EMPLOYEE DILEMMA ON EITHER TO USE BUSINESS ETHICS OR MORALS
Lisa Klein is an employee who is loyal to her company but feels it is morally wrong to let the consumers of the company’s product to continue suffering in her silence. It is also wrong from business ethics to expose you company to the customers or the authorities without first informing the company of the mistake committed. Also, it is the moral responsibility of the company to protect its consumers from using harmful products.
Lisa Klein’s dilemma lies in the fact that she understands the lethal effects posed by the chemical used as an ingredient by the company which has employed her and she fears talking out to betray her company at the expense of trying to help consumers of the product. Her dilemma is further heightened by the fact that talking the truth to the public would jeopardize her career or even ruin the reputation of the company leading to its closure or collapsing. Viewing the moral obligation of the company to its consumers, she finds out that the company appears to neglect its responsibilities by not giving an inscription on the health hazards that the ingredient chemical can cause to the skin or even the whole body system on the label which is stuck on the products’ package.
More on the issue, the dilemma lies in the fact that this employee understands one role of business ethics as to ensure a producer gives detailed information about a product and fails to do so. The other source of dilemma is that the employee knows that it is morally wrong to let a person get into trouble yet you can help him/her.
Analyzing the cause of the dilemma, it is clear that there exists a conflict between betraying her company (exposing this weakness or hidden information and saving the consumer which is in accordance to business ethics) and keeping quiet, securing her job and yet doing what is morally wrong by letting people suffer yet she can help ease their suffering.
Looking at her dilemma from a moral point, the dilemma is still valid. This is in accordance to a scripture in the bible stating that ‘it is morally wrong to let any person created in the image and likeness of God suffers while you can help ease his/her pain’. This is also in accordance to the cultural norms of many societies and a famous saying ‘whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers you do it unto me’.
Looking at the available options that this employee can choose from, one would be to expose the company and save the consumers from the lethal chemical ingredient in the product. This would in turn be viewed as a betrayal to the company by the employee. This might lead to retrenchment of the employee and may further result in prosecution due to breaking the business ethics and giving out some of the company’s secret information to the public without authorization by the company.
The second option would be to talk to her company before exposing the information to the consumers. This would give the company some time to decide on what to do next before the effect of this chemical becomes catastrophic. On top of making a decision it will also give a room for investigation on the chemical content from samples in the market. This option may result in even a better decision by the company about the product. This option is in accordance with the business ethics section dictating the relationship between an employee and the employer but on the other side overlooking the business ethical obligation to the consumers and the general public.
The third option would be to privately go to a government laboratory with some of the product samples and disclose the information to the government. This would make it difficult for the company to know who reported the case top the government and may enable the government to make hasty decisions on how to help those affected by the company. It would also help the medical staff identify the best treatment for those affected by the chemical. This on the other side would be contrary to business ethics though it is still morally upright (Shaw, 2011 chapter 6).
So as to effectively evaluate the options, let us look at some of the factors to consider.
1. Job security of the employee.
2. The reputation of the company and the employee in case this information gets in the wrong hands.
3. The reaction of the public and the government if the information on the lethal effects of the chemical ingredient in the product is exposed.
4. The future of the business in the market.
Evaluating the first option, if she exposes the information about the danger posed by this chemical ingredient, she will definitely do something morally right. This will save many lives from the effects of that chemical poisoning. On the contrary, she will do something wrong according to business ethics. She will betray the trust that the company had in her. This will make her untrustworthy leading probably to her retrenchment thus her job security is at stake.
The second option would cause the public to suffer during the investigation period. This would be morally wrong and according to the bible, this is a sin. On the contrary, the employee will be loyal to her employer thus will not suffer the risk of being retrenched. To the public, this will be an offence that might even make the employee face prosecution due to keeping of information that explains the health hazard of the citizens.
The third option will also be a betrayal to the company. This is because the employee will act against the business ethics and in the end, the truth of who exposed the company’s weakness to the government will eventually be revealed. On the moral side, the employee will have done a morally right thing since this information can be used to treat the affected and prevent further poisoning by the chemical in the product.
Another option would be to blame the retailers of keeping the products to expiry. This would help protect the company’s reputation at the expense of the consumers. This option would override all the moral values of the company for the sake of protecting the reputation of the company.
The last option for the company would be to accept blame and agree to compensate all the affected victims by these harmful products only at a ratio since it cannot compensate all the victims fully.
These decisions would have different moral implications on the society leading to different reactions. For the first option, the company would have accepted blame but not taken any action to help the victims. This implies that the moral aspect of the company is corrupt. The main advantage of this option would be to put the public on alert and inform them to seek medical attention in case anybody using the products feels unwell. This is an ethical responsibility of the business. The main disadvantage on this option would be that the sales of the company would drastically reduce since the consumers would stop using the products leading to the company incurring losses. The second decision would make the public suspicious but not give enough information to make the consumers detach from the product. This would have two main advantages on the company at the expense of the consumers. The sales are not likely to drop to alarming levels at a fast rate and the reputation of the business will not be adversely affected. The main disadvantage that the company will suffer due to this option will be loss of faith and trust in the company by the consumers.
The last option in the company’s list would be have an advantage in restoring the company’s trust and faith in the consumer pool. This will give the uphold consumer confidence and appear as a consolation and in the long run, the incident may fade in the consumers’ memory.
