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Ethical Decision Making Essay Research Paper Chapter

Ethical Decision Making Essay, Research Paper Chapter One Case Study Debbie Richardson is in her fourth year at Lamb Consulting and has recently been approached by Susan Gatewick, a project manager for Bob Hachet. Susan confided to

Ethical Decision Making Essay, Research Paper

Chapter One Case Study

Debbie Richardson is in her fourth year at Lamb Consulting and has recently been

approached by Susan Gatewick, a project manager for Bob Hachet. Susan confided to

Debbie that when she first came to Lamb Consulting she began going to lunch with Bob

and frequently spoke with him about personal issues in both of their lives. Bob would give

Susan neck rubs and tell her that she was beautiful and Susan returned the compliments.

Slowly the relationship began to change and Bob put his hand on her leg at lunch and then

two weeks later he had put his hands all over her. When Susan confronted Bob about

being uncomfortable with what was happening he looked confused and angry.

After hearing the recent events Debbie informed Susan that as a member of

management she was obligated to report what she had been told. Lamb Consultant?s code

of conduct states: ?Any member of management hearing in the first person of any remarks,

actions, or physical activities that could be construed as sexual harassment or contributing

to a hostile work environment must report such information to the proper authorities or be

subject to penalties, sanctions, dismissal, and/or go without legal representation afforded

by Lamb in any civil or criminal suit developed by such information.? After hearing what

the code included Susan became upset because if this incident was reported it was known

in the company that Bob could hold a grudge

To make matters worse Debbie began to think about the stories she had heard of

women not being hired by companies to reduce the possibility of sexual harassment. Later

in the day Debbie ran into Bob who proceeded to tell her that he had heard that someone

in the company was making waves and that he was going to talk to his supervisor (a

woman). Bob also hinted that if Debbie stood up for this person that he would also drag

her down. Debbie thought about how Jessica (their supervisor) had dealt harshly with the

last woman that filed a sexual harassment report. There are many issues that effect the

decision that Debbie will have to make.

The ethical issues in this case are really very simple, but also very intense. Ethical

intensity as discussed in class is the importance of an ethical issue to an individual or

group (pg. 97). Sexual harassment is a very debilitating form of harassment and can

decrease the rate of work within a company, which makes the intensity very high. Does

Debbie uphold her company policy and turn in what she has been told, or does she keep in

confidence what a fellow employee has confided in her? I believe that there is another

ethical issue in the code of conduct that the company follows. Susan should be able to

confide in someone and then try to deal with the problem on her own. If she is not ready

to deal with a legal battle, then I believe that she has the right not to have the problem

filed. Talking to management took this right away from Susan, but I still believe that she

has that right. Debbie has a social responsibility to report what has been done so other

women may also feel that they can stand-up against sexual harassment (pg.. 6).

Debbie and Susan are both facing conflict of interest. Conflict of interest as

described in the textbook exist when an individual must choose whether to advance their

own interest, or those of the organization (pg. 26). Debbie is being torn whether to stay

true to a women that has confided in her for support or uphold a company policy. Debbie

may also have conflict of interest with herself because if she keeps quiet she will not be

linked to the incident, but if she speaks up about what she has been told her job may be at

jeopardy. It may come out later that Debbie had spoken to Susan about the situation and

her job would be at a greater risk. Susan has a similar conflict of interest as Debbie does.

On one hand she can keep quiet and deal with Bob on her own, or she can turn Bob in and

risk being harassed and losing her job. By turning Bob in Susan may be harassed even

more by fellow employees for not being a team player.

In this situation Bob seems to be in Kohlberg?s stage of individual instrumental

purpose and exchange (pg. 99). Bob is trying to serve his own needs. While Susan was

still being socialized into the company Bob began to make her feel welcome (pg. 147).

Not only was he trying to take advantage of an employee, but he is also trying to cover his

tracks by going to the supervisor and having Susan either moved or fired. To stop Debbie

from talking to their supervisor Bob threatened her by using coercive power (pg. 128). He

threatened to penalize Debbie to influence her behavior. By threatening her Bob feels that

Debbie will not want to make waves within the company.

Obviously at some point and to some management the belief that sexual

harassment is wrong was seen as part of the corporate culture. Corporate culture is a set

of values, beliefs, or norms that members or employees of an organization share (pg. 119).

Through their code of conduct the organization is saying that they will not stand up for

sexual harassment and it is wrong for people to keep quiet about these matters.

There are many options that Debbie can choose to make. Debbie may go to her

supervisor and follow the code of conduct that her company follows and report what she

has been told from Susan. Debbie may also report that she was threatened by Bob when

he believed that she would support Susan. Debbie may also decide to keep quiet and tell

Susan to keep her name out of it and that she does not want to discuss it with her

anymore. On the other hand Debbie may decide to not report what she has heard but

counsel Susan to go to upper management with the complaint.

No matter what option Debbie chooses I believe that she is going to face conflict.

If Debbie keeps quiet and it comes out that she knew, she may loose her job, or if she

turns in Bob she may face punishment from management for making waves. Debbie is

also at the risk of loosing a friend that trusted her enough to confide in her. If Debbie

keeps quiet and talks Susan into reporting the problem, she still may be at risk if Susan

reports that she talked to Debbie. If Debbie does nothing and talks Susan into keeping

quiet she is doing a disservice to all women. If people quit reporting sexual harassment,

then it will be much harder for those that want to report because management will not see

harassment as much of a problem.

I believe that Debbie should tell Susan that she is going to report what she has told

her and give Susan the option to go with her. While talking to her supervisor Debbie

should bring up the fact that she was threatened by Bob. If Debbie does not feel that her

supervisor is listening to her, since it is a code of conduct, I believe that Debbie could go

one more step up the ladder and talk to her supervisors, supervisor. While dealing with

the problem Debbie may bring up that it may be time to initiate some training on sexual

harassment in the work place. Professionals can be brought into the company that can

teach when relationships are going to far in the workplace.

It is possible that Debbie may be hurting her position in the company for following

the code of conduct. Debbie could support an addition to the code that states that no

matter what the situation is, your job can not be jeopardized from reporting it. It is

possible that even with the addition Debbie and people like her may be punished for

following the code. I believe that it is Debbie?s duty to support Susan in whatever

decision she makes, but it is also her duty to follow the codes of conduct that her company

works under.

References

Ferrell, O. C., Fraedrich, J., Ferrel, L. (2000). Business ethics: Ethical decision

making and cases. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

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