Sharpening Your Communication Skills
Your employer makes a grand show of promoting strong ethics, with regular classes, posters in the hallways, a toll-free hotline, and more. However, as the economy has slowed down over the past few months, you’ve noticed that company managers aren’t always practicing what they preach. They’re cutting corners on product quality and squeezing suppliers by not paying bills on time. They even launched a frivolous lawsuit against an upstart competitor that will do little more than drain the new firm of funds and delay its entry into the market. This isn’t the same company you were once so proud to work for. Write a brief email message to your immediate supervisor, requesting a meeting to discuss your concerns.
Building Your Team Skills
Every organization can benefit from having a code of ethics to guide decision making. But whom should a code of ethics protect, and what should it cover? In this exercise, you and the rest of your team are going to draft a code of ethics for your college or university. Start by thinking about who will be protected by this code of ethics. What stakeholders should the school consider when making decisions? What negative effects might decisions have on these stakeholders? Then think about the kinds of situations you want your school’s code of ethics to cover. One example might be employment decisions; another might be disclosure of confidential student information. Next, using Exhibit 4.2 as a model, draft your school’s code of ethics; identify general principles and then provide specific guidelines. Write a general introduction explaining the purpose of the code and who is being protected. Next, write a positive statement to guide ethical decisions in each situation you identified earlier in this exercise. Your statement about promotion decisions, for example, might read: “School officials will encourage equal access to job promotions for all qualified candidates, with every applicant receiving fair consideration.
Compare your code of ethics with the codes drafted by your classmates. Did all the codes seek to protect the same stakeholders? What differences and similarities do you see in the statements guiding ethical decisions?
Developing Your Research Skills
Articles on corporate ethics and social responsibility regularly appear in business journals and newspapers. Find one or more articles discussing one of the following ethics or social responsibility challenges faced by a business:
· Environmental issues, such as pollution, acid rain, and hazardouswaste disposal r Employee or consumer safety measures
· Consumer information or education r Employment discrimination or diversity initiatives
· Investment ethics r Industrial spying and theft of trade secrets
· Fraud, bribery, and overcharging
· Company codes of ethics
AT&T’s Code of Ethics addresses nine areas of conduct and decision making. Selected guidelines for each of the nine principles are shown here; you can see the complete code at www.att.com (look in the “Investor Relations” section).
1. What is the nature of the ethical challenge or social responsibility issue presented in the article? Does the article report any wrongdoing by a company or agency official? Was the action illegal, unethical, or questionable? What course of action would you recommend the company or agency take to correct or improve matters now?
2. What stakeholder group(s) is affected? What lasting effects will be felt by (a) the company and (b) this stakeholder group(s)?
3. Writing a letter to the editor is one way consumers can speak their mind. Review some of the letters to the editor in newspapers or journals. Why are letters to the editor an important feature for that publication?