Before starting the work situation I would like to talk about the business ethics first and its importance. Business ethics is one of the most important, still perhaps most misunderstood, concerns in the world of business today. The field of business ethics deals with questions about whether specific business practices are acceptable. For example should a sales person omit facts about a product’s poor safety record in a sales presentation to a client?
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Should an accountant report inaccuracies discovered in an audit of a client, knowing the company will probably be fired by the client for doing so? Should an automobile tire manufacturer intentionally conceal safety concerns to avoid a massive, and costly, tire recall? Regardless of their legality, the actions taken in such situations will be surely judged by others as right or wrong, ethical or unethical. By its nature the field of business is controversial and there is no universally accepted approach for resolving its issues. On the other hand, government is encouraging organizational accountability for ethical and legal conduct. Organisatons are being asked to prevent and control misconduct by implementing ethics programs and businesses are communicating core values to their employees to develop an ethical climate in the organization.
Ethics has been defined as ” inquiry into the nature and grounds of morality where the term morality is taken to mean moral judgments, standards and rules of conduct.” It has also been called the study and philosophy of human conduct, with the emphasis on the determination of right and wrong. The American Heritage Dictionary offers these definitions of ethics: ” The study of the general nature of morals and of specific moral choices; moral philosophy and the rules or standards governing the conduct of the members of a profession.” ( Business ethics by Ferrell, Fraedrich and Ferrell 5th edition. Page 4-5.)
Among men there are but few who behave according to principles – which is extremely good, as it can so easily happen that one errs in these principles, and then the resulting disadvantage extends all the further, the more universal the principle and the more resolute the person who has set it before himself. Immanuel Kant, Observations of the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime [ translated by John T. Goldthwait, University of California Press, 1960, p.74]
Many moral dilemmas are dilemmas because of a certain kind of conflict between the rightness or wrongness of the actions and the goodness or badness of the consequences of the actions. If doing what is right produces something bad, or if doing what is wrong produces something good, the force of moral obligation may seem balanced by the reality of the good end. We can have the satisfaction of being right, regardless of the damage done; or we can aim for what seems to be the best outcome, regardless of what wrongs must be committed. This pattern of dilemma may be represented in the chart. (www.fresian.com/dilemma.htm)
Description of the work situation.
I am a checkout supervisor in Sainsbury’s Supermarket. Sainsbury’s is the leading retailer in the UK with more than 500 branches throughout the kingdom and has more than 150000 staffs to run its day to day activities. It has many departments and every department has an important part to play within the store although checkout plays the major role because this is where the customer service is measured and good customer service and customer care is the only way to stay in a business today. Apart from me there are 6 more supervisor along with 2 assistant managers and a department manager.
All of the others are British and me only an Asian. With the intention to improve the customer services we are supposed to observe the activities of cashiers periodically. The cashier are marked in terms of grades Red, Amber and Green. The Green is considered perfect whereas the Amber needs improvement in certain fields and the red face disciplinary depending on the number of times. I have found that the British supervisors whenever they observe the cashiers they mark green to the one they like, mainly, the British and red for those whom they don’t like and they mainly include the Caribbean and the Asian.
It is not only once but every single time. Not only this much the most lazy cashiers are nominated as the cashier of the day depending on how beautiful or handsome they are and how close they are to the management teams. In such situation I am asked to observe 3 cashiers all of them Caribbean and one Spanish by the senior duty manager just to see my views regarding them. I know that they are very good cashiers and they are very important for the department and they deserve green but the top management don’t know this. But, because they are always getting red report against them they want to know my views before dismissing them as they have already received 2 warnings. I am in the critical position now because I cannot decide what to do.
Dilemma: What should I do? If I am observing them I am going to mark them green because they deserve that and the claims made against them are unfair. This will take me against all others and then the management will question me why this happened. If all others think they should be marked red why did u mark them green. This will even make me alone at the work. I may not get any support from my colleagues . but If I am marking them red they are going to be dismissed and then they will be jobless.
Options Available: 1. Observe and mark them Red.: Questions come in my mind. What shall I do? Shall I observe them? What shall I do if I observe them? Shall I mark them red. Because by doing this I can be more closer to the team I have at work. This will also prove that the team is really very good to the management. The top management will know that there is no partiality and every thing is fair. If I do so then the supervisors will be happy as well and may be will be more helpful to me because I have joined them.
2. Observe and mark them Green.: The next thing my moral asks me is that right? Is that ethical? Should I mark them red? If so why? Just to stick to the team but they are going to lose the job only because of my personal benefits. No I shouldn’t mark them red. But what then? Should I mark them green? If I am doing so then I am going against everyone. This will not only make me alone but will bring me in a situation to face many questions. May be I will be said that I don’t know how to do observations. I am not fit for the position. I will be considered ineffective. This will bring lots of conflicts.
3. Observe and mark them Amber.: The third alternative that comes to my mind is to observe them and mark them amber. This seems better than marking them red because this will help the cashiers to stay there for a while and will give them the opportunity to prove their ability to someone else whoever observe them. But this will again hurt them who don’t want them to stay there anymore.
4. Don’t observe any cashier.: The fourth option available to me to ignore observing any cashier on that day making some excuses. This will prevent me from doing any wrong or unethical decision and will some stop me from involving myself in the conflict.