Business Ethics -- Dilemmas?
Ask: Are these cases of one right versus another right? Or something else?
- I was working as a lawyer and was asked to do a simple termination of lease for a client's expatriate employee. As part of this simple process the employee asked me to help them with an insurance claim. The employee's goods had been lost in transit back to Country W. My simple investigations as to what was in the lost container and the value of the lost goods indicated to me that the claim was fraudulent. I was in a difficult position as I could not prove anything. The insurance company also thought the claim might be fraudulent and refused to honour it. The employee asked me to pursue the matter vigorously. I was quite young and inexperienced and was unsure how to say no, eventually I went to my boss and confessed the matter. My boss told me to leave it with her and assured me I did not have to do any further work on the matter. I later found out that my boss had helped the employee and the claim was paid in part. The employee in question now sits on the Executive of one of Country W's top 100 companies.
No dilemma. Don't collude in fraud.
- I was working as a trainer for my company in Country X. We had strict guidelines for assessment, and those trainees not meeting the pass mark were released from the company. However, I had one trainee who was the son of a powerful politician in Country X and he was not doing well. I was politely encouraged by my manager to try to get him through. However, when that didn't seem possible due to his complete lack of ability, my manager gave him a warning. Then my manager was told by a very high up manager in the company to "pass that guy". So, at the end of the day, I was told that, "you don't have to, but many people in the company need him to pass. Many contracts will be lost if he doesn't pass". However, I felt that I would be disrespecting the rest of the trainees if they had a different bar to achieve. How could I pass this one trainee, but fail others who had the same level of achievement? That was my dilemma.
I got out of having to solve it by transferring to a different location before the decision had to be made. But at the end of the day, he did pass the class.
Right thing to do, but coercion involved, and this creates a kind of "dilemma": there is no way to do the right thing by the employer without doing the wrong thing by others.
- To confront or not to?
The issue that I was faced with occurred at the hotel in Country Y where I was working. I was asked to head a restaurant which was going through a bad patch due to high staff turnover. Part of the problem was due to bad management and apathy of the earlier chef, and partly due to the extremely busy nature of operations, which dictated that the staff was working on average about 70 hours a week. Things were chaotic and staff morale had reached abysmal levels.
During this time I had managed to understand that there was a deep divide between the "management" and the staff. One of the senior supervisors was a very talented person, who was highly respected by the rest of the team. This person, however, was not viewed upon favourably by the senior management, for a variety of reasons that were not professionally related. I managed to build a great rapport with him; the relationship and trust that I established with him eventually turned out to be the cornerstone behind my success in turning around the fortunes (and work culture) of the restaurant. I must also credit this successful stint to the two quick promotions that I later received.
The mentioned person had a problem. He was away from his wife, and consequently missed her presence terribly. As a result, he would occasionally take leave under the pretext of being sick and fly to his home country (just a couple of hours away). He was also showing signs of pilfering small things from the hotel, which he would later distribute to people outside the hotel. This obviously did not escape my attention.
I was particularly keen on improving the department's disciplinary record; the cause was however not being served well due to his ongoing behaviour. I knew that I had to tackle his behaviour as a first step before spreading out my broader program. I was faced with a tough issue -- on the one hand this person was principally responsible for the changes that I brought about in the restaurant while on the other he was beginning to slip on the disciplinary front, something that was very crucial in implementing the second stage of the program.
What would be the right way for me to tackle this person? Should I report his actions, or should I just talk to him? Would he be antagonised and refuse to participate in the operations considering he was such an important cog in the wheel?
This is a personal dilemma i.e. in terms of your objectives. It's not a moral dilemma: more having the strength to confront him.
- A small highly performing outsourcing company (or any small business) -- can't afford severance package.
Someone has been hired who is not working out (generally doesn't mean they are a bad person, just out of their depth). Either you have to speak to them and leave yourself open to legal action or "manage" them out which is an extremely stressful operation for all concerned.
Why is this an ethical dilemma?
- At my work place, I handled a project which had been handed over by other colleagues. After I took over the project, I found that some colleagues were involved in a dishonest matter: it happened that one client-serving colleague gave instruction to colleagues in other departments to do something dishonestly. Although those colleagues from the other departments who were involved in the issues were unwilling to do so, they didn't have authority to stop the client-serving colleague and also did not have the courage to report the matter to the higher level. However, since I was the one who had taken over the project, I didn't want to let the problem become bigger and bigger. I told my boss and my boss encouraged all the colleagues involved to speak up, and at the end, we knew most of the 'truth'. We didn't want to cover up the matter. However, the most challenging part was how should we tell the client.
A problem. Confront the client.
- Should companies market unhealthy food products directly towards children (i.e. chips, lollies, fast food, coco pops)?
- The other day I was watching "Discovery channel" and they presented a story about an Air France airplane hijacked by Muslim fundamentalists in Algeria in December of 1994. The terrorists wanted to get to Paris to have a "conference with international news media (CNN, BBC, etc)" (or so they said). The Algerian authorities did not wanted to let the plane take off and the terrorists started to kill passengers. Every hour or so, they killed one. After two or three deaths they got the permit to take off with the condition of not killing anyone else. The plane did not have enough fuel to get to Paris and could only get to Marseilles. The plan was to get there to refuel the plane and then flight to Paris. Before the plane arrived to Marseilles, the French government received some information about the "true" purpose of the terrorists: they wanted to crash the plane in the Eiffel Tower. The government tried to deceive the terrorists by saying that all the media was in Marseilles waiting for them, so they did not have to fly to Paris. The terrorist were not convinced and starting killing people again. At this point the government faced an ethical dilemma: refuel the plane and prevent the deaths of more passengers (and bear the risk of a plane crashing in the middle of Paris) or decide not to accede to the terrorist demands (and let more passengers die).
A problem, not a dilemma.
- In a professional service environment, the client may technically be a company whilst advice services are provided to individual employees. What may be good for the company may not be good for the individual employees. In providing advice, to what extent should that advice specifically make employees aware that it may contain negative aspects for them whilst benefitting the company?
Need more details.