For the company assuming the same perspective, the best option would be to the third option. This would make the business morally responsible to its clients making them trust it once more. It would also be wrong if the company would overlook that complaining from the victims and shift the blame to another party.
If the company takes the second option, it would have violated the n to the moral rights by using its official power to restrict flow of information to the consumers. This would be translated as abuse of official power which is morally wrong. In the first option, the company would have taken moral responsibility but due to lack of empathizing with the victims, it sympathizes only which is not enough considering what it has done to the public and what it can do as a form of compensation yet fails to do it.
On support of my options, the employee must fulfill her moral obligation as a citizen by telling the truth to the public. This will clear her conscience and make her free from any guilt that might face her if any victim loses life (Shaw, 2011).
The second support is from the pillars of ethics in business. The six pillars streamline and compel the employee to be fair, trustworthy, caring, respectful and responsible and a good citizen. These pillars must be followed thus the employee must not be self- caring only but also caring about the others. Thus, the employee should report the case regardless of the company’s reaction (Josephson, 2002).
On the option of the company, the company must be ready to admit any mistake committed to the esteemed consumers of their products so that the company may not be forced to close down due to loss of the market share.
According to Mathew 7: 12, you should not do to others what you would not like to be done unto you. This bible verse is a supportive verse to the first option of the employee. She would like anybody to jeopardize her life by withholding information vital to save her life all in the name of company loyalty. Also, the company would not like to be treated unfairly by its suppliers thus should not treat the employee unfairly for exposing the chemical poisoning of the consumers.
More on the idea of biblical impact in the decision to be made, from Genesis 1:17, everyone of in God’s image thus what you decide to do, think if you were in God’s place, would that be the best way to act. Also, according to the Lord’s divine law, is the decision that you will make be subject to correction by the divine laws? Though business acts in its own ethics, it should also act in accordance with the divine law. The divine law asks us to do to others as we are doing to our creator thus is the decision you take be the same as you were t take when dealing with God? Subjecting my decisions to this criteria, the idea of divine law is observed since the business should accept blame and do something to help the victims which I another form of caring for our neighbors. On the employee, by reporting the case to the public will be the best since she will act as the creator would expect of her.
According to utilitarian theory, the employee would act in the best manner by reporting the case to the public since this will be in for the benefit of the many not the few in the company. Also, by the company accepting to taker blame and empathize with the victims, it will also follow the utilitarian theory for this action will benefit the many. The consumers will be saved from this danger of getting poisoned by the chemical which might result in much devastating results compared to the loss that the company might incur due to the chemical in the products.
According to consequentialist theory, moral values of any act are determined by the results obtained. Thus, the action taken by the employee or the company shall be judged as right or wrong according to the outcome. By this theory, the action of the employee to open up to the public and save the situation will be of mass acceptance thus will be morally upright. Pertaining to the company, the decision to accept blame and empathize will also have public acceptance making it morally upright.
Using the ideas from egoism theory, the employee may decide to open up for her personal interests. By this act, she might gain publicity and favour in the eyes of the government making it easier for her to secure another job much easily even if she is retrenched. The company might as well decide to open up so as to try and win the public trust again. This would in turn make the public believe that the company is conscious of the welfare of the public but this would only be as to maintain the market share.
The categorical imperative theory comes handy to support the options that I have given. This is because the theory advocates for acceptance of an action that will benefit the majority. This is one of main pillars of morality thus this theory analyses the options and directly supports the best options as outlined in the context.
Using Prima facia theory, the lives of the consumers is optimum importance to the company since if they shift their support away from the company, it will surely collapse. This makes the company act as to override all other possible options for the sake of retaining this core pillar to it. This illustrates that the company should also consider this theory in analyzing the dilemma as well as the panel charged with the solution of the dilemma.
The moral decision for both sides should be just and considerate according to the following suggestions on top of the earlier outlined points.
Recognize the importance of the decision to make. Will anybody or party have to suffer physical or mental harm?
Could the decision result in the destruction of any involved party’s reputation?
Is the decision effective and achievable?
Is discipline and order of protocol observed when dealing with the case? (Josephson, 2002).
These points will guide the decision on the ethical side but on the moral side and its impact on business, the following guidelines will serve good.
1. Is whistle blowing the best option to ensure that the public learns of the harm that the products can cause?
2. Is the decision made morally upright?
3. Is the mail goal in the moral sector of the decision achieved fully without oppression of any involved parties? (Shaw, 2011 chapter 8)
As a word of making the final decision, I would urge the panel to first consider my best option and evaluate them to expose even more advantages of choosing them. Let the decisions be full of morals and compassion as well as the consideration for other as if you were victim. The world lives on feeling for one another and since everyone would like to be treated fairly, let the decision made be fair as well.
Also, I urge the panel making the decision to consider the business ethics and the existence of the business as well after the decision. How the company will be affected by the occurrence will greatly influence its future operations thus the panel should employ the measures that it would feel fair and just if they were used on its operations.
In conclusion, I would request the panel to give some more evidence on the decision taken putting into consideration the welfare of all the involved parties. The decision as well should outline all the other possible options and give the strengths and weaknesses of each for easier comprehension and understanding to ease solving of similar future dilemmas.
1. Shaw, W and Barry, V. 2011. Morals Issues in Business. Cengage learning.
2. Josephson, M. 2002. Making Ethical decisions. Josephson institute of ethics.