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We take ethical decisions every day. Ethics demands particular attention to the principles and consequences of each and every decision. Wrong decisions or unethical decisions can have serious consequences for the entire organization and its workers. I remember that, once, I faced a serious ethical dilemma. That was one of my first workplace/career experiences. I noticed that I was spending more time at work. My colleagues were facing a similar situation, and none of us received any material compensation for the extra hours spent in the workplace. Our boss was focused on efficiency and results, and we were not allowed to communicate our concerns to anybody but our supervisor. I understood that we had to change the situation and inform senior managers about the problem. However, I also knew that any attempt to go over the supervisor’s head would have far-reaching consequences for the entire department. Affected by my ethical decision could be my family members, my co-workers, and the supervisor. I was thinking about the way I could approach the problem with minimum negative consequences for my colleagues and myself. However, at that time, I was offered a position in a different company, and all I could do was to leave the job without doing anything to change the situation. At that moment, I believed it to be the most ethical decision. My family members were happy to see me back home. My colleagues were able to keep their jobs and continued their work within the company. The supervisor was lucky to avoid the legal and ethical complexities of overhead work. Now, as I look back, I understand that I could have done more than I actually did.
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The process of making ethical decisions involves a systematic analysis of each ethical dilemma (Mattison, 2000). In many aspects, an ethical decision relies on individual behaviors and values, but organizational forces also play a role (Ferrell, Fraedrich & Ferrel, 2012). Given the insight I have gained from this experience, I would still try to reach the senior manager and discuss the situation. At that time, I was limited in my decision making alternatives, but it is through the analysis of alternatives that we arrive at the best ethical conclusion (Kizza, 2010). I used to think that any ethical activity on my side would lead to negative consequences for everyone. Now I understand that I did have a chance to improve the conditions of work in our department.
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