Categories of ethical dilemmas in business

Posted for the first time in Exchange, the magazine of the Brigham Young University School of Business, the following twelve categories have been developed to cover the root or cause of most of the ethical dilemmas that may be encountered in their work. I summarized them to keep them short and simple.

1. Take things that do not belong to you

Everything from removing highlighters from the storage room to sending personal mail via the mailroom to downloading unauthorized games on your work computer falls into this category. A financial director of a large company took a taxi from the airport to his home town. When he asked for a receipt from the taxi driver, he was handed a complete book of blank receipts. Apparently, this dilemma of accurately accounting for business expenses involves more than one employee.

2. To say that things you know are not true

When a car salesman insists on a customer to report that a used car has not been involved in a previous accident, a violation of the ethic happened. When an employee in a store assures a customer that the product has a money back guarantee, when only rework is allowed, another breach of ethics occurs (and possibly a violation of the law) .

3. Give or allow false impressions

There is an urban legend in which 2 CDs were sold on a televised infomercial claiming that all 1980s hits were on CDs. Advertising information has repeatedly stressed that all songs were performed by the original artists. When they received the CDs, they discovered, after a thorough inspection, that all the songs had been taken over by a band called The Original Artists. Although technically true, the impression given by the advertising information was false.

4. Buying influence or conflict of interests

When a company awards a construction contract to an organization owned by the Attorney General's brother or when a county committee charged with choosing a new road construction company travels into the state looking for roads at the expense of one of the bidders, a conflict of interest may arise and affect the results of that choice.

5. Hide or disclose information

The fact of not disclosing the results information of a study on the safety of a new product, or choosing to use the exclusive product information of your company on a new job, is a example in this category.

6. Enjoy an unfair advantage

Have you ever wondered why there seem to be so many product safety rules and procedures? It is mainly the result of laws adopted by government institutions to protect consumers from companies that have previously benefited from them because of their lack of knowledge or the complexity of their contractual obligations.

7. Committing acts of personal decadence

Over time, it has become increasingly evident that acts committed by employees outside of work can have a negative effect on the image of a company. This is one of the main reasons why companies minimize interactions or social events outside the office, so that events related to drugs or alcohol can not be traced.

8. To perpetuate interpersonal abuse

At the heart of this category of ethical misconduct are abuses committed on employees through sexual harassment, flogging, or public humiliation by a business leader.

9. Allow Organizational Abuse

When an organization chooses to operate in another country, this sometimes hits the social culture in which child labor, degrading work environments or excessive hours are needed. It is at this stage that the leaders of society have the choice … to perpetuate or mitigate this abuse.

10. Violate the rules

In some cases, individuals or organizations violate the rules to speed up a process or decision. In many of these cases, the results would have been the same regardless, but by breaking the rules or procedures required for this result, they could potentially damage the reputation of the organization for which they work.

11. Condemn actions contrary to the ethic

Suppose you are at work one day and you notice that one of your colleagues uses a petty cash for personal purchases and you do not report it. Maybe you know that a new product under development poses security problems, but you do not talk. In these examples, not doing well does harm.

12. Balancing ethical dilemmas

What about a situation that would be considered neither good nor bad? What should be done here? Should Google or Microsoft do business in China when human rights violations are committed on a daily basis? Sometimes an organization has to reconcile the need to do business with the ethical dilemmas that may arise from doing business.

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