Ethical Dilemmas in Business
Case 2: Kathryn McNeil (A)
Charles Foley’s Ethical Dilemma
At stake here are several conflicting values, the concern for a fellow human being, self-preservation, success of the company and the pressure to perform. As VP of the division, I am under scrutiny to deliver substantial results to my president, John Edmonds, to be seen as sensitive to my product managers needs. Lisa Walters, Kathryn’s supervisor, has pressed me for a resource action for boosting staff morale and replacing her with someone who can be more productive. I also feel that Kathryn McNeil is a hard worker who is stuck in a tricky personal situation.
My Approach to the Ethical Dilemma
How am I to satisfy Lisa Walters request to dispose of Kathryn? Should I sacrifice my career in order to do what is right by Kathryn? Should I be ruthless and fire Kathryn? What would a perfectly ethical manager do?
It would help to draw from a theory of ethics that can serve as the basis of practical reasoning and include ways of judging how to reduce ethical transgressions and advance ethical practice in business, rather than aiming only at the characterization of perfectly ethical managers. Such a theory does not exist, but elements from the theory of justice by Amartya Sen, and the teachings of Socrates, John Stuart Mill and Kant can help me arrive at an idea of comparative justice: judgments that can help navigate the seas of ethical dilemmas in business, such as the one presently at hand. In the analysis presented in this paper, diagnosis of injustice, identification and compartmentalization of motives of key players will figure often as anchors for support of my final recommendation.
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill would argue that Kathryn’s absences from work are correct in that they advance her happiness but are incorrect in the measure of anguish they create for management. In a somewhat extreme viewpoint, Mill would also argue against...