Ethics Issue

In Weeks 1–3, you looked at many foundational topics related to ethics. You examined basic ethical issues you might encounter in the workplace and “philosophy of life” of ethical theorists; you applied basic ethical principles to situations that may challenge your own principles; you developed a personal mission statement; and you identified ethical issues from a workplace case study. This Key Assignment will take some of those concepts a step further. For this Key Assignment, you will assume a leadership role in an organization, and you will be required to develop a new section of your business’s code of ethics to permanently address the ethical issue you have identified.

For this task, you will have 3 primary responsibilities or deliverables:

  • Identify and clearly describe an ethical issue.
  • Articulate a code of ethics that you feel is appropriate to address the ethical issue.
  • Apply your code of ethics, along with concepts of leadership and integrity to arrive at your ultimate resolution to the ethical issue chosen.

The task will be divided into 3 sections—one to address each of the above deliverables.

Part 1: Identifying the Ethical Issue

There are a number of ethical issues related to business. The first step in this task will be for you to choose an ethical issue on which to base the remainder of your Key Assignment. Following is a list of potential business-related ethical issues from which you may choose, or you may identify an ethical issue not listed below based on your own research, or based on your own personal and/or professional experiences. For Part 1 of this task, you are to identify and describe your chosen business-related ethical issue. For Part 1, identifying and describing your chosen business-related means that you are to do the following:

  • State the ethical issue chosen from the list, or state the ethical issue you have chosen that is not from the list. For example, “I have chosen to use the following ethical issue for this assignment: deceptive advertising.”
  • Provide a fact-based scenario that will illustrate to your audience the ethical issue involved. For example,

The company General Gadgets, Inc. has been in business for 30 years, but in the last 10 years, it has watched its sales continually plummet because of increased competition in the market. General Gadgets held a 50% market share through the year 2001, but it has watched that market share dwindle to 5% in 2010. In an effort to boost its lagging sales, Widgets, Inc. has hired a marketing firm, Sell It Like It Is Marketing, LLC, to come up with a new marketing campaign. You are the vice president are in charge of corporate social responsibility (CSR) for General Gadgets, Inc. It has been brought to your attention that the marketing campaign being put together is going to do more than just bend the truth a little in terms of claims about the durability of General Gadgets, Inc.’s newest product.

  • Discuss the impact that this ethical issue may have on all interested parties. For example “As the VP of CSR, your concern is that this marketing campaign may have a long-term negative impact on the business, despite the potential short-term revenue boost. It could damage the company’s reputation; it could increase the potential for product-related lawsuits; and internally, it could further erode the employee’s faith in leadership, which has taken a hit as a result in the downward direction of the business in general.”

The examples provided do not represent complete answers, but serve only as examples to provide a little direction for you in getting started. Your answers should go into more detail so that the reader does not have basic questions related to the issue involved or the facts of your scenario. Also, the more detail you use when developing your fact scenario, the easier it will be to complete Part 3 of this assignment.

Following is a list of potential business-related ethical issues from which to choose. Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive, and you may choose an issue not from this list. Whether you are choosing from this list or from outside of this list, it is important that you focus your energies on the last two sections above, so that the reader has a clear picture of the issue and the facts going forward.

  • Omitting the details of certain side effects of drugs by pharmaceutical manufacturers
  • Manufacturing products that are designed to fail sooner to generate repeat business (built in obsolescence)
  • Selling products that the company knows are harmful or addictive to consumers
  • In a retail setting, profiling potential customers based on race, age, religion, etc. (for example, following a customer around while he shops because of his appearance)
  • Bait and switch tactics
  • Deceptive advertising
  • Deceptive packaging or wasteful or unnecessary packaging
  • The number of minorities or women in positions of senior leadership in an organization
  • Bribing of government officials to obtain contracts
  • Using insider information
  • Ignoring health and safety concerns in the workplace

The deliverable length for Part 1 should be at least 400 words in length.

Part 2: Develop a Business Code of Ethics

Now that you have identified for your reader the details involved with your proposed business-related ethical issue, you must determine what rules need to be in place for the organization to eliminate or reduce this issue as a problem for the company going forward.

A code of ethics may help to eliminate some of the differences of opinion when faced with an ethical decision-making situation. Two intelligent professionals may view a situation differently. Their own morals and personal experiences may cause them to reach different conclusion as to acceptable behavior in the circumstance. A code of ethics will make clear what the right thing to do is in that situation.

When professional organizations create a code of ethics, this code serves the purpose of unifying or compromising differences in morality. Two people with differing personal values can share a set of values that they agree will promote their particular profession.

Why are the rules important? The rules are important because they promote a particular standard of ethical behavior. This means that the rules set a minimum standard, a baseline, with respect to certain levels of acceptable behavior expected of all members of the organization.

  • For Part 2 of this Key Assignment, you are to prepare a detailed code of ethics/code of conduct designed to address the ethical issue you described in Part 1. Use the Internet, the library, and other credible sources to find examples of existing codes of ethics/codes of conduct, for an idea of how to format or structure your code of ethics. Please tailor your code of ethics to the specific industry you have chosen for your fact scenario.
  • For this task, you can create a general code of ethics for those areas that do not deal with your chosen ethical issue. However, for those sections of your code of ethics that deal specifically with your chosen ethical issue, please make certain that you go into detail. For example, based on the General Gadgets, Inc., scenario discussed in Part 1, the code of ethics does not need to go into detail on the subject of conflicts of interest, but it should go into detail on the subject of marketing responsibly and securing the trust of customers.

Remember: Design your code of ethics to provide guidance for an employee faced with an ethical decision-making opportunity. Keep in mind that guidance does not mean that the code of ethics will always tell the employee specifically what he or she should do in every situation. However, it should provide sufficient direction that a thoughtful, well-meaning employee should be able to determine the course of action she or he should take, including seeking out advice from a superior, or a particular department or group within the organization.

Your proposed code of ethics should include comments for the sections addressing the ethical issue that is the focus of this assignment. Your comments should indicate why each provision is important, and how it is intended to address the chosen ethical issue.

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