Ethics refers to the moral principles that guide one's behaviour. Most of the norms are shaped by cultural practices, religious influences, and social norms. Making ethical decisions is the process of evaluating possible moral implications of an act. All decisions have moral or ethical dimensions because they affect others. Leaders and managers must have an awareness of their moral and ethical beliefs to guide them when making challenging decisions (Chinadialogue, 2011). Making ethical decisions involves choices regarding who must be part of the process and the ways the decision is made. The following case studies assessments prove the need for leaders to engage in ethical practices in their respective organizations.
Opinion on Dumping Chemicals such as Chromium-6 into the Water Supply
I will not be convinced of letting my company dump chromium-6 into the water supply. This is because the chemical element Chromium-6 causes significant harm to human health. Despite the mineral occurring naturally in the environment, it causes high levels of toxicity. The case study of Chinese chemical firms only supports the decision against allowing my company dumps chromium-6 into the water supply. China accounts for 21% of the carbon released into the atmosphere yearly because of its production activities (Chinadialogue, 2011). The impacts of the release of chemicals such as chromium-6 are far-reached, including the loss of water supply to over 300 million citizens. The dumping of these chemical elements leads to the loss of clean drinking water for Chinese citizens. Allowing the company to dump these chemicals is an outright case of poor ethical practices. It is a breach of corporate social responsibility of the company that demands to be socially accountable to the stakeholders, employees, and the public.
Dumping chemicals such as chromium-6 has related adverse impacts to both human beings and the surrounding. For humans, consumption of chromium-6 leads to cancer, and it also poses significant risks to infants and people having livers that do not function actively. Therefore, releasing chromium-6 into the water supply is a risk to public life. At the same time, it is costly to clean the water supplies that are already contaminated with chromium-6 mineral. Companies that handle manufacturing activities must not dump chromium-6 chemicals in the water supplies. It is not an act of social responsibility (Maryland Department of the Environment, n.d.). Rather, it only shows industries that are determined to reap benefits regardless of the effects on the stakeholders and the public. Dumping these types of chemicals will only result in increased cancer and ulcer rates in the respective community served by the industry.
Why Top Management Teams would be more likely to make Unethical Decisions than their Members
There are various factors that define the organizational misconduct of top senior leaders. Even though the specifics are different, from the brutal dishonesty that surrounds Chinese companies from handling illegal management of funds, the motivating factors are the same. When looking at the case of Chinese companies in detail, there are common themes that lead to the misconduct of the top leaders. These are the beliefs that the task is within reasonable legal and ethical limits. The second belief is that the activity is in the best interests of the individual or the company and that the leader would be required to undertake the task. The third belief is that the task is very safe since it will never be publicized or found out. The final belief is that given that the task assists the organization, it will be tolerated by the company, and the person who engages in the act will be protected (Wang & Young, 2014). Unlike their subordinates, the senior management team requests their juniors to engage in things that they all know are imprudent and against the law. However, top leaders in organizations at times leave some things untouched or provide the suggestion that there are things that they do not have any idea about. Top leaders deliberately or unintentionally look like they are distancing themselves from the tactical decisions of their subordinates to keep clean when things blow out of proportion. The senior leaders convince the ambitious juniors by suggesting that there are rich rewards for those providing particular outcomes. The implication is that the methods for accomplishing these results will not be closely considered.
Managers only understand that their actions are not ethical when they have already gone too far. They lack reliable guidelines over what is tolerated, attacked, condemned, or overlooked. There is a thin line between realizing success and becoming part of the numbers, which lies in the self-knowledge of the leaders. Top senior leaders are not paid for taking risks. Rather, they are paid for identifying the risks that are worth taking. Another goal of a company is profit maximization, which top leaders always seek to achieve. Almost all managers risk providing too much since it is what is demanded of them by their companies. However, the same superiors keep pressing leaders to engage in more actions or do better. When leaders cross this line, it turns on them when the company shifts blame on them for ignoring early signs or even exceeding expectations. Leaders engage in unethical behaviour, unlike their subordinates, because they believe their actions are within the best interests of the organization (Wang & Young, 2014). Ambitious leaders often identify ways of attracting attention that differentiates them from other workers. They are pushed into outperforming their peers. The top management has a duty of exerting morality in the organization. Thus, the senior leaders are accountable for drawing lines between actions against social laws and values and loyalty to the organization. These are some of the reasons why top senior leaders in companies take part in unethical business decisions.
