What is the ethical dilemma in this case? Why is the not a straightforward business problem?
The problem in the case of Ruth Snyder is not merely a business case. It is an example of unacceptable behavior of a business partner. Moreover, the case provoked an ethical dilemma. The fact that a partner with whom Ruth Snyder has been working for over two years tried to make a pass at her shocked a young lady. She came across an ethical dilemma: to tell the boss about the incident and get the issue resolved, or keep it a secret and feel uncomfortable in their further work.
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In case she chooses to share the case with Robert, the Vice President of the company, she may have problems with her work. Ruth worked hard to achieve her current position. However, in the business world that is mainly male, a lady with personal problems is not a desirable employee. Moreover, Robert is known for his ability to distance himself from any problems in the company. Thus, there is a possibility that he would replace Ruth in her position and distance her from the Matrix Equity to avoid the problem in the future.
It is not a desirable outcome for Ruth because she is aware of the existing discrimination problems that exist in the business sphere despite the efforts directed at its elimination (Shih and Young 145). On the other hand, remaining silent can be treated as approval to similar actions from the side of Brian that is also unacceptable for her. In business relations, stakeholders should follow the respect-for-person principle and not violate the human rights of others (Bowie 43).
Moreover, the actions of employees and partners should be guided with virtue ethics (Beabout and Fererro 10). Similar accidents of improper behavior should be treated as a violation of ethics and be followed by corresponding consequences.
If you were in Ruth Snyder’s position what would you do? Why?
If I were in Ruth Snyder’s position, I would probably hesitate as well. I would not reconcile with Brian’s behavior. At the same time, complaining to Robert would cause problems at work. In a tough business world of men, it is difficult for a woman, even smart and educated, to build a career as an equal. I was lucky to become a partner at Fellmore Financial, but the way to my current position took 12 years after graduation from business school. It was hard work and it would not be clever to give it up in a moment. However, I have no experience in resolving issues like this one.
On the other hand, my dignity and principles of business ethics demand some actions. I would like to avoid the recurrence of the accident. Thus, I suppose I would talk to Robert and explain to him the situation. He knows me as a reliable partner who is dedicated to working. I have been working for two years to strengthen the partnership with Matrix and I believe I deserve some respect. I would not demand any drastic measures. I would just warn the Vice President that I would not tolerate any unethical behavior of Matrix representative or any other business partners. Of course, I would regret wasting my achievements at Fellmore Financial in case I lose this job as a person who does not fit in. Still, I demand being treated as a partner, not as the object of flirtation.
Why is it hard to blow the whistle?
The working climate in a company is a concern of every employee. Thus, in case any problems appear, it is important to solve them as soon as possible. Nevertheless, disclosure of a problem or “blowing the whistle” can become a complicated choice for an employee, particularly if the employee is a young woman in a male business. Despite many debates on equal opportunities and legislation to prevent gender discrimination (Wajcman 15), there is still an issue of “fitting in” for female workers. Consequently, in the case of Ruth Snyder at Fellmore Financial, a woman faced an ethical dilemma. She hesitated if it was worth informing the Vice President about the inappropriate behavior of their partner and thus state that there is a problem of gender discrimination or keep silent and stay in her position.
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This dilemma is not only about ethics and a woman being offended. It introduces the issue of deliberate silencing of some facts that can be treated as unwanted and attention to which can have unpleasant consequences. People can be aware of a problem, but as long as nobody talks about it, the problem seems not to exist. Consequently, the person who speaks the problem up, or in other words, “blows the whistle,” can become an outsider or even lose the position. That is why the concealment of ethical problems in the business sphere is frequent and becoming the person to “blow the whistle” is a difficult ethical choice. On the one hand, the person is aware of moral principles and is guided by ethical norms. On the other hand, personal interests can prevail.
From a reputational capital perspective what issues, in your view, how can Fellmore Financial and Matrix-Fellmore become much more aware of the tinder box under their feet. Why, in your view, are these firms largely oblivious to the problems like that being expressed by Ruth Snyder?
Ethics is closely related to the issue of responsibility. Moreover, unethical behavior of the company employees can lead to a lack of trust in the company as a whole that also can bring negative consequences (Coutinho de Arruda and Rok 17). Big companies should be aware of the importance of equity principles and stick to them (Flynn et al. 23). Reputational capital is gained during the years of hard work of all staff members but can be lost in a day.
Coutinho de Arruda and Rok state it is necessary to donate reputation capital to the companies “for superior socioeconomic performance” (34). Consequently, in case the company loses its reputation, negative economic outcomes will follow. Thus, the executives of Fellmore Financial and Matrix-Fellmore should be aware of the problems concerning violation of ethical norms. It can be achieved through informing them about all cases of unethical behavior of the staff members. Moreover, corporate ethics should become one of the primary concerns of the company’s policies. Such interventions can help to avoid losses in reputational capital.
In many companies, and particularly in big corporations, there is a tendency to be oblivious to the problems like that being expressed by Ruth Snyder. The reason for such situation is the focus of companies on achievements rather than personalities of the staff members who contribute to the company’s success. Moreover, there still exists the problem of gender discrimination in many spheres despite many efforts to reduce it.
Female workers entering the business world are often not treated as equals. Thus, even if they finally succeed, they avoid complaining because of the fear to be treated as weak and not fitting their positions. Consequently, they face similar ethical dilemmas and cannot choose between their moral principles and successful career.
Beabout, Gregory R., and Ignaco Ferrero, editors. Handbook of Virtue Ethics in Business and Management. Springer, 2017.
Bowie, Norman E. Business Ethics: A Kantian Perspective. 2nd ed.,Cambridge University Press, 2017.
Coutinho de Arruda, Maria Cecillia, and Boleslaw Rok. Understanding Ethics and responsibilities in s Globalizing World. Springer, 2016.
Flynn, Patricia M., et al. Overcoming Challenges to Gender Equality in the Workplace: Leadership. Routledge, 2017.
Shih, Margaret, and Maria J. Young. “Working to Reduce the Effects of Discrimination. Identity Management Strategies in Organizations.” American Psychologist, vol. 68, no. 3, 2013, pp. 145-157.
Wajcman, Judy. Managing Like a Man: Women and Men in Corporate Management. John Wiley & Sons, 2013.