Describe a time when you were faced with an ethical dilemma. What strategies did you use to resolve the issue? What would you have done differently if faced with a similar situation? (please limit your answer to 350 words.)
In 2010, I was running a company that trained engineering and management students in communication, presentation and interviewing skills. We also worked on consulting projects for educational institutions. Our business development efforts were mostly directed at the Career Services department of various colleges. On one occasion, a career services officer indicated that if we offered him a kickback, he would help us get the contract with this college. He also offered to set up a similar arrangement with officers of other colleges. This seemed to be the norm with most colleges in the city. We were going through a lean patch then and needed the business badly. This college was highly reputed and would give us access to 300+ students, not to mention the other colleges.
However, this went against our core values. And we didn’t want to do anything that we would regret later. So we turned down the offer. This resulted in a short term loss of opportunity – but our conscience was clear. Later, we approached the students of this college directly through email, and many expressed interest. We conducted the workshops in a rented premise in the city and finished the coursework for them with the same level of quality as our regular deliverables. Although the number of students we were able to train this way was less than the anticipated number, we were glad that we stood by our values. The following year, based on feedback from these students, we were approached by the directors of the college to conduct the program at the institute. This helped build our standing amongst educational institutions as an ethical company. If I had to do it all over again, I’d still do the same.
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