How Outcomes Affect the Ethical Decisions of Top Management Teams in the Future
These cases of unethical practices that are evident in these companies will form the future basis of decision making by top leaders in the future. Many companies in the future, through their able leaders, will introduce and execute ethics and compliance programs to assist with guiding the behaviour and decision making of workers (Thau et al. 2015). Compliance with the regulatory requirements and the policies of the organization are the major components of efficient risk management. The monitoring and maintenance of compliance are not about keeping regulators happy. However, it is one of the main ways of a company towards maintaining its ethical practices, supporting its long-term sustenance, promoting, and preserving its core values. On more practical levels, ethics and compliance program supports the business goals of the companies, which guides the senior leaders to take part in effective practices (Steinberg, 2016). At the same time, leaders in the future will understand ways of identifying boundaries of ethical and legal behaviour.
In the future, leaders are expected to establish a system of alerting everyone involved in the company when it is proceeding to cross an ethical or legal boundary. One there is an issue detected, the top leaders must be prepared in quickly and appropriately responding to reduce the effect on the company. When leaders understand and have an ethics and compliance program in place, it shows the dedication of an organization towards establishing a work environment and business culture that values taking part in what is, good, and right (Thau et al. 2015). Ethics training in companies focuses on assisting workers in addressing moral issues in business decisions (Steinberg, 2016). The training for ethical decisions would include guest lectures, discussions between manager and employee, and workshops. Most of the future ethics training will focus on the clarification and communication of the ethical code of workers so that they understand what is expected of them. Leaders will also understand the importance of role-playing exercises and scenarios that show situations that need actual decision making and give practice on how to think over ethical issues such as those affecting the company both in the short and long-terms.
As shown, Leaders and managers must have an awareness of their moral and ethical beliefs to guide them when making challenging decisions. The senior leaders are accountable for drawing lines between actions against social laws and values and loyalty to the organization. In the future, leaders are expected to establish a system of alerting everyone involved in the company when it is proceeding to cross an ethical or legal boundary. Ambitious leaders often identify ways of attracting attention that differentiates them from other workers.
Chinadialogue. (2011, July 26). Eight cases that mattered [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/4429-Eight-cases-that-mattered,
Maryland Department of the Environment. (n.d.). CHROMIUM CHARACTERISTICS AND USES. Retrieved from https://mde.maryland.gov/programs/LAND/RecyclingandOperationsprogram/Documents/Publications/Chromium%20Fact%20Sheet%20Final%2010-6-13.pdf
Steinberg, S. (2016, August 12). Hinkley: No Hollywood ending for Erin Brockovich's tainted town [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.mercurynews.com/2013/07/12/hinkley-no-hollywood-ending-for-erin-brockovichs-tainted-town/
Thau, S., Derfler-Rozin, R., Pitesa, M., Mitchell, M. S., & Pillutla, M. M. (2015). Unethical for the sake of the group: Risk of social exclusion and pro-group unethical behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100(1), 98. Retrieved from https://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5949&context=lkcsb_research
Wang, X., & Young, M. N. (2014). Does collectivism affect environmental ethics? A multi-level study of top management teams from chemical firms in China. Journal of Business Ethics, 122(3), 387-394. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Xinran_Wang7/publication/257542306_Does_Collectivism_Affect_Environmental_Ethics_A_Multi-level_Study_of_Top_Management_Teams_from_Chemical_Firms_in_China/links/5afae3f1a6fdccacab176def/Does-Collectivism-Affect-Environmental-Ethics-A-Multi-level-Study-of-Top-Management-Teams-from-Chemical-Firms-in-China.pdf
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