It's All About Us

Ethical dilemmas occur in any kind of business where decisions are made. In making decisions, companies are compelled to consider the potential implications their decisions would have on the business as well as on their clients. If certain decisions do not auger well with clients, the business may become the ultimate loser as its loyal customers could soon start avoiding it. It is such a tricky thing that should considered by profit-making as well as non-profit firms. It must be noted that ethics is relative and significantly dependent upon the society in which a company operates. Thus, it simply means trying to conform to the ways of the present-day society. This paper investigates ethical challenges faced by organizations, their legal implications and how the organizations responded to these challenges. In addition, the paper presents an analysis of ethical theories applied in these responses (Carroll &  Buchholtz, 2008).

The profit company under consideration has a Facebook profile that it uses for purposes of marketing and networking. The Facebook profile is managed by the head of the marketing department. The manager of the profile uses it to send friend requests to potential clients and everyone else, at least to let them know about the business. Ethical issues arise on how to determine the potential clients. Being a financial institution, it should target business people with some background knowledge of finances. In this regard, the profile managers may sometimes have to check the profiles of their potential friends to ascertain their professional careers. In the process, they are bound to come across details that should be deemed personal to the client (Boatright, 2000). Recently, one of such people used an online software that can tell who views one’s profile the most. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the profit firm that had been trying to access his profile in vain.

Apparently, the potential customer had hidden some details from the public glance. And because the marketing head was not aware of this, he kept peeing into the customer’s profile hoping to get the information he wanted. To the potential customer, it was a case of broken privacy by persons who should be least interested in his personal details unless they were stalking him. And so, he went to court so that the firm could tell the court of law what exactly they wanted to know about him. In the court of law, the online software was tried out and proved to be quite accurate (Beauchamp & Bowie, 1997). Thus, it was clear that the customer was not merely making claims. Indeed, the head of marketing department of the firm acknowledged that he had looked at the guy’s profile. Forced to give an explanation of what had made him view other people’s profiles without their consent, the marketer conceded that he had not considered the ethical aspect of his actions. He noted that he had only been trying to access information regarding his profession to know if he would need financial services. However, he did not sound convincing enough given that every professional would need financial services. The marketer was then ordered to report to the police for the next five months just to ensure he did not have ill intentions with the person’s life.

A non-profit organization “Air Force Aid Society” also faced a similar dilemma in establishing in championing for the rights of members of the Air Force. The organization was situated a foreign country where the Air Force was involved in a peacekeeping mission. At the moment, the United Nations had severally accused the Air Force of making indiscriminate airstrikes that killed innocent civilians of the foreign country (Velasquez, 1988). The moral dilemma that faced the organization was whether to champion for the interests of the Air Force or innocent civilians. Besides, the fact that the organization was based in a foreign country technically made it an international organization that ought not to champion for national interests. If it were the managers to make the decision on who to defend, they would have willingly supported the innocent foreigners given that it would give them greater credibility.

However, the operations of the organization were funded by founders back at home that did not care much about foreign interests. They were Air Force retirees as well as families of people who have worked in the Air Force. They understood what risks these people had to go through on course of their duties. It was something that people could remain silent about, especially for those who were injured or killed in the war (Ruddell, 2004). It is the reason why they decided to form the organization to act as an oversight institution that would highlight the plight of the Air Force. As a result, the managers had to comply with their demands or face the sack. It was also possible that the founders of the organization would simply withdraw their funds if they realized that the organization was contemplating acting for foreigners. It was particularly a tricky situation for the managing team considering that they also had their professional ethics that they could not betray. They had grown up in social work and had been trained to appreciate that all humans are equal and that it is everyone’s moral obligation to protect each other’s rights.

