Sep 12, 2019 in Analysis
Analysis of an Ethical Dilemma

This paper highlights some of the significant points learned during this course. Additionally, it provides an analysis of Walmart’s response to the issues of sexual harassment, which occurred within the organization. The findings of the paper reveal three significant points learned in this course. The first aspect is the philosophical approaches to ethical decision-making; the second point refers to the eight-step model of proper decision-making; finally, the third aspect is that both managers and employees are likely to be involved in ethical dilemmas. Another crucial finding is that all those involved in the issue utilized the deontological approach in dealing with the matter. Overall, the organization responded appropriately to the incident, hence, helping solve workplace harassment issue and protect its public image.

Introduction

Ethical dilemmas are prevalent in different companies around the world. This implies that companies must understand different forms of ethical dilemmas they are likely to face in their operations, hence, take adequate preventive measures. This paper will focus on an ethical dilemma relating to workplace harassment as observed at Walmart Incorporation in the U.S. Ethical dilemmas could only be avoided in cases where the management is ready to collaborate with employees in upholding corporate ethical standards. This course has provided a fair opportunity for the understanding of the best ways of dealing with ethical dilemmas in organizations by highlighting ethical decision-making steps that could be followed. The key ethical decision-making steps include a definition of key facts, understanding ethical issues in the situation, respective individuals affected by the dilemma, possible consequences of specific and alternative actions, analysis of relevant obligations in the dilemma, available community standards of integrity and possible creative alternatives of solving the issue.

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The paper, further, explicates the most significant points learned in this course and applies the eight-step ethical decision-making model in the analysis of an ethical dilemma on employee harassment as in the Walmart case.

A Summary of the Most Significant Points Learnt in this Course

One of the most significant points studied in this course relates to philosophical approaches to dealing with ethical dilemmas. In this course, I was offered an opportunity to study and understand different philosophical approaches that could be applied to ethical dilemmas faced by organizations, managers, and employees. The first philosophical approach learned in this course is the deontological approach that focuses on duties, principles, and obligations of organizations and individuals. Trevino and Nelson (2014), opine that the best way to solve problems is to have an in-depth understanding of ethical provisions on these duties and obligations. The second philosophical approach is the consequential approach that focuses on the utilitarian theory. According to Velentzas and Broni (2010), all actions are perceived as ethical, as long as they are done for the benefits of a large number of people in the organization. The approach is vital in understanding actions that are perceived as ethical and those that are perceived as unethical in the organizational situation. Finally, the philosophical approach learned from this course is virtue ethics, which provides that a relevant moral community will measure the conduct of a person. This point is directly applicable to my future career because it provides an effective guide to handling different ethical dilemmas that might arise in the organizational situation.

Another crucial point learned in this course refers to sound ethical decision-making which could only be achieved in cases where organizations and individuals are able to follow the eight-step model. The eight-step model provides a clear guideline to reaching ethical decisions that would be accepted by a larger group of people in society. One of the key steps under the model entails gathering facts related to the issue. The course emphasizes that organizations should be ready to gather different facts before they can start the process of decision-making. Reliable facts serve as a head start to the process of ethical decision-making. Another outstanding step in this model is the identification of relevant stakeholders that are likely to be affected by the decision. Organizations, typically, have various stakeholders including employees, shareholders, creditors, and customers who should be adequately protected by the decisions made in the organization. The eight-step decision-making model also requires managers to understand the provisions of the community on integrity standards to take appropriate decisions. Integrity standards play a significant role in the attainment of consistency in the decision-making process. The last interesting aspect of the decision-making is that the gut should serve as a helpful tool in guiding individuals on the ethical nature of the decisions they make.

Our Benefits

Additionally, it was highlighted in the course that both, members of the management and employees are vulnerable to ethical dilemmas. Hence, ethical dilemmas are not prerogative to management only. The largest number of ethical dilemmas in an organization could be attributed to management. With this in mind, I have learned that organizations need to provide a guideline to both their employees and members of the management to avoid recurrence of ethical dilemmas in the organization. Improving aspects such as reporting lines in the organization help to fight these dilemmas since the key facts relating to the present cases are likely to be reported to relevant individuals. Reporting channels present an easier step to address some of the relevant stakeholders that are affected by the actions of the management and employees. Overall, ethical dilemmas among employees and members of management could be addressed through continuous insistence on the use of communication and reporting channels established in the organization.

