Before we step into details of ethical dilemmas in business, let’s start with the definition. In simple terms, business ethics are a standard for how businesses should be conducted and are also called professional ethics. Now, it is essential that all companies, institutes and organizations maintain a certain benchmark of ethics to deal with the ‘dilemmas’ that are incidental to businesses. There may be some challenges which are applicable to certain industries only but most of them are universal and affect all types of working class professionals and their environments. To make it easier, ethical dilemmas in business are categorized as: human resources issues, employee safety issues, conflicts of interest, customer confidence and use of corporate resources. All the mentioned types must be treated with equal attention. Scandals in the business world are becoming increasingly detrimental for growth, hence every employee and employer must learn about the nature of ethical dilemmas and ways of dealing with them. There might not be a certified ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way of handling but the way it is done says a lot about the business itself. Read on for a general preview.
Business Ethical Dilemmas
There are three questions you need to ask yourself as an employer before hiring someone. One, is it legal and in accordance with the company and civil laws? Two, does it seem like a balanced decision that keeps in mind fairness and creates a win-win situation for the organization and the employee? Three, is it right i.e. how does it make you feel and what do you think other employers would do in your position? With these examples of a business ethical dilemma, it will be easier to understand what we’re talking about.
An employer X has been running a consulting business for a long time and needs to hire a person to help her manage it. She does several interviews and finally employs a candidate Y for the job who is asked to start work from the following week. In the mean time, X gets a call from her friend who recommends her Z – an extremely talented and deserving person for the job. Although X refuses, her friend insists. Z comes in with the perfect resume and is liked by the employer. Now, what? Dilemma lies in choosing someone who is best for the business or someone who ethically has the first say.
The solution to the above issue can be handled by referring to the three basic questions of ethical dilemmas in business.
Is it legal? There are two ways to look at this. If Y has already resigned from her previous job, it makes it legal for the company to hire her and because she has already been made the offer, the company is actually legally bound to make good the offer. If Y is still a part of her old job, then there is ambiguity on her employment by X.
Is it balanced? Yes. It is technically right for Y to start working but it might not necessarily be a win-win situation for both since Z can bring better business for the company compared to Y.
Is it right? It is right to employ Y as the word has already been given about her joining date and hiring her can make the employer X feel that she’s doing the correct thing.
A new technology is being launched which is good for the company as well as the clients. But, if this is brought into use, a lesser man-power is required for the organization. The entrepreneur is now in an ethical dilemma whether he wants to better his clients with good services or be loyal to his employees who have helped the company grow. The unpleasantness of the situation arises when neither the clients nor the employees deserve to suffer and it is the entrepreneur’s call to take.
The three questions are again brought into the picture here
Is it legal? This decision needs to be cross checked with the company seniors and policies. Both can be legally correct, depending upon the agreement that the firm has with its employee union.
Is it balanced? A win-win situation is attainable if the new technology adopted by the entrepreneur benefits the clients and business. Afterall, what matters in the end are profits and customer satisfaction.
Is it right? Desperate times call for desperate decisions. There is nothing wrong about growing and automating your firm. Technological backwardness cannot lead you anywhere hence adopting the technology here will not be a wrong choice. However, the employer must take steps to mobilize his human resources and transfer them to other areas to maintain his/her reputation – the company’s goodwill might suffer a major setback in the job market owing to the mass retrenchment.
These two examples are typical business ethical dilemmas. Some decisions in business, as in life, are extremely difficult to take but remember – you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do – there’s no indecisive way out of such dilemmas!