Ethical Dilemmas in Workplace

Topics: Ethics, Business ethics, Morality Pages: 6 (1620 words) Published: October 13, 2011
Ethical Dilemmas in Workplace
Personal values may conflict with ethical decision making if those personal values are different than the organizational norms of the business or institution. Constructing, and maintaining personal ethics in the workplace rests with the individual, and how willing he or she is in assimilating to the evolving cultural dynamic of the corporate world. Many times a person find their personal, cultural and/or organizational ethics conflicting and must reconcile a course of action that will mitigate cognitive dissonance. In order to be a productive member of society, in small groups and globally, one must reconcile these conflicts on a daily basis and continually move forward while maintaining personal integrity and balance. Ethics are thought of by many people as something that is related to the private side of life and not to the business side. In many businesses, having ethics is frowned upon or thought of as a negative subject. This is because business is usually about doing what’s best for number one, not about what’s really the right thing to do. Ethical conduct is influenced by moral intensity, ethical sensitivity and situational influences. Since behaviour depends not just on motivation, but also on ability, role perceptions and situational contingencies.

Since ethical problems involve making value judgements, making an ethical decision is difficult due to the ethical dilemma of subordinating one or more of our values. Problems arise when employee’s personal values are misaligned with company’s values resulting in decisions that conflict with organisational goals and employees experience higher levels of stress and turnover.

In this  paper I will focus on some ethical issues at workplace that illustrate how possessing good ethics can have a positive effect in the workplace, and how the inverse can have a negative impact. These cases are real life situations dealing with ethical dilemmas that I encountered in my past 10 years of employment at various organizations.

I addressed most of these situations by asking the following questions:

• What are the options?
• What are the issues?
• What are the consequences?
• What is the right thing to do?
I have not revealed the names of the companies with whom I worked in the past because of confidentiality reasons.

Ethical Issue 1:

After joining a consulting company in 2002, I discovered that other, more senior employees were overstating their travel reimbursements to increase their pay packages. They encouraged me to do the same so that I will be part of the unethical process and the group would have no complaints from me.

Some of these unfair practices include:

• Taking the maximum daily meal allowance
• Meal reimbursement even though meals were provided as part of cost of event • Purchase airline tickets from a carrier that offers free miles even though the fare might be higher than another carrier

The Solution:

In coming to a decision, I had to consider my loyalty to co-workers, fidelity to the company, and honesty. Not all of these values can be upheld, one or more must be violated in order to reach a decision. Since I strongly believe and lead my life on the basis of ethical principles, I made a decision not to falsify travel expenses and indulge in unfair practices. I brought this matter to the immediate attention of the management. The management conducted an inquiry and responded with a strict company policy with effective internal controls to prevent any such future abuse by the consultants. Had I violated the tenets of my ethical code, it would have engrained the seeds of unethical habits and I would have become habituated to violating most aspects of my ethical framework.


I did not compromise on my personal ethics of being truthful and honest, but strained my relationship with fellow employees.

Management overhauled with expense reporting procedures,...
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