|Ethical Dilemma 1
Human Resource Issues
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Ethical Dilemmas in Business
There are many areas where ethical dilemmas arise. Here are five categories of common
ethical dilemmas in business:
1. Human resource issues
2. Employee safety issues
3. Conflicts of interest
4. Customer confidence
5. Use of corporate resources
We shall discuss ethical dilemmas related to human resource issues here.
Human resource issues
Human is the most important resource to an organization. Issues associated with human
resources occur as a result of employees working together. These issues are by far the
largest category of ethical dilemmas in business.
The four main types of human resource issues are as follows:
• Hiring and Termination Issues
Recruitment or hiring process is the first step in selecting human resource into an
organization, and will significantly influence the successful performance of the organization.
Ethics plays a very important role during the recruitment of new employees. Law and
regulations dictate that we have to be ethical in hiring. However, ethical hiring practice goes
beyond them as well. It has been widely reported by many researchers that ethical hiring
practices actually result in better employees being recruited.
It is therefore important that sound ethical rules are followed when hiring a new employee.
It is of vital importance that candidates are to be selected based on merits. Applicants are
to be hired based purely on merits such as knowledge, skills, and ability in accordance to the
needs of the organization.
If a company provides any special considerations, for example affirmative action, where
certain groups are given special considerations, these considerations should be well stated
in the company's policy statement. In any case, any preferential treatment should be one
that is legally allowed.
While preferential treatments to certain specific group may be allowed, there should be no
discrimination to people from any other group due to race, religion, gender, marital or even
Consistency and objectivity during the recruitment process are very important. Criteria,
including any changes in the criteria, used for evaluating candidates should be stated and
explained to order to avoid unnecessary claim of biasness in the recruitment process.
Objective evaluation results in the best employees being recruited while consistency ensures
high morale among employees.
When we recruit new employees, we should tell the applicants about the true state of the
organization. We should not mislead the applicants. In particular, the applicants should be
told all pertinent information, including those information that are not publicly known but that
will materially affect the new employee's future employment prospect with the organization.
We can learn from the case involving Phil McConkey. Phil McConkey was recruited but he was
not aware that the company was in the process of being taken over by another entity. One
year after joining the company he lost his job with he new company. He sued the company
for with-holding important information from me during the recruitment process. He won the
case and was awarded $10 million.
We should never place misleading job advertisement in order to get applications if we are
offering a job contract different from what we advertised for. For instance, if we want to
engage independent contractors instead of normal salaried employment. The reason why
we choose to engage independent contractors is that we do not have to be burdened with
high salary cost for employees that are not competent, but we are willing to compensate
employees according to performance. We should always state clearly our terms of
employment. In any case, we do not want to be accused of any job scam.
We have to be extra careful when we are recruiting employees from organizations that have
material dealing with us include our suppliers, customers and competitors. If we are not
careful ethical issues very damaging to us can arise.
When we employ somebody from our suppliers, the suppliers may feel that we have
unethically poached their good employee. After all, it is through the working relationship we
have with the suppliers that we can to know the quality of this employee.
When we employ somebody from our customers we can be accused of returning favor to that
person. This rule applies especially when employing a former senior government employee
that has an influence on the awards of contracts to an organization like yours. The case of
Ms. Darleen Druyun at the Department of Defense and Mr. Michael Sears at Boeing is a good
illustration of the importance of such a rule. In this case, employment favor was apparently
granted by Boeing in exchange for favorable consideration for the awards of contracts by
Department of Defense. Also, be careful not to employ former government employees for the
purpose of lobbying for contracts from their previous government departments. At least, do
not do so within the first two years of the employee leaving the government service.
It is also not very wise to employ somebody from our competitors because we can be
accused of stealing trade secrets from our competitors. If that employee can pass on his
previous employer's secrets unethically, what is there to sop him from passing your trade
secrets to others?
Even though it may not be considered as unethical by some employers, as a matter of
courtesy and good public relationship to inform an unsuccessful applicant.
When an employee is asked to leave, it is also of vital importance that it is handled with
fairness and care. If it is a case of poor performance or disciplines, the employee has to be
given prior warning (unless it is violation of a well stated policy or is of a very serious nature)
and fair hearing. In any case, do not hurt the dignity of the employee and offer to provide
the necessary assistance where appropriate.
Before an employee leave for any reason, provide him/her with an opportunity to provide
feedback on the overall state of the organization by conducting exit interviews.
• Discrimination is the unfair or preferential treatment of a person on the basis of one or
more uncontrollable characteristics, including race, gender, age, color, religion, or national
origin, as well as handicapped or pregnancy status.
Discrimination against others in the workplace can impair your ability to perform your job
according to company expectations.
In most countries, there are laws that protect potential and current employees from
discrimination based on age, race, color, national origin, religion, and gender, as well as
pregnancy or handicapped status.
• Performance Appraisals are conducted to evaluate an employee’s performance over a set
period of time.
