5.4 Chapter Summary and Case

Chapter Summary

  • Ethics is defined as a set of values that define right and wrong. Values are standards or principles that a person finds desirable.
  • There are four levels of ethical issues. First, societal issues deal with bigger items such as taking care of the environment, capitalism, or embargos. Sometimes companies get involved in societal-level ethics based on their company policies—for example, not using child labor in overseas factories.
  • The second level of ethical issues is stakeholder issues. These are the things that a stakeholder might care about, such as product safety.
  • Internal policy issues are the third level of ethical issues. This includes things like pay and how employees are treated.
  • Personal-level ethical issues refer to how we treat others within our organization.
  • There are sources of personal ethics and sources of company ethics. Our personal sources of ethics may come from models we had in our childhood, such as parents, or they could come from experiences, religion, or culture. Companies use values statements and codes of ethics to ensure everyone is following the same ethical codes, since ethics vary from person to person.
  • We can use a variety of models and frameworks to help us in ethical decision making. For example, one such model is the Twelve Questions Model. This model encourages us to ask questions such as who this decision affects to determine the best ethical choice.
  • Josephson’s model consists of six steps. They include stop and think, clarify goals, determine facts, develop options, consider consequences, choose, and monitor/modify.
  • Another model discussed has the following steps: identify the problem, identify the potential issues involved, review relevant ethical guidelines, know relevant laws and regulations, obtain consultation, consider possible and probable courses of action, list the consequences of the probable courses of action, and decide on what appears to be the best course of action.
  • Philosophers look at ethics in a framework following a utilitarian approach, common good approach, rights approach, and the virtue approach. These approaches provide a framework for sound ethical decision making.
  • Social responsibility is defined as the duty of business to do no harm to society.
  • There are four levels of social responsibility. First is economics, or the responsibility of the business to be profitable. Second is the responsibility to meet the legal obligations. Businesses must comply with the law and regulations. Next, companies have a responsibility to act ethically and morally, and to choose the action that causes the least, if any, harm. Finally, philanthropic is the idea that businesses should give back—either in time, money, or goods—to the community in which they serve.
  • People used to believe that the relationship between social responsibility and the community was an inverse one, where if companies benefited society, it came at economic cost to them. Recent research has pointed out that in fact creating shared value (CSV) actually benefits both parties and not at a cost to one or the other.

Chapter Case

Damon has just been promoted to the program manager in his digital marketing agency. As program manager, he is responsible for working with vendors to provide services to his clients. One part of his job is to screen out potential vendors for clients and then make overall recommendations and provide project plans to the client based on his selected vendors. This relationship is important because the client places an immense amount of trust in the vendor choices made. Damon, with his straightforward communication style, is talented in picking and choosing the best vendors for the client, which was one reason he was hired. The nature of the job requires Damon to often meet with potential vendors and salespeople. One late afternoon, a vendor meeting with Valerie runs into dinnertime. Valerie asks Damon if he wants to have a drink and some appetizers while they continue discussing the services the vendor has to offer. They go next door to a pub and continue their discussion. When the check comes, Damon picks it up and the Valerie says, “No, you can’t pay for this. I got it.” Damon hands her the check and thanks her for dinner.

Later that week, after Damon has met with all possible vendors for the project, he decides to go with Valerie’s company. They provide the highest-quality services at the best price. In fact, their pricing is about 10 percent less while the services they will provide get rave reviews from other clients. Damon is confident it is the right choice. When Damon goes to the project manager with this decision, the project manager, Janet, says she prefers not to work with that vendor, then asks, “Didn’t Valerie take you to dinner the other night?”

Damon replies, “Yes, but that isn’t why I choose them to be our vendor for this project.” Janet doesn’t respond and turns back to her computer and asks Damon to explain why Valerie’s company is better.

  1. What is the potential conflict of interest in this case?
  2. How can outside perception impact our ethical choices? Should outside perception affect our choices at work?
  3. Using one of the models discussed in the chapter, address how Damon should have gone about making this ethical choice.