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Code of Ethics and System of Inquiry

Develop a system of inquiry to be used in evaluating decision-making, problem solving, and behavior in a business setting. This model will include a basic framework as well as a discussion of why, how, when and by whom it is used. Consider how the code would be implemented, possible reactions to the code from employees and the effect the code would have on the organization.

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Let's look at some general information and examples about resolving Ethical Dilemmas, and finally, three systems of ethical inquiry that the HR manager could use to determine if an employee or department manager has stepped out of the bounds of ethical propriety. It is also important for the employees to make business decisions using the ethical principles as decision-making guidelines. Then, it is unlikely that the manager will need to take disciplinary actions as often, because the employees are knowledgeable in the ethical principles and use them to guide their decisions-making process using a step-by-step ethical system of inquiry, which is an ethical decision-making model (usually 5 or 6 steps).

I. Ethics Tools: Resolving Ethical Dilemmas (with Real-to-Life Examples)

Definition of an Ethical Dilemma. Perhaps too often, business ethics is portrayed as a matter of resolving conflicts in which one option appears to be the clear choice. For example, case studies are often presented in which an employee is faced with whether or not to lie, steal, cheat, abuse another, break terms of a contract, etc. However, ethical dilemmas faced by managers are often more real-to-life and highly complex with no clear guidelines, whether in law or often in religion.

Doug Wallace, Twin Cities-based consultant, explains that one knows when they have a significant ethical conflict when there is presence of a) significant value conflicts among differing interests, b) real alternatives that are equality justifiable, and c) significant consequences on "stakeholders" in the situation.
An ethical dilemma exists when one is faced with having to make a choice among these alternatives.

II. Real-to-Life Examples of Complex Ethical Dilemmas

1. "A customer (or client) asked for a product (or service) from us today. After telling him our price, he said he couldn't afford it. I know he could get it cheaper from a competitor. Should I tell him about the competitor -- or let him go without getting what he needs? What should I do?"
2. "Our company prides itself on its merit-based pay system. One of my employees has done a tremendous job all year, so he deserves strong recognition. However, he's already paid at the top of the salary range for his job grade and our company has too many people in the grade above him, so we can't promote him. What should I do?"
3. "Our company prides itself on hiring minorities. One Asian candidate fully fits the job requirements ...

Solution Summary

By illustrative example, this solution shows how to develop and implement a system of inquiry for evaluating business decision-making, problem solving, and behavior. It also discusses how models include a basic framework, as well as a discussion of why, how, when and by whom it is used and the possible reactions to the code from employees and the effect the code would have on the organization.

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