When evaluating subordinates, one has to remain consistent and objective. Consistency is
even more important when evaluating an existing employee than a prospective employee.
Consistency requires that you treat every employee's misbehaviour the same way. For
example, it would be wrong to punish one employee's tardiness while leaving another
employee's tardiness unchecked.
In order to maintain objectivity, the company’s standardized evaluation forms should be
used. In this way, uniform criteria can be used for the appraisal of all employees under you.
Also, all employees in the company are evaluated based on the same criteria.
Constant feedback and communication between you and your subordinates is necessary to
facilitate a positive and productive working relationship. Don’t wait until periodic performance
evaluations to express your observations and suggestions. In fact, it is unethical to base
salary adjustments upon performance problems that have not been brought to the employee’
For employees being evaluated, honesty and acceptance of responsibility for performance
problems are important ethical considerations.
• Disciplinary issues
Disciplining employees is one of the most difficult parts of a manager’s job. Nevertheless, it
is vital to the growth and overall success of the organization.
Disciplining employees both ensures productivity and sets standards for the future.
Discipline should occur immediately after a problem has occurred. It is imperative that the
disciplinary actions remain consistent for all employees.
A serious disciplinary issue is sexual harassment where female employees (less so for male
employees) are subjected to an unwanted sexual behavior that creates an intimidating or
hostile work environment. This includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual
favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. This conduct is not only
unethical, but illegal as well.
|Courses on Ethics
Here are some of the useful courses on Ethics that you may wish to consider signing up for:
Corporate Governance and Ethics
This online course on Corporate Control and Governance employs a stakeholder
management framework, emphasizing business' social and ethical responsibilities to both
internal and external stakeholders. A twin theme of business ethics demonstrates how
ethical or moral considerations have to be included when dealing with the public issues
facing organizations and during the decision-making process. This novel and innovative
program teaches companies and professionals how to lessen fraud losses as well as how to
effectively eliminate future frauds. This ethics course offers comprehensive coverage of fraud
detection, fraud warning signs, technological fraud detection tools, investigation techniques
(especially useful to auditors, security personnel, and managers), financial statement
screening, fraud risk in e-commerce, pro-active fraud risk and much more.
Ethics and Values - for Social Workers
There are questions of values and ethics everywhere in life. Each of us has his or her views
of what is right or wrong, or what is of greater inportance, hence having higher priority. We
usually do not consider ourselves as beginners when we deal with this topic of what we
consider as right or wrong. This course is an introduction to the topic, but new questions
and dilemmas related to ethics and values will arise in every piece of work you undertake as
a social worker.
The functions of an ethics program are stated, ethics defined, and general characteristics of
the ethics program listed. Identify ethical standards for fairness and honesty, precise record
keeping, and complying with antitrust regulations. Identify ethical standards for giving and
receiving gifts, gratuities, and entertainment with customers and suppliers, government and
non-government personnel, and foreign officials. Identify standards for managing conflicts of
interest, financial standards, including preservation of assets, restrictive trade practices,
intellectual properties, and employee relations. Recognize the duty to comply with and report
suspected ethical violations, what disciplinary action could result from failure to comply with
or report violations, and how to raise ethical concerns and seek additional counsel.
Recognize the relevanc of ethics principles through learning from case studies.
Ethical Issues for Bankers
Ethical Issues for Bankers prepares students to meet the ethical standards expected of
financial services professionals. Students will learn the general guidelines that determine
banking ethics, gain the knowledge and skills needed to perform ethical decision-making,
and be prepared to observe their institution's code of conduct and Federal laws. Students
will also explore typical ethical dilemmas that tend to occur in financial institutions, and learn
how to apply a thoughtful three-step approach to such dilemmas."
Ethics - Standards of Professional Conduct : Especially suitable for Engineers.
Many organizations, particularly smaller businesses, do not have a written set of standards
to provide guidance to their employees on ethical matters related to their job duties. While
each job title, company and industry deals with unique circumstances, there are some
standards of professional conduct for engineers that are considered the norm across a broad
range of job titles, companies and even industries. In matters such as conflicts of interest,
use and protection of employer's assets, and disclosure of proprietary information, there are
universal standards of accepted conduct for engineers working for employers based in
developed countries (although the detailed policies may vary between companies).
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has developed a document titled "Standards
of Professional Conduct" for its members. In addition to the aforementioned examples of
ethical issues, the ASCE's standards cover issues such as maintaining accurate and complete
records, outside employment/activities, acceptance of bribes or kickbacks and whistle
blowing. The ASCE's standards serve as an excellent model for companies seeking to provide
guidance to engineers on ethical matters related to their position and the performance of
their work tasks. It also provides a universal set of principles to guide individual engineers
on ethical matters in the absence of an employer policy.
In this course, the student will be directed to ASCE's website to review the ASCE document
titled "Standards of Professional Conduct".
The student must take a multiple-choice quiz consisting of fifteen questions at the end of this
course to earn PDH credits.
|Brought to you by Jacob Gan, PhD (Michigan)