As statistics suggest, you are likely to encounter an ethical dilemma in the workplace. Today any discrimination or unethical conduct in the workplace has been brought up to the forefront of conversations. There has been a larger discussion on certain unethical behaviors. For instance, when you encounter unethical behavior in your workplace, you don’t know exactly what to do about it.
There are a lot of unethical situations that you may become part of. Either you may be privy to the manager’s or coworker’s unethical behavior, or a manager may ask you to do something unethical. Depending on the situation, you may become a victim of unethical behavior, such as discrimination, harassment, or workplace bullying promoting toxic workplace culture.
Your immediate instinct may be to blow the whistle on the behavior. However, whistleblowing also encourages retaliation, but you become an accomplice to something ethical if you stay inactive. It is what you can call an ethical dilemma! Here are some steps to take if you happen to face an ethical dilemma.
Have Complete Clarity on the Situation
When you see one of your close colleagues speaking inappropriately to another staff member, it has been going on for some time. You may need to take stock of the situation. You would know that your colleague’s actions are wrong. But you don’t want to ruin the understanding you have developed with them over the past few years. So what should you do?
Report this situation to the human resources? The answer to the question is that you may certainly need to raise the question to them. If you aren’t too confident about it, it is important to speak with someone in the human resource department. Find out whether you can make anonymous complaints. This can help protect your identity and bring a spotlight into the matter and help the person facing the situation.
Ask Ethical Questions
If making the request aloud does not work, you can also start probing your supervisor with questions regarding the reason and motivation behind the request can very often do the trick. This is a great way of demonstrating that you make measured, informed decisions and set the ball rolling to begin the investigations.
Help With the Manager’s Best Interests
If you haven’t been the best supervisor yet, it may be time to point out that this may look bad. And if the news of the same filters out, you might have to work on it. Just pointing out the disadvantages this unethical action will make or break the manager’s career and help you be the picture of loyalty.
An Alternative Solution for the Win
After you tell your manager that you aren’t too comfortable with the situation after gaining more information, it would help provide an alternate solution. This is certainly the next best step to do if possible. Of course, it may not always be possible. But it is certainly worth giving it a shot, and you could end up looking like the good guy.
Act as a Catalyst
If the situation does not get resolved by clarifying, you may need to find out about the next person you need to inform.
Depending on the organization, this may be people like your general counsel, boss’s leadership, a compliance officer, a hotline, an auditor, or an HR representative.
Be the Whistle-Blower
If you exhaust all possible options, the issue still does not get resolved. You can try other options such as external entities like the government or the media are the next step. However, you need to exercise caution and consider the risks before taking the issue to this level.
Bringing unethical behavior to light isn’t always the most popular thing to do. Depending on the situation and the type of unethical behavior you are blowing your whistle on, you may fall under OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program cover. However, even if you are sheathed by protection, you may need to understand and evaluate its impact on your professional and personal life.
Leave the Unethical Problems Behind
If everything else fails, it may be time to leave the toxic environment of your workplace behind. Try one final, firm refusal with the ultimatum that you may eventually leave if things do not get resolved.
This may put an economic burden on you for some time. You will feel better when you have to leave suddenly since you did not have to compromise on your morals or practice any unethical behavior.