During a day at work, people make many different decisions. These can be personal decisions or business decisions. Not all business decisions are ethical, and not all ethical decisions are business. However, business decisions are more likely to be ethical than otherwise. Campbell (2008) suggests that many business decisions have ethical elements in them. “Business decisions require, apart from one’s own judgment juxtaposed with the corporate culture and policies, an understanding of whether these decisions would produce greatest benefits with the least harm” (Fernando, 2009, p.10-5). Most business decisions affect more than one individual and more than one stakeholder. This is why they may have profound ethical implications, even when workers are not aware of them.
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Once, the employer asked me to conduct a background check of several candidates to take a supervisor position in our department. I had to check their credit and crime ratings. I had to go as deep as possible to create the fullest picture of their past. The employer had a hidden fear of frauds, and he thought that each and every employee had an inner desire to use his/her workplace position for personal enrichment. It could be a purely business decision, given the financial and corporate consequences of workplace frauds. We had to be confident that we knew everything about all job candidates. However, it also appeared to be an ethical decision: any background check of candidates’ credit ratings would inevitably violate their right to privacy.
I refused to conduct any checks, since they were not my direct responsibility. I understood that background checks were a vital element of the recruitment process, but I also realized the risks of discrimination based on their results. I understood that, in the age of technologies, no information could be regarded absolutely truthful and accurate (Hartman, 2008). Consequently, I could not assume the ethical and legal responsibility for the background checks. The employer was able to find the best candidate to take the supervisor position. I still believe that I took the best ethical and business decision I could in that situation.
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