You are the ethics officer at Friendly Digits, a respected and profitable social media company in Colossal Corporation’s technology group. Friday morning, you arrive at your office to find you’ve received a voicemail from Ernst Blofeld. Blofeld has been a vice president at Friendly Digits for several years, and was recently considered for promotion to a senior vice president position. Ultimately, the promotion was awarded to another long term employee, Tara King. You find it difficult to make out some of Blofeld’s message. The words are occasionally slurred, as though he may have had a little too much to drink. I’m in Palm Springs for a conference, he explains, and I ran into a nice couple here at the hotel bar. You’d never believe it, but they’re old friends of Tara’s from school. I told them about her promotion, and they said she never finished her degree. She dropped out of the MBA program they all attended, and they never saw her again. You have to get to HR to check this out for me.
You check Friendly Digits policy manual, which states that potential employees must submit transcripts for all degrees listed on their resumes. But this requirement was not in place 10 years ago when Tara King was hired. King has received excellent performance evaluations during her time at Friendly Digits, and her leadership has led to increased revenue and positive press for the company. Her record of success is what led to her promotion. After a brief consultation with Mindy Wu, the director of human resources, you telephone King. Based on current HR policy, we’re asking all employees who don’t have official transcripts on file, to submit them to the human resources department. There is a silence at King’s end, then in a shaky voice, she tells you that she does not in fact have an MBA. I was 12 credits away from completing my degree, she says, but then my dad got sick and I had to drop out. I really needed a job to support my family. I put the MBA on my resume because I hoped it would help me get hired. I always intended to go back to school, but I never did. It was a really stressful time.
You tell King that you need a little time to think about the situation. You promise to call her back as soon as possible. You know that an MBA was not a requirement for the assistant project specialist job King was hired for 10 years ago. But four years ago, it was made a requirement for the senior vice president position she holds now. Two of the current senior vice presidents do not have MBA degrees, because they were promoted before this requirement was in place. Mindy Wu has asked you to write a memo with your recommendations on how human resources should handle this issue. King has a record of excellence with Friendly Digits, and her superiors would be unhappy to lose her.
If your memo addresses the Badaracco Framework and the legal issues, remember the Badaracco framework is intended to be used to analyze a certain kind of problem, specifically a “right versus right” problem.
Identify the stakeholders and determine whether some are more important than others.
Determine whether all stakeholders have been consulted on the business decision at hand.
Describe the possible actions of the stakeholders following the business decision.
In addition you are applying the ethical tests below to evaluate possible business decisions in light of the following ethical tests to identify the best possible decision:
Rights, Justice and fairness, virtues, common good, and utilitarian
Identify the best possible decision and justify your choice with reference to the ethical approach on which you have based it. Sufficiently utilize some of these theories to analyze the situation and come to a conclusion.
Before beginning the memo you should review the four questions and three tests of the Badaracco’s right v. right framework in detail. You are required to analyze the scenario by specifically addressing both Badaracco’s four questions and his three tests.
The four questions are:
Which way of proceeding is going to achieve the best net-net consequences?
Whose rights must be respected?
What messages will this decision send about the ideals and principles I/we stand for?
What will work in the world as it is?
The 3 tests are:
The newspaper test:
Ask yourself what plan of action for dealing with the problem in front of you is going to work best if it’s going to appear of the front page of your local paper—let’s say, tomorrow. That’s a way of picking up on all the consequences of your act, and it’s a way of looking at things in this kind of pragmatic, Machiavellian, what’s-really-going-to-work sense.
The golden rule (or its variations) test:
To walk a mile in the other person’s shoes. That’s a way of picking up on other people’s rights that you may be overlooking, because you’re the decision-maker, you’re in a position of authority and you’re under pressure to get a decision done. And the final question has different versions.
The best friend test:
Ask yourself how you would like somebody who knows you well, whose respect matters to you, to look at you a few years down the road, and think about how you made the decision. That’s a way of really putting a spotlight on the character issues—your character, the character of the organization you’re trying to shape.
You must apply Badaracco’s framework to some or all of the following situations:
Terminating King from her position;
Allowing King to keep the promotion (likely with some stipulation of completing here MBA);
Demoting King, but allowing her to keep some employment
Make sure that your discussion uses all 4 questions and all 3 tests together. These questions balance each other and all have to be used together in order to arrive at a sound decision. As you work through the Badaracco questions and tests, articulate assumptions regarding potentially important points not explicitly defined in the scenario. After identifying the best possible decision you must justify your choice with reference to the ethical approach on which you have based it and come to a conclusion.
Your task is to communicate your findings to the vice president via memo. To be complete there must be a clearly stated, reasonably supported recommendation somewhere in the memo. As Badaracco notes, “the payoff question is, what do we do?”
Exhibit the capacity to identify the legal issues
Exhibit the capacity to research and evaluate legal issues, draw conclusions and provide recommendations
In addition to ensuring that the substance of your responses to the three questions is accurate.
To convey your message effectively your written memorandum should be concise, well organized, grammatically correct, effective and persuasive and demonstrate superior facility with the conventions of standard written English.
Step 1: Ethical Analysis
The ethical aspects of King’s situation seem complex, and you realize that you need a structured way to think through the various possibilities and their implications. You know that there are many different schools of ethical thought and a variety of frameworks or approaches for analyzing ethical problems, but you decide that the best approach to this particular situation is Badaracco’s Right vs. Right Framework.
Work through the Badaracco ethical analysis, considering the various options for action and the winners and losers for each option. What are your recommendations for the best ethical course of action?
When you’ve finished analyzing the ethical aspects of this case, continue to the next step, in which you’ll consider any legal issues that could affect your decisions.
Step 2: Legal Analysis
In addition to the ethical aspects of King’s situation, there may be legal implications that the human resources department needs to account for before moving forward with any plan of action. You realize that you need to review any relevant information about fraud that might affect what could or should be done about King, including employment at will.
Now that you’ve worked through possible legal implications and arrived at a recommended course of action for Friendly Digits’ HR department, it’s time to present your analysis, recommendations, and action plan in a memo to Mindy Wu, the director of HR.
Using the Badaracco framework and your legal analysis, prepare a memo for HR.
SAMPLE MEMORANDUM FORMAT
To: Mindy Wu, Director of HR
cc: Head of Departments
From: Ethics Officer, Friendly Digits
Subject: Embellished Resume
You must also include APA-formatted in-text citations and an APA-formatted reference list (do not format the body of the memo using APA style, just the reference list). See references and citations for details.
Include a specific recommendation on what actions, if any, HR should take based on your analysis and conclusions.
The memo should be no more than 10 pages (double spaced, 12-point font; the reference list does not count towards page limit).