In today’s letter I would like to address the issue of Ethical Decision Making. Every one of you may think “Why should we even care about ethics today?” or “So why worry about making ethical choices? We make them automatically and often unconsciously as we five our lives. Why is it important to think about them now?”
The idea that corporations have a social responsibility is now widely accepted by global business and the public at large. (Hoffman and Kamm, 1994) One of the major challenges of nowadays is ethical breakdown that we all face with. In the past, ethics have been left to the philosophers, but now in many professions codes of ethics have been created in order to provide guidelines for employees and employers on what to do in different situations.
As professionals we need to think about ethical questions in our everyday business activity and find new ways to understand and resolve the ethical conflicts we encounter at our work place. The appliance of the ethics in business means that first of all we need to be able to moral values more carefully and to understand more fully the reasons that underlie, develop capacity for moral reasoning by learning to sort out all of the arguments that bear upon moral problems and apply them to concrete work situations. (Sims, 2002)
The following rules and procedures that guide is through the business ethics (they are known as codes of ethics) are applicable to each profession. They define the basic principles of making the right ethical choices in the certain professional field:
• Organizational or corporate codes of ethics
• Professional codes of ethics
• Industry codes of ethics
• Program or group codes of ethics
In the workplace ethical dilemmas are influenced by the type of setting, as well as by the approach we use. The key factors that may influence your ethical decision making:
• Our corporate culture (which is formalized in our code of ethics);
• The type and size of our organization (because people in sole proprietorships and small partnerships or companies face a very different environment than those in large organizations);buy essay
• Your profession or role (there are vast differences between those in sales, research, management, production, and creative development);
• Your power or status (these factors are often key influences on employees)
• Local influences from one’s own company or professional group.
There is always an ethical dilemma, such as “What to do?” Should one take it? Play along to survive? Quit? The ethical dimension comes into play when one acts or considers acting to break the rules, and in some cases, seeks revenge for a perceived mistreatment. (Scott, 1998)
I would like you to use the major ethical approaches suggested by Scott (1998) in your everyday work and private lives (there is no doubt that making of ethical decisions is crucial for all of the spheres of your life):
• “Looking to moral principles, in other words, deciding what’s right and wrong, by using morality, which provides a code of general principles and rules for action;
• Applying moral strategies;
• Evaluating the situation-deciding what’s fitting or not fitting by following the appropriate rules, or using situational ethics to fit the particular circumstances;
• Following your intuition;
• Following the pleasure or power principle
• Seeking the greater good (choosing what will help the most people)” (Scott, 1998)
There is also an issue of individual versus organizational conflicts. These involve the conflict between doing what benefits the individual or what seems right from an altruistic point of view versus doing what is considered more practical and efficient to benefit the organization. The problem for the individual in the organization is whether to go along with the organizational rules and policies (the team player approach) or whether to do make the personal choice. This individual/organization, self/other, and moral/practical split recurs again and again in different settings.
Our employees can use whatever style they prefer: rational, intuitive or a combination, to decide whether to put individual or organizational goals first. Then the decision depends on various factors, including: one’s overall ethical approach, financial considerations, the importance of keeping one’s position in the organization, the importance of the issue, the degree to which the organization’s goal seems morally right or wrong, and the support of others in the organization for one’s view.
One key to resolving the uncertainty about what is or isn’t ethical behavior is being aware of the different ethical approaches we use. This way we can better understand our choices when we are in a difficult conflict or decision-making situation. Also, we can better understand the viewpoint of someone else with whom we are having a conflict. Then, being more informed, we can better work together to resolve any conflicts. (Scott, 1998)
Today, many disputes and misunderstandings occur because people come from different backgrounds and groups, with a variety of ways of looking at the world, including preferred styles of making ethical choices. We should remember that what we consider wrong, bad, or unsuitable behavior may be perfectly acceptable from someone else’s perspective. (Scott, 1998)
Because of this potential conflict when individual and organizational goals collide, we have created mission and vision statements to produce a greater alignment between individual and organizational goals, and to express a renewed commitment to a moral vision.
Hoffman, W.M. and Kamm, J.B. (1994) Emerging Global Business Ethics. Quorum Books. Westport, CT.
Scott, G.G. (1998) Making Ethical Choices, Resolving Ethical Dilemmas. Paragon House: St. Paul, MN.
Sims, R.R. (2002) Teaching Business Ethics for Effective Learning. Quorum Books: Westport, CT.
Warren, B.W. and Rosenthal, D. (2006) Teaching Business Ethics – Is It a Lost Cause? International Journal of Management.23 (3). p. 679