An ethical dilemma involves a situation that needs a person to make a choice where there are only two options and they both have a moral implication. The situation comes around as a person goes on with their normal daily lives. In business, many aspects expose people to dilemmas. For instance, procurement services, recruitment, nepotism and tenders in the firms subject management and the people involved in the transactions to many ethical dilemmas (Ferrell & Fraedrich, 2012).
The human resource manager at Quick-Tech Solutions was faced with a dilemma in his recent recruitment of the workers. The company had advertised for positions that needed to be filled. The company policies bar family and close relatives from working together at the company. Also, according to the policy, new employees to the firm should be chosen on the basis of their merit. While people applied to the open positions, a niece to the human resource manager also applied without the manager's awareness. The shortlisting of the candidates for the interview was done by the subordinate staff and the manager's niece was among the people that qualified to the interview of which she also passed and qualified for an employment. While the names of eh qualified persons for employment were forwarded, the manager then learned that his niece was among the names that were forwarded to him for approval. His dilemma was that the company policy barred him from employing close relatives. He also cannot disqualify her for she has reached there through merit. The manager can choose to be quiet about the issue and ask his niece not to reveal their relationship but he also has a moral obligation to stay true and loyal to the company. The manager also understands the struggles his niece has made in searching for a job and denying her the chance could break her and cause her to continue struggling.
Justification of the Dilemma
The business ethical dilemmas include a conflict of the ethical standards in the business, the code of conduct, company policies, laws, and rules. All these aspects of a business ethics help organizations to be run in a proper way (Makkreel & Luft, 2010). Different theories apply when dealing with ethical dilemmas in business. One of the theories is the utilitarian theory. This theory holds that an action can be seen as either ethical or not ethical depending on the outcome (West, 2004). Therefore, if an activity generates much good for the business, it will be taken as ethical. Further, an ethical action includes the ordering of the rules and standards in a manner that results in the ultimate helpfulness of the situation at hand. Connecting to this case of employee recruitment, there is a need for every company to give a chance to the best person while they are recruiting (Ferrell & Fraedrich, 2012). Employing the niece will result in good for both the company because she was the best in the interview, and to her, as she has been looking for an employment opportunity.
Another theory that could weigh on this ethical dilemma is the rights ethical approach. This theory holds that every person has inherent rights in life that should be respected (Kay, 2018). Under this theory, an ethical action is recognized through observing the rights of an individual. Most business ethics are based on this theory so that they can be able to create right relationships with the workers and the customers. The theory also holds that the best way to manage issues of ethics and morality is by framing a strategy that will keep the business policies without violating any person's rights (Shaw, 2010). Further, the rights theory presents that the rights of a person are autonomous above any other variant that affects them (Reed & Cohen, 2018). Therefore, under this theory, it means that dismissing the niece could be against her right to getting employment given that she is qualified.
The Kantian theory also proposes that an action is considered ethical if it can pass as a general law, which applies to all people (Makkreel & Luft, 2010). Immanuel Kant who is the proponent of this theory holds that while rules are being set for the general application, they should not allow favoritism or create any special situations. According to Holzhey & Mudroch (2005), the standards set by an organization ought to be followed to achieve the organizational goals. This means that man is not an end but a means to achieve the desired end. Further, the workers in an organization are under an obligation to follow the policies that guide their conduct in the organization (Hanson, 2014). Hence, in the case of the human resource manager's niece who on one hand merits to be employed by the company cannot qualify because of the family ties, which is not allowed in the company.
Justice and ethical relativism in business also requires that all people are treated justly, giving detail to their qualifications, rank, race, faith or any distinct feature (Makkreel & Luft, 2010). Where there are differences in preference, there must be a genuine reason for such a preference. Moral relativism determines whether an action is correct or wrong by assessing the applicable standards in a given situation (Mihailovic & Cvijanovic, 2013). Therefore, an action can be seen as ethical in one instance and not ethical from another perspective. Unlike Kantian's deontology theory, ethical relativism has no absolute rule. Every case is determined independently. This means that appointing the niece to be an employee of the company can be regarded as ethical or not ethical depending on the explanation that will be attached to the appointment.
The virtue approach also applies to this dilemma. It is not an easy approach to be applied by organizations because of its requirement in implementing the moral rule that is obvious to the public (Ferrell & Fraedrich, 2012). This limits a business for taking control of their standards because using the virtue approach may cause the firm to lose focus on its objectives. In this dilemma, this approach would mean that the niece gets a job for she is qualified and family ties should not bar her from getting the job.
