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Right v.

HR Ethics
HR Ethics
 No well-established mandatory
professional standards

 Ethics and business knowledge as

important as HR domain expertise

 Each situation requires a judgment

Analyzing HR Dilemmas
 Right v. Wrong
“No one will know if I do not pay
taxes on this under-the-table income,
so I can save myself quite a bit of

 Right v. Right
Selecting the best option
Types of Right v. Right
 Truth v. Loyalty

 Individual v. Community

 Short-Term v. Long-Term

 Justice v. Mercy
Examples of Right v. Right
 It’s right to tell the truth, but it is also right to be
kind and considerate of peoples’ feelings and
 It’s right to apply rules and procedures equally,
without favoritism, but it is also right to give
special treatment to hard-working, dependable,
and productive employees.
Examples of Right v. Right
Dilemmas (cont’d)
 It’s right to spend more time adding more quality
to your work but it is also right to meet deadlines
and avoid “diminishing returns” on your efforts.

 It’s right to be concerned about short-term

results, but it is also right to focus on long-term
growth and stability.
Examples of Right v. Right
Dilemmas (cont’d)
 It’s right not to share information
given to you in confidence, but it is
also right to report violations of
laws, rules, and ethical standards.
Resolving Right v. Right
Three decision rules for thinking through
any Right v. Right dilemma:

 Ends-based thinking
 Rule-based thinking
 Care-based thinking
Managing Right v. Right
Three basic strategies to pursue:

1. Eliminate the conflict

2. Decide what’s “more right”
3. Seek assistance
Common Ethical Dilemmas
Faced by HR Professionals

 Employee references

 Safety hazards

 Financial dealings
Common Ethical Dilemmas
Faced by HR Professionals

 Confidentiality of information
 During employment investigations

 Knowledge of agency developments

 Knowledge of employee medical

Common Ethical Dilemmas
Faced by HR Professionals
 Showing respect for copyrights,
sources, and intellectual property
 Ensuring truth in claims, data, and
 Balancing organizational and
individual needs and interests
 Showing respect for, interest in, and
representation of individual and
population differences
Ethics Advice for HR
 Know what you believe. Clearly think through
what is legally and morally right and wrong.
Understand why you believe what you
 Develop your ability to influence. Be prepared
to offer creative solutions to difficult
 Be able to walk away if your ethical standards
are jeopardized.
The Ethical Action Test
 Is it legal?
 Does it comply with our rules and
 Is it in sync with our organizational
 Will I be comfortable and guilt-free if
I do it?
The Ethical Action Test
 Does it match our stated commitments
and guarantees?
 Would I do it to my family and friends?
 Would I be perfectly okay with someone
doing it to me?
 Would the most ethical person I know do
Case Study
 “You do in the game like you do in
 Small table discussions about the
case study to identify and suggest
resolutions for Right v. Right
 Large group discussion
Case Study (cont’d)
 The HR Manager of the company was
recently notified by the Training
Director that employees have been
experiencing a rash of theft of personal
articles from the company’s training
room over the past several months.
Based on feedback the HR Manager and
Training Director have received, there is
an employee of the organization who is
suspected of the thefts.
Case Study (cont’d)
 The organization’s security department has
suggested two possible courses of action to
catch the guilty party.
1. Place a video camera in the training room
so the agency can videotape the guilty
party and therefore catch him or her in
the act;
Case Study (cont’d)
2. Set a trap for the guilty person. Leave what appears to
be a birthday card with money for another employee on
one of the training room tables. The security department
wants to coat the card envelope and the money with a
special dust that becomes visible under a screening
device that will be used on each of the agency’s
departing employees the day the envelope disappears.
The person, whose hands show the dust, would then be
searched for the money, which had also been coated with
this dust.
Case Study (Cont’d)
 What should the HR Manager and
the Training Director do? What are
the legal implications for each
possible course of action? What
are the actions an agency
should/could take when an
employee is suspected of theft?