Sample Business Studies Essay on Ethical Codes of Conduct

Ethical Codes of Conduct

One function of an HR manager is to hire or fire staff as they dim fit within a company. The hiring and firing process can be done to maximize or minimize profits, depending on the target of the company. It is much easier for an HR manager to turn down a job application from a new applicant than to fire an already productive staff from the company, especially if a bond has been formed between the HR manager and the staff. Jenny, being the HR manager at Omax Company is not spared from this task, as she has to decide on whom to fire between two proactive procurement staff. She has formed a personal relationship with one of the staff and together they share a common social activity. Who should Jenny fire between the two procurement staff and why? This context will evaluate business ethical codes in an attempt to assist Jenny to arrive at the best solution.

In a business-oriented environment, ethics is the polarity between doing the right thing and acknowledging what one can actually do with the power granted to them. The distinction between the two analyses greatly lies in morality; doing the right thing is considered morally upright whereas taking advantage of the power allocated to you to execute benefit interest is considered immoral (Mayhew, 2002). It is, however, essential to note that there is a thin line between ethics and morality; ethics is mostly viewed as a set of agreed rules by profession or a group whereas morality is viewed as highly transcending or personal social rules. Personal beliefs about wrong and right depict a person’s morality; for instance, a doctor may be obligated to ethically prescribe medication that is against his religious moral teaching. Failure to distinguish between moral issues and ethical standards can result in the closure of an enterprise.

In relation to this, HR managers who make decisions on their own are mostly exposed to ethical dilemmas; for instance, in the case of Jenny, she is faced with both the performance review and the recruitment and hiring dilemma (Brutno, 2006). These two dilemmas go hand in hand and involve an ethical choice whereby Jenny has to decide between the company’s needs and her personal preference. The integrity of any given performance evaluation greatly depends on fairness. When managers fail to make their targets and upright appraisals, both the company and the employees lose. HR can influence an ethical performance review based on either personal biasness or based on fairness and generous critiques. Managers who hire staff based on discrimination jeopardize the allocation of equal employment opportunities.

Putting into account Jenny’s dilemma, two different perspective arguments can be raised from the scenario depending on the company’s professional ethical values. First, even after a fair performance review between the two employees and assuming that the other employee is more competent, Jenny might still choose his incompetent friend over the other competent employee. She might settle for this decision hoping that with time, her friend will deliver, the company will still flourish, and also because her friend is needier financially than the other employee is more so with the newborn baby. In addition, her religion based on moral issues maybe stipulates that she assists the neediest in society and so in this case, her friend will retain the job. On the other hand, Jenny might decide to abide by the fair performance review thereby putting the company’s interest first. She can base her decision on the performance outcome and retain the most proactive employee without involving any favoritism.

The scope of HR however goes far beyond firing and hiring of employees. The HR personnel is subjected to higher standardized ethics since they have a great impact on staff livelihood and the production sector. The HR activities and decisions at the workplace have an influence on ethical behavior, business principles, and citizenship (Hardie, 1968). In any given company, there are policies, codes of conduct, codes of ethics, and organizational values which govern the relationship between staff and their employers. However, the integrity, values, character, and beliefs of HR managers will always have an effect on/her overall decisions when solving a dilemma (Thompson, 2007). Whichever way she decides, her choice is likely to raise an eyebrow between the two employees. The percussion of her choice is likely to be accompanied by losing a friend and retaining a proactive employee or losing a proactive employee and gaining a friend.

Let us turn to ethical theories to fully outline Jenny’s dilemmas. The first theory is that of John Stuart Mill; the utilitarian rule ethics. In this theory, John states that moral philosophy greatly depends on the consequences of an action taken to determine the right moral action. According to his views, the greatest happiness principle states that an upright action leads to the greatest number of goods and minimizes pain for the greatest number of involved people. A good action, therefore, maximizes happiness and minimizes pain (Davis, 2009). The human race has the ability to evolve into higher beings by deploying their reasoning techniques and the happiness of an individual is directly linked to that of the community. The short term and long term of action should also be taken into account before a decision is made.

