Ethics can be defined as a set of principles of right conduct, or a theory or system of moral values. High ethical values are very important to have as individuals, and even more important to have within a corporation. Yet ethics do not always seem to get the focus that they deserve. All one has to do is turn their attention to “last year’s high-profile scandals [that] cast a shadow over corporate America, reminding us about the consequences of unethical behavior and shady business practices” (Fetrow 54) to realize that high moral ethics are not getting the attention that it deserves. This research paper will deal with an ethically defensible decision and will answer the following questions based around this decision; 1.) What are the ground rules?, 2.) What could they be?, 3.) What should they be?, 4.) What are the ethical implications of the decision?, and 5.) How might the decision change the ground rules?
The situation that I will be writing about deals with employees of DecisionOne in their interactions with Sprint PCS accounts. Step one deals with ground rules. These are rules that are set forth, usually as expectations, at the start of employment. Other rules or changes in any of the ground rules are communicated to the employees throughout the length of their employment. These should be in addition to their personal ethical values, and are communicated in black and white to eliminate any confusion. The rule that I will focus on is applying credit to Sprint PCS accounts.
Step two expands the grounds rules to encompass what could be included in the rules. In the broad spectrum of work, there are many unwritten rules. This is the area where common sense should take over. In dealing with crediting customer’s accounts there are not many unwritten or unsaid rules, as any matter that includes monetary adjustments is clearly defined. This means that there would be no secrets when or why to apply credit. Step three follows this common theme, and asks what the ground rules should include. For this example the ground rules are stated in a document that the employees sign during the orientation process. This document sets forth the clear expectations to the employees when crediting Sprint accounts. There are no surprises, or hidden secrets behind this topic. This leads to step four, and also introduces the ethical decision that I dealt with on this subject.
Step four asks the question, what are the ethical implications of the decision? The decision that was made by the employee, in this case, was not an ethical one. When this account was brought to my attention to conduct an investigation, it was clear that the employee in question had applied multiple credits to the account. It was my job to determine whether these were legit credits, or ones that had been applied to the account in an unethical manner. After discovering multiple phone calls that were made between the two parties – right there on the Sprint bill itself – it was clear there was only one decision to make. This confrontation started with a face-to-face confrontation, to gather information from her side of the story, and then eventually to a meeting with my boss that led to a final meeting with human resources. This was a clear case of someone conducting themselves in an unethical manner and thus the decision to terminate employment did not come as a surprise to anyone. The key to making this final decision is to evaluate the process as a whole and determine if we as a management team need to revisit the framework behind the process. This all leads to the final step in this process.
Step five asks the question about how the decision might change the ground rules. This is an important step, because it is during this stage that a company can revisit the whole process and determine what could be done to prevent this from reoccurring again in the future. In this case, the answer was communication.
Although this was a document that everyone signed when they were first hired, it was not something that had been revisited. While the ground rules stayed the same, the knowledge of these rules was revisited with the technicians handling the Sprint accounts. Being a vender site, we had to show our client that this type of behavior would not be something that we did not take seriously. By reexamining our process, we determined that it was a process that worked, but also wanted to make sure the knowledge of this process stayed fresh in the minds of those working the accounts.
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