Each day, companies’ managements are faced with various ethical dilemmas in different departments of managements ranging from managing corporate ethical decisions to the management of employees who are critical to the company but difficult to deal with in various aspects. It has emerged that unethical behavior among employees in companies is increasingly becoming a serious problem for these companies or organizations (Jackson, 2004). In this scenario, Chris is in dilemma on how to deal with one of the dishonest regional managers, David, who seems to be smart enough to carry out his bad behaviors discreetly.
Other than giving up or getting used to David’s wayward behaviors of doing things or accusing him of dishonesty, Chris is also in dilemma of whether to come up with random monitoring and searches of employees in order to restore desired ethical behavior (Jackson, 2004). However, it is acknowledged that such an act would mean going against individual employee privacy hence interfering with the common good of the company (Crossen, 1993).
In Kohlberg’s development scale, this kind of behavior could be placed under level three (Post-conventional Morality) that is comprised of stage five (Social Contract and Individual Rights) and Stage Five (Universal Principles) (Rothman& Scott, 2004, P.147). In the social contract and Individual Rights stage, individuals become sensitive and account for the differences between their values, opinions, and beliefs and those of other people they interact with (Rothman& Scott, 2004). In organizations like the one in this case study, it has been realized that individuals are distinct entities who have separate opinions and ideas on different issues. This is true since individual opinions may take precedence over that of the organization, hence they end up disobeying the rules that they feel are inconsistent with their personal principles or those that goes against what they believe in. Basically, these particular individuals have abstract idea about what’s right and wrong, considering such rights as justice. At this level, one thinks of self before others, consequently viewing rules as though important but changeable aspects of the society.
In handling such a colleague, it is important to put in place the aspect of respecting each other. The principle of obeying law can be negated if the law is deemed unjust, especially if it gives others leeway to act unfavorably against others. Generally, decisions at this stage are not reached by at individual level but are deliberated by a team. Furthermore, they are not hypothetical decisions but factual decisions based on the categorical principle of unanimous agreement. The group decision is based on the consensus on action and implementation, leading to its being classified as an end rather than a means.
The theoretical picture of this reasoning is based on Kohlberg’s belief that humans basically communicative creatures who have the capacity to reason, and have the desire to understand their fellow humans as well as their surroundings (Rothman& Scott, 2004, P.149). It therefore means that Chris should have a strategy to qualitatively reason morally, and not putting blames on David’s character or behaviors, thus ending up with moral reasoning and not a definite moral conclusions.
Asbestos case study
The use of bankruptcy law and the question of adequacy
There is an increasing concern of the legitimacy as well as adequacy of the seemingly popular application of bankruptcy laws in their effort to compensate for the harm they create through their actions or in their production process. Asbestos companies have increasingly applied this strategy in order to move in tandem with the corporate ethics.
Even though bankruptcy laws is considered a good step in the asbestos case, it is realized that settling the matter just by following the law may seem satisfactory at face value at initial stages. However, in reality, the lack of commitment by the companies like T&N evidently show that all they were interested in is to ensure the interest of the company and the share holders overrides that of the community and even the employees. According to Crossen (1993) the fact that the company refused to carry responsibility at early stages is enough to suggest that they had no interest to be moral to the employees who got affected from the asbestos poisoning. Secondly, it was noticed that the company did not express its sense of shame and guilty for their long-time denial of the fact that asbestos was dangerous to the employees and the community members in general. If T&N had felt ashamed and expressed a sense of guilt, they could have shown it by continuing to support or monitoring the progress of the asbestos victims.
Again, simply bankrupting the company may not be effective as it would mean that the company would lose its status hence denying the people who would wish to make claims in the future for the damages they underwent.
The division of responsibility of liability and damage
The first step towards the sharing of the responsibility is by disclosing the information to the stakeholders. For example, the fact that T&N kept all the information secret made it quite difficulty for the directors to acknowledge the allegations against the company. If only the secrets had been exposed to everyone around the whole industry, very minimal number of workers would have been compensated highly, shareholders would have shared reduced profits and thus a search for alternative would have taken place within the industry. Because the company shareholders benefited from the profits of injustice to the employees and the consumers, they should carry the burden of all cost of compensation. By dissolving the company or making it bankrupt, it is important to realize that the shareholders will lose all the benefits, if that would help compensate the harmed groups. It is advisable that the compensation becomes broader than just financial aspect, and ensuring that other companies don’t repeat the similar mistake. According to some business ethicists, it is always important to adopt some of the most critical decisions such as naming and shaming the company by the government by making their activities public. Through this the government will lose taxes, the shareholders will not earn dividends, and if the company is dissolved the managers will be rendered jobless.
Responsibility of the management in unethical act and how the company can be punished
It is important to acknowledge that sometimes the act of secrecy meted by the management is the cause of all the ignorance. It is evident that management of T&N managed to keep all in the dark, including stakeholders. In case the information was given to the entire industry, a smaller workforce would have been employed and paid well considering the nature and risk that involve the jobs in such a company.
Since a company can never be taken to jail as would have been done to an individual, it is advisable that the most effective way to handle such a case is to ensure the company is named and ashamed publicly so that all the stakeholders, most importantly customers, are made aware of these unethical conduct by the company.
Responsibilities of exporting governments and companies
In practice, the case of T&N extended to other countries where they had subsidiary companies manufacturing asbestos. Other areas where they exported asbestos also suffered similar effects just like the parent country of the company. Practically, the companies and the exporting countries should protect all their customers and workers all over the world who could be in contact with the asbestos products. By doing this, the company or the country is extending the overall goal of corporate responsibility to their export destination.
Tax conviction and employee’s suitability
There is recent concern on the business ethics over the employees past criminal offence backgrounds. In most instances, it has emerged that many employers tend to compromise on some of the employees’ conducts, especially when these actions do not infringe on the company’s benefits. Such cases are like employee evading tax. However, ethically this should carry an equal amount of punishment as one who has been found guilty of cheating his or her way into job. My reasoning is that if an employee would be able to evade income tax, then he or she is capable of cheating his or her way to the company’s top. This can be explained by what some scholar described as ethical egoism, which illustrates that good behavior for the company is only important where the such behaviors enhances organizational performance in long term.
In appraising such an employee, it is critical to establish the employee’s background to ensure if that has been a recurrent thing or just an isolated case. Ethical judgment demands that the employee is given chance to explain himself or herself in an organized manner, where communication is put in away that all the parties have autonomy to speak up their mind. The most important issue in this case is that the employee was so open and honest to disclose what other applicants could not have revealed. In essence, some employees may fail to reveal the truth because of fear of being embarrassed or fear of punishment.
Applicant convicted with robbery with violence
Ethical considerations during recruitment are very critical aspect of the process. In a company or an organization, it is always important to certify that the employees recruited have good reputation on both personal and interpersonal conducts. If a yet to be recruited employee has a tarnished background like robbery with violence, he or she is likely bring the tarnished reputation to the company if recruited. According to Jackson (2004), it is critical for recruitment panel to know that perceptions are actually real in the sense that employees image is reflective of what the company stands for. The background of the employee will determine the direction the employer takes in terms of relating to trading partners as well as clients. It is therefore an open secret that hiring an employee with criminal background is not an option, as it is more like destroying the company image.
Crossen, Bryon (1993), Managing employee unethical behavior without invading individual privacy, Journal of Business and Psychology, Vol.8, No. 2. pp. 112-118.
Jackson, Kevin (2004), Building Reputational Capital, New York, NY, Oxford University Press.
Rothman, Howard & Scott, Mary (2004), Companies With A Conscience. Denver, CO, MyersTempleton.