November 16, 2014
Ethical dilemmas arise on a daily basis, and so it is almost guaranteed that an individual will eventually come to be faced with one in the workplace. While societal conventions can make these situations difficult to navigate, one can be prepared by having a proper knowledge of ethical theories to aid in understanding and assessing the situation. This can ensure that we are equipped to weigh the options and uphold our personal values, beliefs, and morals while behaving in the most correct and professional way. While I’m sure there will be more to come, the following is an example of an ethical dilemma that I will analyze to see if I took the right course of action.
Briefly describe the basic details of the case, and identify and discuss the main business ethics issues involved
This past summer I was employed as a full time marketing intern in a summer program for university students at a successful Information Technology firm. It was a full time position, working from 9AM-5PM every weekday. I was one of two interns, the other being a female coworker who was also a university student, although one year older than me. Over the course of the summer we worked closely and eventually developed a friendship. August brought about the end of our three-month contract, after which we would each go our separate ways back to our respective schools. During the last week of our internship, I began to notice my coworker taking more supplies from the supply room than necessary. If we had a days worth of work to complete, she would take a fresh pen for each new activity, even if the old pens were still full enough to continue using. She did the same for highlighters when proofreading documents, and pads of sticky notes when jotting down ideas, while the other supplies were nowhere to be seen after their short use. One day we had been working later than usual and so most of the other employees had already gone home. We were about to exit the building when she said she needed to stop by the supply room to grab a notebook, since we would be working remotely the next day, and insisted that I go ahead and leave without her. Grabbing a notebook would have taken just a few seconds, and her suspicious way of insisting that I do not come led me to believe that she intended on taking more than just 1 notebook. I said okay, but ultimately decided to stay and wait for her since it was late and dark out, and safer to walk to our cars together. My coworker spent at least 5 minutes in the supply room and looked shocked to see that I had waited for her, stuttering about how she couldn’t find a notebook even though they were the most prominently displayed item in the room. I gave her a knowing look and said “just one notebook, right?” after which she let me in on her secret- she collected a few supplies from the office so that she wouldn’t have to go buy them on her own when she went back to school the following week. She went on to say, “we might as well”, since they were readily available and we need to save money more than the company does. I knew that she had taken more than what was justifiably “a few” supplies or necessary amount to complete her job, which led me to assess the ethical dilemma at hand.
Evaluate these options using theory discussed in this chapter
Since I was the only employee who worked closely with the other intern, I was also the only person to know of her stealing supplies. This meant that it was up to me to decide what course of action to take. I had to choose one of two options:
1. Tell Jasmine what she was doing was wrong, and make sure she replaces the stolen supplies. If that doesn’t work, tell a superior or our manager about the situation and leave her fate in their hands.
2. Express distaste for her actions but ultimately do nothing and tell no one.
What decision was finally made? To what extent do you believe that this was the best option, and why