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THE ICBC ETHICS DILEMMA – HOW SHOULD WE APPROACH THE COMPETITION? OVERALL THEME A business/organization situation into which ethics is dumped. AN ETHICAL FRAMEWORK Actions can be classified as moral, ethical, legal or non-legal. MORAL Morality – What is the best way to live? Is this course of action worthwhile? Includes principles, customs, laws, guidelines, code of conduct, etc. Technical skills Shared common customs, beliefs and understandings of the community Generally considered part of ethical behaviour, it may be useful to separately consider moral issues as those which relate to non-direct employment or business related interactions between or among individuals. These actions are not illegal (as legal is defined below). An example would be having an affair with a subordinate or employer. It is unlikely that your case will solely relate to such actions. However, they could form the background to the situation in your case. For example, the end of an affair could lead to a wrongful dismissal claim or a charge of harassment, which could form the basis for your case. ETHICAL Ethics Hows and whys What makes a decision good? Why do the decisions of individuals differ? (a) Different views on reasoning Rules vs. questions (b) Different stages of moral development: Rights, universals 1
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Greatest good Obey law Obey rules I’ll scratch your back Pleasure/pain (c) Different Type of Bias Egotist Group bias – profit motive Long term/short term bias Practical solution (d) Different Individual Limitations:\ Effective freedom Psychological/Physical Intellectual Volitional – you know what the right thing to do is, but you do not do it (e) Different Horizons: Things you know about Things you don’t care about (f) Process/ Decline of a culture Ethics generally means “doing the right thing”. Ethical actions are above the level required by a legal or regulatory requirement. There are three key points with regard to ethical behaviour in business: (a) Ethical behaviour cannot be mandated. Therefore there must be a reason for a business to act in a manner which is above the legal or regulatory minimum. For example, a toy manufacturer produces a toy which meets all safety and product manufacture codes. It discovers that one of its products contains a substance which can be harmful to some children if handled in a certain manner. Should it withdraw all of the remaining toys from its inventory, and issue a recall of previously purchased toys? Should it issue a warning that the toy should not be used in the certain manner? While neither of these actions may be required by law, the company may decide to pursue one or both of these actions “as the right thing to do”. 2
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