Proposed Ethical Solutions
Ethical dilemmas require polished leadership skills to solve (Stockall & Dennis, 2015). A leader, in this case, should possess high moral intelligence. Further, while making a decision in a case such as the one presented, the leaders need to be careful not to encourage a practice of unethical behavior in the business (Bolstad, 2012). For instance, if the workers learn that the human resource manager has hired his niece, they will also seek to have their qualified relatives to be given a chance in the company. When a company comes up with an anti-nepotism policy, the aim is to discourage and bar favoritism and interpersonal conflicts from affecting the production activities of the business (Borrelli, 2015). Often, at some point, this kind of policies appear to be discriminatory, especially when it involves women; it is taken to be same as the sex discrimination. This could lead to a company being sued on grounds of discrimination. Therefore, the human resource manager had to ponder and be careful in coming up with a solution to this dilemma.
While handling this dilemma, first, the anti-nepotism policy needs to be understood clearly by both the employers and the persons that apply to the organization ("Ethical Guidelines for Human Resources", 2018). Understanding the rationale behind a policy will help the affected parties to learn why they cannot find a chance at the organization. Further, while making an anti-nepotism rule, it is right to give limits to it like barring family and close relatives from working in the same department ("Nepotism | House Committee on Ethics", 2018). The circumstances under which the employment of relatives is prohibited should be clear to inhibit the questioning of the applicability of the policy ("Business Ethics and Social Responsibility", 2018). Further, if a relative is to be employed, the two employees should ensure that their relationship does not get in the way of their productivity in the company.
While the organization bans the employment of relatives, it should first come up with a list of possible problems likely to be encountered if relatives are employed. Further, it should consider alternative ways of dealing with this issue so that it may not be discriminative in its employment policies (Labor Law Education Center, 2018). For instance, if the worry is on the relatives supervising each other in the same department, then the policy should be limited to the relatives in the same office and department. The roles they hold should result in minimal interaction between them while they are conducting official duties (Hrsimple, 2018). The aim should be to have the employees having the right morale to work. When there lacks an option to deal with family members issues at work, then the organization should resolve to revamp its anti-nepotism policy (Fu, 2015).
To deal with the issue, the human resource manager decided to involve the management to discuss the issue of his niece employment. He first explained his lack of involvement in the whole process that reached his niece as the suitable person for the employment. His decision to involve the management was informed by a lack of clarity on the anti-nepotism policy of the company on the extent conditions under which a relative should not be employed. The company's policy was not clear on it anti-nepotism policy. The policy was not stated in its advertisement for new recruits and further, it was not mentioned in the interview. Therefore, in her application, she was not aware of the application of the policy in the organization. This meant that denying her the opportunity could be a discrimination against her. On the other hand, it meant that employing her and the relationship is known could raise questions among the staff on the selective application of policies.
These loopholes in the procedure meant that the management had to first review the policy to seal them. Popularizing the policy and the rationale behind the policy in the organization and for the people seeking to be employed in the company was drafted to help avoid a similar situation from happening (Mihailovic, Cvijanovic & Simonovic, 2015). Second, they defined the manner in which the recruitment should be conducted. No one was allowed to influence the process by their position in the company. Canvassing and seeking to influence the process of recruitment to have a relative get a chance in the company was out ruled and could lead to the dismissal of the involved persons.
Because of the shortcoming of the company to notify the applicants of the anti-nepotism policy, the niece was allowed for employment to prevent claims of discrimination ("Nepotism Restrictions", 2018). The company had a responsibility to ensure that its policies are well published and implemented in a proper way. However, she was assigned to a department that was not directly linked to that of her uncle.
Beyond the sealing of the loopholes, the management called for a meeting with the employees to notify them of the situation and the adjustment made to the anti-nepotism policy. At first, they sought the view of the employees to determine their position on the policy. Further, they also took suggestions on how to improve the policy. The inclusion of the employees in this process meant that the changes made will not raise doubts among them (US Legal, 2018).
Bolstad, M. (2012). Mixing Work with Family: Nepotism, Spouse, and Word-of-Mouth Policies. Retrieved from http://www.acc.com/legalresources/quickcounsel/mwwfnsawp.cfm
Borrelli, M. (2015). What is Nepotism and What Can You Do If It Affects You?. Retrieved from http://www.employmentlawyernewyork.c...
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