When making an ethical decision or coming forth in someone’s defense, consider the scenario and whether or not it leaves room for reasonable doubt or fails to provide necessary information to make the ethical decision. As a professional, I would need to convince those charging the individual that my words are reliable. In this scenario, I would need solid proof versus simply stating that I believe or I think the defendant is the wrong person. Without solid proof and evidence, I don’t have confidence that my words would hold up to whatever evidence was already presented. In addition, if an employee member came to me as a leader to express their concern on someone’s innocence, I would require evidence from them and could not base a decision off of an opinion without facts. If I were able to present a solid argument backed by evidence, then I would speak-up on the matter, considering it could be justified.
My response is dependent upon my position within the company and whether or not the company has a code of ethics system in place, which the scenario fails to present. As a respected leader, I would come forward considering my title and position would likely be respected and reliable. Reasons that I would be skeptical to come forward as an employee, laborer, or volunteer, are: no physical evidence, would not want to cause unjustifiable conflict, would hate to be wrong, I would not want to sour relationships, and there are no penalties for saying nothing.
No physical evidence to support me. I wouldn’t feel comfortable or feel that my words would be enough proof to cause a change. Without evidence, I wouldn’t feel optimistic. If I don’t feel optimistic about the outcome, or believe that my words are relevant, then I would have a hard time convincing others.
Would not want to cause conflict unjustifiably. If I create trouble by coming forward without evidence, I could cause even more conflict that creates more questions. Creating questions doesn’t solve problems. Unless I have answers or facts, I would not speak up.
Afraid to be wrong. I wouldn’t want to come forward just to find out that I was wrong. Being wrong will waste everyone’s time, and cause me to be a potential troublemaker.
I may lose relationships and trust. Being wrong will cause me to lose relationships with the friends I plan to get in trouble by my speaking up. Considering those relationships are important to me on a business and personal level, I would not want to ruin them unless I was certain and could prove my stance.
It will cost me nothing to say nothing. If I don’t speak up, I lose nothing personally outside of ethics. If I speak up, I may lose many more things including relationships and trust that are important to me on a business and personal level.
The reason for my not coming forward has nothing to do with whether or not I believe I should come forward. Ethically, I would love to come forward and assist in producing justice for someone and something that I believe in. My responses for not coming forward are based on what proof I can present, as well as my position within the company. In my career and life I have been right and wrong about many different situations. I have learned that if I want to present a plan of action to leaders of a company, I must present them with either facts or my professional opinion. Without proof or authority of power within my opinion, my action plan will not be justified as being a solid plan. The winning argument is oftentimes the one with the most power and not necessarily the best argument (Ivaniš, 2012).
The concern that would be preventing me from instantly making an ethical decision is the fact that this is a business setting. In such a setting, there are rules and conducts that I must adhere to. As a business employee, it is my responsibility to serve my leaders. By going outside of their request, it could be viewed as misconduct or unethical behavior if I have not properly disclosed my reasoning and evidence to support such act (Boatright, 2013). An ethical dilemma is a situation that has the potential to result in a breach of acceptable behavior (White, & Wooten, 1983).
Doing business ethically means to do business rationally (Ivaniš, 2012). Organizational ethics exists to prevent damages from lack of ethics (Ivaniš, 2012). Organizational ethics isn’t simply doing what’s right in an organization, it is doing what’s professional. Ethically, as a business professional, it would be unprofessional of me to come forward with a lack of information to support my cause. In order to be ethical in such a complex situation, I would have to act on my own consciousness as it is the most useful and reliable tool that I have (Ivaniš, 2012). Though the case would be coming to a close, I would not allow the pressure to cause me to come forward until I’m ready and with proof. Without properly understanding the code of ethics within the organization, questions would arise, such as, is the person acting in accordance to the legal regulations, is the person being responsible, and what is the potential positive and negative cost of being ethical (Ivaniš, 2012). With proper law and regulations in place, the ethical decision would be much easier to make.
If my coming forward could be done anonymously, I could remove a few of my reasons for not coming forward. I would like to be able to make the ethical decision. However, the scenario had many missing answers that could help me justify my reasoning. Without fully understanding the situation, I cannot say that I fully support coming forward with an assumption and without evidence.
To resolve my ethical dilemma within my organization in the future, the business that I work for must have proper business ethics and moral guidelines in place that would allow me to safely and anonymously report my peers and leaders. To prevent ignorance, the business should converse about ethics often, educate employees, monitor ethical behavior, and have documentation within the office that is available for all members of the organization (Ivaniš, 2012).
Bagozzi, R., Sekerka, L., & Hill, V. (2009). Hierarchial motive structures and their role in moral choices. Journal of Business Ethics, 90¸461-486.
Boatright, J. R. (2013). Confronting Ethical Dilemmas in the Workplace. Financial Analysts Journal. pp. 6-9.
Ivaniš, M. (2012). BUSINESS ETHICS – MORAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE MODERN COMPANY. Conference Proceedings: International Conference Of The Faculty Of Economics Sarajevo (ICES), 507-525.
White, L. P., & Wooten, K. C. (1983). Ethical Dilemmas in Various Stages of Organizational Development. Academy Of Management Review, 8(4), 690-697. doi:10.5465/AMR.1983.4284684
Dr. Elijah Clark (January 27, 2015). Applying Ethical Frameworks: The Concerns With Being Ethical. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://elijahclark.com/applying-ethical-frameworks-concerns-ethical/