Relating this ethical theory to Jenny’s case, she is likely to suffer the consequences of her actions in the long run if she chooses her incompetent friend. This is because the employer-employee relationship will turn into a personal relationship and a slight negligence in business affairs might be experienced, resulting in low production and even lower net income in the company. If no measure is taken to solve this issue, the company is likely to go bankrupt leading to its closure. As a result, sadness will be maximized, happiness minimized, and the entire community will be subjected to sadness. Note that the term ‘community’ represents Jenny’s company.

The second theory is that of Aristotle, on ethics virtue. Aristotle states that an action is only right when it is done by a good person and for the right motive. A person who upholds virtuous actions leads a smooth life because she lives in accordance with human beings’ purpose. To establish whether an action is right or wrong, it is essential to consider the kind of person engaging in the action. He argues that the optimum reason why people partake in any action is to acquire happiness and that it is not easy to remain in a virtuous state. He emphasizes that an individual simply cannot do something good once to earn the virtuous label, but sees it as an endless process and adds that one can advance into a virtuous person through habit. According to his explanation, we learn things by doing them, we get temperate by doing temperate acts, we become brave by doing brave things and we become just by doing just acts.

Connecting this ethical theory to Jenny’s situation, her decision will greatly depend on the agenda of her motive. If she is really a virtuous person, then she will not find her situation as much of a dilemma since she has already developed the habit of being in the virtuous state and so the expected logical right action will follow soot smoothly. In addition, if her motive is to remain close to her friend at the workplace and fire a competent worker, then she is not a virtuous woman. It is true that Jenny’s friend, having a newborn baby requires more financial support than the other employee; but according to Aristotle ethical theory, it is not moral in accordance to human beings purpose, after all, Jenny can always assist her friend find another job which matches with his competency level.

Based on discussions from this context, I would advise Jenny to retain the other employee and let go of his friend. Business should not be mixed with friendship, or else it is doomed to fall apart sooner than later. This decision will not only be good for the company, but it will favor Jenny as well. By retaining the competent employee, Jenny will be adhering to the business codes of contact and ethical codes; she will be practicing upright moral behavior and also complying with the two discussed theories of ethics. By retaining the competent employee, her personal career, and that of the entire company is in good hands, the business will flourish and happiness will be maximized on both sides with the greatest number of good people will benefit. I personally believe that Jenny should focus more on what is right other than using the power entrusted to her to achieve her own interest.

To summarize this discussion, it is only natural that the HR manager will always face dilemmas in a company but it is important that with each dilemma that crops out, the HR should solve the dilemma with supreme integrity and honesty. HR should also embrace the practices, which contribute to ethical behavior such as adopting fair treatment among employees, fostering equal pay for equal work, encouraging mutual respect among employees, and embracing diversity as part of the company’s staff. In addition, before solving any dilemma, they should think of the after-month repercussions which might arise from the decision made. A diplomatic HR manager is one who holds high integrity, is fair, morally upright, and upholds the codes of ethics.

References

Brunot, T. (2006). Ethical Issues Facing HR. Business & Entrepreneurship. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from http://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/ethical-issues-facing-hr-10453.html

Davis, T. S. (2009). Diversity Practice in Social Work: Examining Theory in Practice. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 18(1-2), 40-69.

Hardie, W. F. (1968). Aristotle’s ethical theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Heathfield, S. M. (n.d.). Did You Bring Your Ethics to Work Today?. About.com Human Resources. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from http://humanresources.about.com/od/businessethics/qt/workplace-ethics.htm

Mayhew, R. (2002). How to Deal With HR Issues of Discrimination. Business & Entrepreneurship. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from http://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/deal-hr-issues-discrimination-1394.html

Thompson, S. (2007). What Are the Differences Between Ethical Issues & Moral Issues in Business?. Business & Entrepreneurship. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from http://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/differences-between-ethical-issues-moral-issues-business-1737.html