What are Ethical Dilemmas ?

Several Ethical Dilemmas confront an HR manager. The ethical dilemmas arise from three sources- face- to-face ethics, corporate policy ethics, and functional-area ethics.

Face to Face Ethics:  These arise mainly because there is a human transaction. For example, a purchasing agent of a company develops personal relationship with the sales representative who sells/ supplies to the company. They may address one another on first name basis, have lunch together, and talk often on the phone. A company’s best customers may be well-known to people in the production department as it helps to ensure that they company’s products fit the customer needs.

Because business is composed of these human transactions, it should not be surprising that face-to-face ethical dilemmas arise often.

It is likely that the quality assurance man overlooks a minor defect and approves a lot delivered by a supplier because of the personal relationship that the two enjoy. It is also not unlikely that a supervisor over rates the performance of an employee because of the similar relationship that exists between the two.


Corporate Policy Of Ethics:  Companies are often faced with ethical dilemmas that affect their operations across all departments and divisions. Following conflicting situations are typical:

  1. Your R & D department has modernized one of your products. It is not really ‘new and improved’ you know printing these statements on the package and using it in advertisement will increase its sales.
  1. You are interviewing a former product manager who just left a competitor’s company. You are thinking of hiring him.
  1. You have a chance to win a big account that will mean a lot to you and your company assistant recommends sending a color  television set to his home.

Another issue relates to the consequences of employment contracting in labour intensive basic industries because of the improved methods of production. Modern technology has replaced order methods of production which has in turn resulted in hundreds being rendered jobless. The issue therefore is- global economics competitiveness or local social- psychological stability?

The ethical burden of deciding corporate policy matters normally rests upon a company’s Hr management. The HR managers and directors are responsible for making policies and implementing them too. The ethical content of their policies can have enormous impact throughout the company. It can set an ethical tone and send right signals to all employees as well as external stakeholders.

Functional Area Of Ethics: Functional areas of a business are likely to confront ethical issues. Accounting is a critical function of any business .Accounting statements reveal to the manager and owners the financial soundness of company. Managers, investors, regulating, agencies, tax collectors, and trade unions rely on accounting data to make decisions. Honestly, integrity and accuracy are absolute requirements of the accounting functions. Professional accounting organizations have evolved generally accepted accounting standards (GAAPs) whose purpose is to establish uniform standards for reporting accounting data. When they are followed, these standards ensure a high level of honest and ethical accounting disclosures. Rarely are they followed in factories.

Ethical dilemmas crop up in purchasing departments where strong pressures are felt to obtain the lowest crop up in purchasing departments  where strong pressures are felt to obtain the lowest possible process from suppliers too feel a similar need to bag lucrative contracts.

Marketing in another area of ethical issue. Pricing, promotions, advertising, product information, relation between the ad agencies and their clients, and marketing research have potential area of ethical dilemmas.
Then there is the area of today’s sophisticated technology which is grossly abused or misused to realize one’s ambitions.