Identify and explain a potential ethical dilemma facing a real-world organization and discuss the current relevance of the issue.
By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and assessment criteria:
• Competency 1: Evaluate the parameters for ethical decision making in 21st century multicultural business environments.
o Describe an ethical issue that can be resolved by an organizational policy.
o Evaluate why an organizational policy would be needed to resolve an ethical issue.
o Examine the current relevance of an ethical issue.
o Evaluate the importance of resolving an ethical issue.
The word ethics usually evokes a strong emotional reaction or opinion from most people. Having a keen eye and observing reactions (yours as well as others’) in a nonjudgmental manner will serve you best as you pursue the objectives of this course.
Business ethics can be a gray area. As conditions and environments change, people’s behaviors change. The regulations intended to create fair standards in the world of business also subsequently change. Examining the hard-to-define parameters of ethics should help us to develop our perceptiveness and skills in analyzing the best solutions to ethical dilemmas.
There are a range of models for ethical decision making and analysis of ethical dilemmas. Different prevailing theories underlay the reasoning approaches to ethical issues and challenges. No one approach is considered best for all situations. However, by knowing these approaches, and applying them to different ethical problems, you can become a valuable participant in creating ethical solutions.
A person cannot evaluate the ethicality of organizational policies until he or she identifies the issues that those policies are intended to address. In this assessment, you will do just that.
Complete the following:
• Identify a potential ethical dilemma from a real-world organization. As an example of an ethical dilemma, consider the following scenario: an organization may choose to videotape the office and read employee e-mails. The conflict here may be that employees feel these practices are a violation of their privacy, and that they have a right to a certain level of privacy. However, organizational stakeholders defend these practices because their concern is whether the employees are getting their work done.
o Choose any organization about which you can find sufficient information to complete the assessment. For example, you might use the organization for which you currently work, where you used to work, or where an associate of yours works.
o If there is any concern with disclosing confidential information, substitute a made-up name for the organization’s name and indicate you are doing so.
o The ethical issue or problem selected must affect the organization, potentially affect the organization, or involve the organization.
• Explain the issues involved, including the following:
o Identify the stakeholders.
o Identify the concerns of the stakeholders.
• Explain why you chose this particular issue and why the issue is important.
• Examine the current relevance of the issue.
o Is the issue currently in the media spotlight?
o Are there any recent incidents or reasons why this issue has come to the public’s attention?
Questions to Consider-
To deepen your understanding, you are encouraged to consider the questions below and discuss them with a fellow learner, a work associate, an interested friend, or a member of the business community.
• Based on your experience, which of the following dimensions do you think has influenced the biggest changes in business ethics over the last decade?
o Individually unethical persons.
o More complex situations without sufficient guidelines.
o Inadequate laws.
o Unreasonable organizational goals.
• Consider the number of crisis situations you have experienced. Reflect on the crisis response process, and whether all stakeholders were well served in a fair and ethical manner. Analyze whether it was the best response for all stakeholders involved.
• Based on your experience, do you think regulations work to maintain an ethical environment, or do you think people are the central drivers of creating ethical cultures? Consider whether the implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (often referred to as SOX) supports ethical behavior. You are encouraged to review Title III of SOX. Do you think SOX worked for financial institutions in the recent financial crisis? You might also refer to the “CEO and CFO Rules” section of Chapter 1, “The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: How We Got Here, and What It Means,” from the The Complete Guide to Sarbanes-Oxley e-book.
The following optional resources are provided to support you in completing the assessment or to provide a helpful context.
• Rendtorff, J. D. (2009). Responsibility, ethics and legitimacy of corporations. Copenhagen, Denmark: Copenhagen Business School Press. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.library.capella.edu/lib/capella/docDetail.action?docID=10465558
o Parts 1 and 2 are particularly applicable to this assessment.
• Bainbridge, S. M. (2007). The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: How we got here, and what it means. In The complete guide to Sarbanes-Oxley (pp. 1–37) . Cincinnati, OH: F+W Media. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.library.capella.edu/lib/capella/docDetail.action?docID=10313798&p00=Sarbanes-Oxley
You are encouraged to refer to the resources in the BUS-FP4801 – Ethics and Enterprise Library Guide to help direct your research.
Ethical Issue Identification: Walmart Employee Gender Discrimination
One of the world’s largest retailers, Walmart, faces various ethical issues related to employee treatment, pay issues, equal opportunities, and gender discrimination. In 2011, the Supreme Court rule favored Walmart, blocking a lawsuit incriminating the giant retailer for gender discrimination (Sainato, 2019). However, in 2019, the allegations resurfaced again with female employees dissatisfied with their treatment at the retailer. About 100 workers participated in a lawsuit alleging that Walmart failed to comply with gender parity requirements. Dissatisfied Walmart employees claimed that the company blocked female workers from equal pay and career-growth opportunities (Sainato, 2019). Walmart’s failure to match employee pay, growth issues and its inability to treat employees equally result in a dire gender issue that will affect employees’ productivity and commitment in the future. Whereas employee workplace policies require organizations to address gender parity issues sanely, Walmart continuously overlooks this requirement, finding itself facing several lawsuits and tainting its ethical perspective.
