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Workplace Ethical Dilemmas

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As globalization sweeps companies and workplaces become more diverse, differences in how employees view proper behavior at work can create seemingly irresolvable conflicts. However, companies can create written standards for ethics that outline problems and give managers the tools to address them.


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Ethics--“the science of conduct,” according to some philosophers--is differentiating between right and wrong and then doing the right thing. Ethical problems in the workplace can include questions of pay raises and promotions, employee discrimination, disciplinary action, harassment, conflicts of interest and other issues.


Questions of ethics can be as clear-cut as whether or not to fire an employee for stealing, but they are often more complex and require deeper consideration by supervisors. According to a National Business Ethics Survey in 2000, 90 percent of companies offer written materials that outline proper ethical conduct.


Although business experts have devised different ways to deal with the problems that managers face, Joshua Joseph of the Ethics Resource Center offers seven areas of opportunity for managers to retain optimal ethical standards: high-quality recruits, a productive work environment, company reputation, workers’ trust, a discussion-encouraging environment, ethical guidance for employees and a company mission.