Ethical Decisions in the Workplace


Business Ethics

In the world of business, countless decisions and issues arise everyday requiring the men and women of the workplace to evaluate the ethical properties of their decisions and the consequences that could arise from them. Many may argue that ethics has no place in business, and that the decisions made and carried out within the workplace have no bearing on the morality of the business people. It is important to realize, however, that this viewpoint can and does cause many issues both within and outside the business world. One decision can have a profound impact, and it is vital that both the leaders and employees of the business world understand the consequences of their actions.

Taking a look at the given scenario, several employees at a local restaurant are refusing to serve a politician because they disagree with his political views and are requesting that the manager on duty have the politician leave. This issue here is whether or not this course of action would be considered ethical and, if not, how to properly resolve the conflict. It is understandable for the wait staff to be displeased with the political views of the politician, but does this constitute having him or her leave simply because they do not agree with them? What can the manager do to make the most ethical choice and alleviate the wait staff’s concerns?

Taking a look at the utilitarian theory, one will see that ethical actions are those which result in the most desirable outcome for everyone involved. Because of this, it is important to weigh the options of a decision and assess what consequences may emerge. If the manager on duty agrees with the unhappy staff and asks the politician to leave, what consequences would result? The servers, of course, would be pleased with this decision and likely thank the manager for listening to them. The politician, however, would most likely be angry and resentful, and could easily use his position to spread harmful information or rumors regarding the restaurant and staff, which could ultimately damage the reputation and a decrease of business. On the other hand, should the manager choose to refuse the staff’s request, the server’s may be displeased and continue to complain, but it is unlikely that any severely negative consequences would arise. Therefore, taking this analysis into account, the most ethical decision for the manager would be to allow the politician to stay.

While the ethics of this scenario have been resolved, there is still the issue of how to resolve the tension between the wait staff and the politician. In order to alleviate this, the manager’s best course of action would be to listen intently to the servers’ complaints to first understand exactly why they are unhappy, before explaining to them why it is not in their best interest to refuse the politician service. If the wait staff still insists on refusing to serve them, the manager should take it upon themselves to cater to the politician. This resolves the issue of the displeased staff as well as avoids any further conflicts that may arise by forcing them to serve the politician anyways.

It is easy to see the effects one decision can have on the world around us, if one is simply willing to take the time to look. While it may be easier or faster to make the choices which could result in immoral and unfavorable consequences, having the patience to carefully assess each situation and attempt to make the best decision possible will ultimately prove to be the most rewarding. Whether within or outside the business world, ethics affects every aspect of the human life. Having a basic understanding of the theories and principles that go into making ethical decisions will allow the business leaders of the future to be successful in producing not only beneficial but also ethical results for the business world.