Issues Involved: Stakeholders and Stakeholder Concern
Despite the many attempts to address workplace gender issues, many organizations have failed to conform to these requirements. For instance, Walmart’s gender discrimination lawsuits in 2011 and 2019 underlined the retailer’s disregard for gender parity and the need for ethical workplace policies to safeguard all employees from discrimination and unfair treatment. In the workplace, all employees expect equal treatment. However, according to Verniers and Vala (2018), evidence suggests that many workplaces discriminate against women with sexist attitudes and discriminatory practices often directed at them. Gender discrimination in the workplace reflects bigger problems than just mistreatment. Organizational policies, institutional measures, and anti-discrimination laws all fail to protect women from gender discrimination (Verniers & Vala, 2018). In the workplace, women argue that organizations discriminate them due to prejudice expressions in the context of social and political values. The social dominance theory claims that legitimizing myths and adhering to them promotes social stereotypes, political conservatism, and meritocracy (Verniers & Vala, 2018). According to the theory, workplace adherence to legitimizing myths automatically promotes gender discrimination and negates these workplaces’ ethical aspects. In Walmart’s case, female employees teamed up to claim that the firm paid male departmental managers more than their female counterparts, despite performing similar duties and equally essential responsibilities (Sainato, 2019). The workers also cited career mobility issues as part of the problems they faced while working at Walmart. Specifically, the women pointed out that male workers received attractive upward mobility packs, but female workers received none of these offers (Sainato, 2019). The emergence of gender discrimination issues at Walmart brings ethical considerations into perspective and its culture concerning ethical practices and employees’ welfare.
Why the Issue is Important
Since organizations seek to improve employees’ productivity to maximize output and profitability, gender discrimination in the workplace receives global attention due to its contribution to job satisfaction. At the workplace, workers look for opportunities to improve their skills, control their work conditions, and participate in effective decision-making (Plickert & Sterling, 2017). Organizations that support employees’ quest to enhance decision-making, skills improvement, and job control usually benefit from high employee motivation while job satisfaction improves employee relations. Conforming to sufficient worker discretion motivates employees and enhances workplace job satisfaction. However, failing to support employee job satisfaction through discriminatory work practices lowers job satisfaction levels, hinders productivity, and threatens the ability to meet business goals and objectives. Organizations should deal with gender discrimination issues in the workplace to improve employee adherence to demanding work conditions. According to Plickert and Sterling (2017), organizational failure to address quality and equal opportunity issues affects employees’ ability to respond to demanding work schedules. With employees feeling less motivated due to workplace ethical challenges hindering their job satisfaction, the discriminated employees give in to demanding work conditions, creating room for low productivity. As a result, contemporary organizations should appropriately handle gender discrimination issues or risk reduced work productivity, low output, and frequent lawsuits such as Walmart’s case.
Issue Relevance in Contemporary World
Workplace employee parity generates sufficient media attention, and this attention underlines the need for organizations such as Walmart to tackle this ethical issue. Walmart’s hiring practices have come into the limelight with female employees, indicating that the retailer hires women into associate positions while men join departmental roles (Sainato, 2019). Sonnemaker (2021) pointed out that Google agreed to pay $2.6 million as compensation regarding gender and racially-discriminating hiring practices. The U.S. Department of Labor required Google to pay this amount after a gender pay equity study revealed that the company discriminates employees based on their race and gender. According to Sonnemaker (2021), Google disregards executive orders that block organizations from practicing discriminatory hiring practices. Google’s compensation claim and Walmart’s gender discrimination lawsuit, among other workplace gender discrimination issues, underline contemporary organization disregard for ethical practices. Recent gender discrimination issues in the media point out ways organizations overlook ethical policies and the ethical challenges employees face in these organizations.
While employee workplace policies require organizations to address ethical issues that may lead to gender discrimination, Walmart continuously overlooks this requirement, finding itself facing several lawsuits, which taint the firm’s ethical perspective. Gender discrimination surfaces as an ethical issue, which, if not addressed, can hinder an organization-employee relationship. Media spotlights on this issue expose those organizations that disregard employees’ ethical treatment and lack appropriate policies to tackle ethical challenges.
Plickert, G., & Sterling, J. (2017). Gender still matters: Effects of workplace discrimination on
employment schedules of young professionals. Laws, 6(4), 28.
Sainato, M. (2019, February 18). Walmart facing gender discrimination lawsuits from female
employees. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/feb/18/walmart-gender-discrimination-supreme-court.
Sonnemaker, T. (2021, February 2). Google will pay $2.6 million to workers over claims its
hiring and pay practices were biased against women and Asians. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.in/tech/news/google-will-pay-2-6-million-to-workers-over-claims-its-hiring-and-pay-practices-were-biased-against-women-and-asians/articleshow/80641455.cms.
Verniers, C., & Vala, J. (2018). Justifying gender discrimination in the workplace: The
mediating role of motherhood myths. PloS One, 13(1), e0190657.