Description of an Ethical Dilemma Observed

As noted earlier, this ethical dilemma relates to workplace harassment at Walmart Incorporation, which I had an opportunity to experience in 2013. The incident occurred in the logistics department of the company where Mr. Alex James was the manager. It is worth noting that most women employees faced sexual harassment from the manager at the workplace. He had a domineering attitude and believed that he could control any woman at the department. I heard different women saying that he had physically touched them in an inappropriate manner, as they were performing their duties at the organization. He warned them against reporting with threats of death. I remember, at some point, he told one female employee that he would sack her and kill her in case she dared report him to the senior management. The pressure of sexual harassment continued to pile up on female employees at the department. Nevertheless, they were in a dilemma and could not report the actions of Mr. James. First, they feared for their jobs because he threatened to sack them. Secondly, they feared for their lives, as he vowed not to leave them if he had any reports. The matter continued for a while and the performance of the logistics department started dwindling, as most female employees worked under the fear. A senior management investigation was secretly conducted at the department leading to the discovery of Mr. James’ unethical activities through secret interviews with employees. The manager was subsequently fired and sued by the company to ensure that all female employees are protected as well as the public image of the company. The company also came up with an effective policy on gender respect and diversity appreciation in the workplace, which is still in force to date.

Ethical Approach Used by the Company

Individuals involved in this situation utilized the deontological approach in order to solve the matter. It is crucial to understand that the deontological approach is focused on moral obligations, duties, and principles followed by individuals in executing different actions. For instance, the senior management utilized the deontological approach since it understood that it had an obligation to discern the causes of the matter at the department. The senior management acted in line with the deontological approach to save the image of the organization in the eyes of the public. , The key fact in the case revealed through the eight-step decision-making model was that the logistics department was not performing as efficiently as expected. Additionally, the model allowed defining the key individuals affected by the occurrence of such events. In this case, the affected individuals were employees in the logistics department and the shareholders due to diminishing profits in the department. Conducting secret interviews in order to trace the problem would be the best approach to utilize in such cases. Therefore, the senior management followed the deontological approach to protect the image of the organization and avert possible negative consequences of the situation to the entire organization.

Similarly, employees involved in the situation utilized the deontological approach when sharing their concerns on the situation with the senior management. Applying the eight-step decision-making approach, employees stated the ethical consequences of the situation happening at the organization. The ethical consequence of the problem was their outright suffering at the organization. Essentially, it was their duty to give information about Mr. James’ behavior. This helped save the situation and protect the organization from negative publicity due to workplace harassment. Moreover, the employees utilized the deontological approach to enable senior management to help them. The deontological approach requires individuals to act in line with ethical principles and obligations. According to Raza and Ramzan (2013), employees were obligated to reveal this information about Mr. James in order to be protected from any potential harm.

Did the Organization Respond Appropriately? Why or Why Not?

A keen analysis of this case reveals that the organization responded appropriately to the matter. Firstly, it was able to put a finger on the matter and eliminate the key perpetrator of sexual harassment at the workplace. Firstly, by applying the eight-step decision-making model the organization identified relevant facts to the issue. The main problem was eliminated when Mr. James was identified and sued with the aim of ensuring female employees are protected and the image of the organization is enhanced. Insist that the elimination of the problem is a significant indicator of the view that an organization responded appropriately to the problem.

Additionally, the organization responded appropriately because it was able to isolate all employees at the department and conduct secret interviews on the situation. The organization was able to work in line with the eight-step decision-making model when it realized that employees were the affected parties in this situation. This helped protect them against Mr. James who had threated to kill them if they dared reveal his actions. Therefore, the organization succeeded in protecting the affected parties and providing an appropriate response to the problem.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this course has played a vital role in promoting my academic development. Within the course, I have learned about diverse philosophical approaches that organizations could follow in dealing with ethical dilemmas. These approaches include the deontological approach, virtue ethics, and the consequential approach. Organizations have the freedom of applying any of these theories depending on the situations they face in the course of their operations. In the case discussed in the paper, all the parties acted in line with the deontological approach while fulfilling their obligations and duties.

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