Part I: Personal and Corporate Ethics:
1. Utilizing all the decision-making theory, ethical philosophy, and practical information you have gained in this class describe how you would make this decision and why. Be sure to utilize the language of the method of decision making and ethical decision context material we discussed.
Ethicist Rushworth Kidder suggests that nine steps or checkpoints can help bring order to otherwise confusing ethical issues.
1. Recognize that there is a problem.
This step is critically important because it forces us to acknowledge that there is an issue that deserves our attention and helps us separate moral questions from disagreements about manners and social conventions. In this case the company should acknowledge that there is particular toxin in wastewater that flows out of the factory into the lake.
2. Determine the actor.
Once we have determined that there is an ethical issue, we then need to decide who is responsible for addressing the problem. Jonica Gunson is the environmental compliance manager for a small plastics manufacturing company.
3. Gather the relevant facts.
Adequate, accurate, and current information is important for making effective decisions of all kinds, including ethical ones. Details do make a difference. The factory’s emission levels are already within legal limits. However, Jonica knows that environmental regulations for this particular toxin are lagging behind scientific evidence.
4. Test for right-versus-wrong issues.
A choice is generally a poor one if it gives you a negative, gut-level reaction (the stench test), would make you uncomfortable if it appeared on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper (the frontpage test), or would violate the moral code of someone that you care a lot about (the Mom test). If your decision violates any of these criteria, you had better reconsider. In this case a scientist from the university had been quoted in the newspaper recently, saying that if emission levels stayed at this level, the fish in the lakes and rivers in the area might soon have to be declared unsafe for human consumption.
5. Test for right-versus-right values.
Many ethical dilemmas pit two core values against each other. Determine whether two good or right values are in conflict with one another in this situation. Right-versus-right value clashes include the following: ? Truth telling versus loyalty to others and institutions. Telling the truth may threaten our allegiance to another person or to an organization, such as when leaders and followers are faced with the decision of whether to blow the whistle on organizational misbehavior. Kidder believes that truth versus loyalty is the most common type of conflict involving two deeply held values.
Personal needs versus the needs of the community. Our desire to serve our immediate group or ourselves can run counter to the needs of the larger group or community. Short-term benefits versus long-term negative consequences. Sometimes satisfying the immediate needs of the group (company’s profit) can lead to long-term negative consequences (government forcing tight regulations requiring them to make monthly reports on levels of emission).
6. Apply the ethical standards and perspectives.
While most forms of utilitarianism tend to be fixed on promoting the greatest good for the greatest number, negative utilitarianism is focused on promoting the least amount of evil (or harm) for the greatest number. Some view this as a more effective ethical theory because there are more ways to do harm than good and the greatest harms have more serious consequences than the greatest goods.
In this case, the company should spend money on new technology that will reduce the level of a particular toxin in the wastewater that flows out the back of the factory and into a lake. This will mean the company to sacrifice profits that year and focus on safeguarding environment which the community benefits from since they get fish from lakes and rivers around.
7. Look for a third way.
Sometimes seemingly, irreconcilable values can be resolved through compromise or the development of a creative solution. Negotiators often seek a third way to bring competing factions together.
Make plan to let the C.E.O. know that they can still delay installation of new technology to allocate more funds available the next financial year. This would mean that the company mobilizes the companies and society at large on the plans to self regulate.
8. Make the decision.
The most ethically correct behavior is chosen by the C.E.O. given the different scenarios by the compliance manager. The best way to handle this is to delay installation of new technology since emission is still below the levels as per the regulations and at the same time the budget is tight. However, the company to involve stakeholders, i.e. the government, scientists and community to elaborate on their intention to self regulate.
9. Revisit and reflect on the decision.
Learn from your choices. Once you have moved on to other issues, stop and reflect. What lessons emerged from this case that you can apply to future decisions? What ethical issues did it raise?