and family,
    dealing with blended families, adjusting to new
    work and community network, dealing with ethnic
    and racial diversity, coping with high tech
    demands, making time for exercises and relaxation
    etc )

16
Ethics, Economics and Law
  • The ethics of hardball
  • The cases of Toys R U and Child World
  • Home Depot Good Ethics or Shrewd Business
  • Business are economic organizations that
    operate within the framework of law and are
    critical to business decision making. But the
    view that they are only relevant considerations
    and that ethics does not apply is NOT TRUE. Even
    hard fought games like football have a code of
    sportsmanship in addition to the rule book.
  • A good test of moral point of view is whether
    we would feel comfortable if our colleagues,
    friends and family were to know about a decision
    e have made.

17
Advising Managers
  • Why the normal value of private life tend
    to break down or become ineffectual in business
    context, Nash offers five reasons
  • The analytical framework the managers adopt
  • The goals they set for themselves
  • The organizational structure they belong to
  • The language / methods they use to motivate
    others
  • Their personal assumptions about the intrinsic
    worth of other people
  • If ethical issues and concerns do not
    figure in any of the areas, then it is UNLIKELY
    that the organization will be fostering a climate
    in which the ethical behavior becomes the norm.

18
Dozen issues to encourage managers to be ethical
  1. Have you defined the problem accurately
  2. How would see this from the other side of the
    fence
  3. How did the situation occur in the first place
  4. To whom and to what you give your loyalty as a
    person
  5. What is your intention in making this decision
  6. Match your intention with the probable results
  7. Who is the decision going to injure
  8. Can you discuss the decision with the affected
    party before you make the decision
  9. Confident of the long term validity of the
    decision
  10. Can you share the decision with your loved ones
  11. What is the symbolic potential of your decision
    of your action if understood and / or
    misunderstood
  12. Under what circumstances would you allow
    exceptions to your stand

19
Unethical behavior some safeguards
  • Central Vigilance Commission
  • Fear of punishment
  • Ostracizing the corrupt
  • Healthy activism against corruption
  • Fighting organized crime
  • Good laws and timely enforcement
  • Protecting whistle blowers
  • Active media
  • Personal integrity
  • Conscience of and equality before law
  • Judicial activism
  • Target unethical conduct at the top
  • Reject unethical offers

20
Indian Wisdom and the Workplace
  • The Indian wisdom absorbs the supreme truth, the
    essentials of infinitude and holiness of the
    souls, the essential oneness and solidarity of
    the universe as expressed in the Upanishads Aham
    Brahamsmi.
  • Swami Vivekananda emphasized the idea of
    education and all training programs should be
    character building. Education is not the amount
    of information overload that runs riot in the
    brain, but should aspire to inculcate the habit
    of analysis, action and moral response. Atmano
    Mokshaya Jagat Hitaaya Cha Yagnayacharithartha
    karma Parasparam Bhavayanthu

21
Promoting Ethics at Workplace
  • Managers in most organizations strive to
    encourage ethical practices. The litmus test for
    the ethical practices are
  • The golden rule act as the way you would expect
    others to act towards you
  • The Utilitarian Principle act in a way that
    yields greater good for the largest number of the
    people
  • Situational but Natural action taken under
    circumstances could be universal law or behavior
  • Professional Ethics peer reviewed by
    professional
  • The TV test Can you share with a large audience
  • The Legal Test Should be in conformity with the
    laws
  • The four way test Is the decision truthful /
    fair / beneficial to all concerned / generate
    goodwill and foster friendship

22
Examples of Ethical Dilemmas -1
  • Your supervisor enters your office and asks you
    for a check for Rs.2500.00 for expenses he tells
    you he incurred entertaining a client last night.
    He submits receipts from a restaurant and lounge.
    At lunch, your supervisors girlfriend stops by
    to pick him up for lunch and you overhear her
    telling the receptionist what a great time she
    had at dinner and dancing with your supervisor
    the night before.
  • What do you do?

23
Examples contd. - 2
  • You have a student who is from a single parent
    family. The student must work to attend college.
    However, the job is interfering with the
    students performance and several assignments
    have not been turned in. You are determined that
    a D is all that the student can make when a
    counselor informs you that the student need a C
    to qualify for an academic scholarship.
  • What do you do?

24
References
  • The Ethical Organization -- Alan Kitson and
    Robert Campbell
  • Moral Courage R.M. Kidder
  • Ethics Thomas White
  • Business Ethics facing up the issues
  • Edited by Chris Moon and Clive Bonny
  • Why is Indian Business Interested in Ethics an
    article by N.Vittal, CVC (The Economic Times,
    19th Aug 1999)
  • An Ethical Organization The need of the day
    Article by N.R. Narayanmaurthy, (The Financial
    Express, Aug 10, 2002)
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