This perfectly bound them to care about civilian casualties as well as members of the Air Force. However, their employers would not hear any of this because their funds were meant for members of the Air Force, and no one else. And so, when the United Nations accused the organization of being blind to the plight of civilian casualties, the managers found themselves in a rare case of ethical dilemma. They were forced to admit that their operations were limited to the plight of the Air Force. The United Nations then charged at them, noting that they could not operate in a foreign country when they were promoting partisan interests with regards to the peacekeeping efforts (French, 1995). The organization faced a lot of international bashing from different political leaders. In the end, they packed up and went back to their country as it funders still maintained a hard stance.

From a personal reflection, the organization did not act in a manner that reputable international organizations should. International organizations should always desist from blatantly promoting interests of their countries of origin, but should focus on issues of international concern. In particular, they should focus on promoting international peace and social justice for all people. If the society in which they operate does not feel that they are doing this, they reserve the rights to terminate their operations and order them out of their country (Hartley, 2004). The founders of the organization should have known this from the beginning in order to avoid the embarrassment. It portrayed them as self-seekers rather than as champions of human rights. This is because human rights have their limitations and in their pursuit, one should be mindful of others as well. The founders failed to consider this when they were formulating the missions and policies of their organization.

Thus, they left their managers in an ethical dilemma of whether to do what is professionally right or do as their masters wanted. Eventually, they acted in a manner that was likely to protect their jobs. In essence, they also failed to make a moral judgment that was mindful of other humans. In fact, they did not keep their jobs as they had thought they would. The political backlash that the group faced regarding their decision to sidestep civilian casualties who desperately needed a voice to speak for them denied them prospects of getting some other job. In my assessment of the situation, both parties failed in their responsibility to make moral judgment. They both had a good chance to save the situation by making a moral judgment, but squandered it as they were more focused on their jobs rather than social responsibility to humanity (Robbins,2009). Essentially, they ought to have struck a deal in a manner that catered for interests of both parties in the peacekeeping mission. For instance, the organization should have had two sections, one promoting the interests of the Air Force and another speaking up for civilian casualties. The other option was to cease their operations in the foreign country and exclusively operate in their country of origin. This would give them a greater credibility in their own country as well as in the international scene (Ferrell & Fraedrich, 2008).

The managers of the organization applied utilitarianism in responding to their ethical dilemma. In particular, they used the new fashion of the principle that focuses on the moral nature of the consequential events instead of a definite plan of actions. Although they were good character, they focused more on what impact their decisions would have on their personal lives. They believed that it would still be possible for them to maneuver their way around even after ignoring the plight of civilian casualties for as long as they kept their jobs. Perhaps, they might have thought of correcting the mistake that they were about to make at a later date. However, it did not get to this point because they lost their jobs immediately thereafter. They had failed to appreciate that such organizations could only succeed when there was goodwill from the people they served (McShane & Glinow, 2005). This was the reason the organization could not survive after the expose by the United Nations considering that it lost moral integrity to continue being an international civil rights organization.

In a personal assessment, the managers should have opted for virtue ethics in solving their ethical dilemma. It would have served them better and avoided a scenario whereby such an organization becomes at loggerheads with the United Nations. They should have known that it would be impossible to continue operating after the organization lost moral integrity. In running an ethical business, it is the people who matter and this should come out quite clearly. As for the profit-organization, virtue ethics would have helped them avoid the unfortunate scenario (Dalke & Ankerstar, 1995). The marketer should have considered it immoral to keep viewing people’s profiles for financial gain. They should have understood that human privacy comes before any material considerations. Indeed, there is a different type of profile that allows users to “like” a page instead of following individuals.

In conclusion, ethical dilemmas occur in any kind of businesses where decisions are made. In making decisions, businesses are compelled to consider the potential implications their decisions would have on the business as well as on their clients. The managers of the organizations applied utilitarianism in responding to their ethical dilemma. In particular, they used the new fashion of the principle that focuses on the moral nature of the consequential events instead of a definite plan of actions. They should have known that it would be impossible to continue operating after the organization lost moral integrity and opted for virtue ethics.

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