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As a business owner, you will likely face ethical issues. How you handle these situations can make or break your business. This article will discuss eight of the most common business ethical dilemma examples. We will also provide tips on how to handle these situations effectively.
Eight Business ethical dilemma examples
Some common business ethical dilemma examples include:
1. Using company time for personal purposes
Many people believe it is wrong to conduct personal business on company time, but several gray areas can make this decision difficult.
For example, co-workers often use company time to check personal email or make phone calls. Furthermore, many employers allow employees to take breaks for personal errands or activities.
So long as these activities do not interfere with work duties, most employers turn a blind eye. But, ultimately, whether or not to conduct personal business on company time depends on the individual’s ethical standards and the company’s policies.
2. Crediting others’ work
Taking credit for someone else’s work is a moral dilemma that can arise in business. For example, let’s say you’re working on a project with a team of people.
One team member does most of the work while the others contribute a few ideas. Then, when it comes time to present the project, you receive all the credit even though you didn’t do most of the work. This is an ethical dilemma because you are not being truthful about your involvement in the project.
On the one hand, you may feel like you deserve the credit because you were the one who presented the project. But, on the other hand, you know that taking credit for someone else’s work is wrong, and it goes against your ethical standards.
3. Sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior
It is not uncommon for employees to experience harassing or inappropriate behavior from superiors or other employees. While such situations can be challenging, it is essential to remember that you have rights and options.
If you feel that you are being harassed or mistreated at work, the first step is to report the behavior to your supervisor or HR department. Once a formal complaint has been filed, an investigation will be launched.
In some cases, the victim of such behavior may also pursue legal action. Remember, if you are being harassed or mistreated at work, you are not alone—some people can help you through this challenging situation.
4. An employee who steals at work
Many rationalize taking office supplies from work by saying the company won’t miss a few pens or paperclips. But this is simply stealing, and it is unethical.
When everyone takes something without paying for it, it does add up against company profits. This can lead to falling profits, which affects everyone in the company, even future raises, bonuses, or layoffs.
Therefore, it is always ethical to pay for office supplies you take from work, regardless of how small the item may be.
5. Lying to customers about a defective product
Lying to customers about a defective product is one example of unethical business practice. Sometimes, sales representatives may knowingly sell a defective product to unsuspecting customers. In other cases, businesses may make false claims about a product’s quality or performance to boost sales figures.
Either way, lying to customers is dishonest and damages the company’s reputation. In addition, it can lead to legal problems if the customer discovers the truth about the product. As such, businesses should avoid lying to customers about their products altogether.
6. Resisting a sale based on race or religion
Many companies have strict policies in place regarding discrimination. These policies are implemented to ensure that all customers are treated fairly and equally, regardless of race or religion.
However, there are some instances where company policy may conflict with personal beliefs. Not only does it prevent them from accessing the product or service they need, but it also sends a message of intolerance and hate.
In some cases, it may even lead to physical violence. As a result, it is essential for businesses to carefully consider their policies and procedures to avoid any form of discrimination.
7. Making the company look more profitable than it is
Many business ethical dilemmas arise from business practices designed to manipulate financial reports to make the company look more profitable than it is. They may also understate their expenses by classifying them as something other than what they are, such as research and development costs.
Additionally, companies may use aggressive accounting practices to overestimate their assets and underestimate their liabilities. These practices may give the appearance of short-term profitability.
8. Offering kickbacks to vendors in exchange for business
Ethical dilemmas in business can also arise when employees must choose what is best for the company and themselves.
For example, a salesperson may be offered a large commission by a client in exchange for cheating on the company’s taxes. The ethical dilemma then becomes whether to accept the commission and cheat on the taxes or refuse the commission and risk losing the business.
In these cases, it is often difficult to know the ethical choice, but good employees will always try to do what they believe is right, even if it means sacrificing their interests.
Related: Examples of Ethical Leadership
How to handle ethical dilemmas at work?
Follow these steps if you want to be prepared to handle ethical dilemmas in your company.
→ Identify your ethical standards before you begin work
Making ethical decisions can be tricky, even for the most conscientious among us. When faced with a choice between right and wrong, you may find yourselves torn between our values and the demands of the situation.
However, by taking the time to understand your values, personal mission statement, and goals, you can make the process of deciding what to do much more accessible.
→ Communicate with your manager
In the business world, it is not uncommon for employees to encounter situations that they feel are ethically questionable. Whether being asked to complete a task that seems unethical or witnessing a manager behaving unethically, these situations can be challenging to navigate.
The best course of action is to always consult with your manager. This way, you can discuss the situation and reach an acceptable resolution for both parties.
→ Work with HR if necessary
Bringing up ethical dilemmas at the office can sometimes be met with no response or reaction from management. As a result, you should go directly to your human resource manager and ask them how you can best handle the situation in this situation.
→ Know when to get out
If you discover that a company you work for is engaged in unethical behavior, it is your responsibility to take action. You can start by raising your concerns with your supervisor or HR department.
It’s essential to find a company that shares your ethical values, as this will create a more positive and productive work environment. In the long run, leaving an unethical company can benefit your career and peace of mind.
The eight ethical dilemma examples discussed are just a few of the many potential situations you may face as a business owner. However, by being aware of these issues and knowing how to handle them effectively, you can minimize the damage they could potentially cause to your business.
Have you faced an ethical dilemma in your own business? We want to hear about it! Share your story in the comment section below.
What are some real-life examples of ethical dilemmas?
Here are some real-life examples of ethical dilemmas:
• Should you tell your friend if you know they are cheating on their significant other?
• Is it ethically wrong to lie to protect someone’s feelings?
• If you witness a crime, is it your ethical duty to report it to the authorities?
What is an ethical problem in the workplace?
One common ethical dilemma is the “no good deed goes unpunished” scenario. For example, imagine you are a good employee and always do your job to the best of your ability. However, one day your boss asks you to do something that goes against your morals or beliefs. What should you do?
What are some business ethics situations?
Countless business ethics situations could be enumerated, but some of the most common revolve around issues of employees and conflicts of interest. For instance, employees may find themselves in a situation where they must choose what is best for their employer and themselves.
What are some real-life examples of ethical dilemmas?
One example of an ethical dilemma is when a good employee is asked to do something against their morals. For example, an employee might be asked to cheat on behalf of the company or perform unethical tasks.
What are some scenarios that express ethics in business?
Every time employees treat a customer with respect, keep their word, or work hard to do the right thing. They’re expressing ethics in business. Always behaving ethically creates an environment where everyone can feel good about doing business.