The Housing Allowance - Business Ethics

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THE HOUSING ALLOWANCE

Wilson Mutambara grew up in the slums of Rambia and through hard work and talent he was given the opportunity to study and receive his MBA in the united states. After three years of working at a cellular telephone service company, NewComm, he received the opportunity to go back to Rambia when NewComm decided to expand. All the employees at the NewComm offices in Rambia were set to receive $2,000 monthly for housing needs to insure that its employees live in a safe and convenient area and that their living arrangements are complimentary to the company image. One of the employees, Dale Garman, found out that Wilson was falsifying his monthly housing expenses and was in fact living in his old neighborhood, which couldn't possibly cost more than $300. The house that Wilson was living in was not up to the company standards and it looked as if he was sharing it with quite a few people. Dale notified Wilson's supervisor Barbara Weston of his living situation and Barbara confronted Wilson. Wilson admitted to the falsified invoices and pleaded to Barbara that there is quite a bit expected of him as a Rambian from the slums. He provides for his family and pays for his nieces' and nephews' educational expenses from that money. He also felt that if he lived in an expensive area like his colleagues, his family would judge his actions and think of him as selfish. Although Wilson had good intentions in falsifying his claims, he did not use the allowance as NewComm intended for him to do and more importantly falsified his invoices. Now Barbara faces a tough decision of deciding how to appropriately handle this situation in an ethical way. At the personal level of analysis, Wilson is the primary stakeholder. He looked at the situation at the beginning and assumed that it was fair for him to receive equal compensation for housing even though he chose to live below his means. He was helping his relatives and was unable to see that the fraud he was committing could have dire consequences. At the corporate level of analysis is NewComm, its’ management and employees in Rambia. The company, NewComm, is a very significant stakeholder since it is providing the money to Wilson and expecting that the obligations they allocate to their employees are met without protest. NewComm can also garner trouble from authorities or the IRS if they are reporting the housing allowance under benefits, and Wilson’s imprudence comes out as fraud and the government might also think NewComm is involved. The societal stakeholders in this case are Wilson’s relatives and the Rambian community who perceives Wilson as their hero for achieving success in America. After Barbara confronted Wilson about his indiscretion and he explained his reasoning behind it, she has to decide how to handle this appropriately. Barbara is obligated to handle this by taking NewComm’s best interest into consideration. It is imperative that she consider the harm Wilson’s decision could have caused NewComm since he used the money dishonestly and intentionally misrepresented his false housing, and now Barbara has to decide if Wilson should face disciplinary action, or even termination. However, Barbara needs to show empathy toward Wilson and consider the reasons why he felt obligated to defraud NewComm. Wilson felt that this money was being put to better use since he was helping more people with it instead of spending it to portray a better image of NewComm by living an extravagant lifestyle. From my perspective, the three alternatives for Barbara in this case are: i. For Barbara to give a probationary period to Wilson to correct his actions and find proper housing in keeping with NewComm’s image. He can move out of Old Town and into the “safer” neighborhood where the rest of his colleagues are residing. Although this is very unfair, he can also receive a pay cut to reimburse NewComm for the money he wrongfully took from the housing allowance...
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