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Ethics Questions (11)

Answer 11 Questions on Ethics…prompts are included.

1. Imagine that it’s your responsibility to select an ethics officer for your organization. What qualities, background, and experience would you look for? Why? Would you ever be interested in such a position? Why or why not?

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Some things to consider in answering the question:

·         “What sorts of ethical issues will an ethics officer in your organization have to decide or resolve?”

·         “Is there technical knowledge required? How could a non-technical person acquire the knowledge necessary to resolve issues?”

·         “Is a background in the law essential?”

·         “Could a young person — under age 35 — do the job, or would employees be more comfortable with an older person?”

·         “What kind of experience within your company would make the most well-rounded ethics officer?”

·         “How could an outsider gain credibility within your organization?”

·         “Is there anything which could bar an insider from the job of ethics officer?”

2. Should the Ethics Officer report to the company’s chief executive officer, the legal department, human resources office or the audit department? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Some things to consider in answering the question: 

·         “Think about the mission of all of the departments listed — legal, audit, human resources, the CEO — what are the risks associated with raising an issue with each of the departments?”

·         “What advice could each provide?”

·         “What protection could each provide?”

3. Think about an organization where you’ve worked. What kinds of ethical dilemmas are unique to that organization? To that industry? What might be the best way to prepare employees to deal with those issues?

Some things to consider in answering the question: 

·         “Is your/their industry regulated? By whom?”

·         “What do the regulators think are the biggest problems in your/their industry?”

·         “Is there something in your/their corporate culture that could put your/their company at increased risk for an ethical problem?”

·         “Is there any aspect of your/their company or industry that has been criticized by the media or the public?” 

4. Which of the following exist in the organization? Mission or values statement, policy manual, code of conduct, ethics training (who conducts it), hotline? Are they consistent and credible? Discuss.

Some things to consider in answering the question:

·         “Do all employees receive copies of the policy manual, values or mission statement, conduct code?”

·         “Does everyone receive ethics training?”

·         “Have you/they ever read the policy manual or conduct code or other materials relating to ethics?”

·         “Is your/their company saying one thing in its printed materials and doing another?”

·         “Who conducts ethics training in your/their organization? Are they — to the best of your/their knowledge — ethical?”

·         “Who answers the company hotline? Who resolves the issues raised on the hotline? Is the hotline confidential?”

5. Does senior management appear committed to ethics? How do you/they know? What could they do differently or better?

Some things to consider in answering the question:

“Do senior managers ever write articles on ethics for company communications (newsletters or magazines)?”

·         “Do they ever reference ethical behavior in speeches or orientations?”

·         “Is any senior executive “known” for his or her integrity?”

·         “Is there a senior executive who is especially trusted by employees?”

6. Are leaders at all levels of the organization held accountable for their ethical conduct? If so, how? If not, why not? What would you recommend?

Some things to consider in answering the question: 

·         “Can you think of any employees within your organization who have been fired or disciplined for their behavior or for unethical conduct? How did you find out about it?”

·         “How long after the problem occurred did it take for them to be disciplined? Who actually did the firing?”

·         “How did other employees interpret the discipline — what messages did it send?”

·         “Has anyone been commended for his or her high ethical conduct? What form did the praise or commendation take? How did other employees interpret it — what messages did it send?”

7. What recommendations would you make for handling frivolous calls that come in to a hotline?

Some things to consider in answering the question:

·         “How would you define a frivolous call?”

·         “Are problems relating to human resources issues — arguments with supervisors, for example — frivolous?”

·         “Could employees calling with frivolous complaints be penalized? Should they be? Should their managers be notified?”

8. Does the organization evaluate its ethics initiatives? How? If not, why not?

Some things to consider in answering the question:

·         “Have you ever received an employee survey that has tried to assess your attitudes toward ethical issues?”

·         “Have you ever participated in employee focus groups that have involved ethics?”

·         “Have you ever read about any ethics evaluations efforts in your company newsletter or magazine?”

·         “Have your company’s senior executives ever distributed reports on how the organization’s ethics program is doing?”

9. How would you raise an ethical concern in this organization? List all of the resources available. Which ones would you/they likely use? Why or why not?

Some things to consider in answering the question:

·         “How would the following people/departments react if you were to raise an ethics issue: your manager, your manager’s manager, the legal department, the human resources department, the audit department, the ethics officer/department, the chief financial officer, the head of public relations/communications, the head of your division/department, the president of your organization, the CEO, the board of directors?”

·         “If you had to go outside of your chain of command, who would you approach and why?”

·         “Under what circumstances would you approach any of the above?”

10. Imagine that you’re the CEO of a small manufacturing company. An employee has dumped toxic waste in a nearby stream. What would you do? Who would you call into your office and what would you want to know? Develop a short-term and long-term action plan for dealing with the crisis. Who would you communicate with and why?

Some things to consider in answering the question:

·         “Who are the stakeholders in this situation?”

·         “Who on your staff (which kind of job) could you count on to handle each stakeholder group?

·         “Does your strategy for coping with the disaster address the needs of all stakeholders?”

·         “Does your plan include being forthright, accepting responsibility, and making some sort of restitution to effected stakeholders?”

11. Evaluate the ethics program at your/their organization from the perspective of “fit.” Has the ethics program been designed to “fit” the organization’s overall culture? If so, how? If not, what could be done to make the program a better fit?

Some things to consider in answering the question:

·         “What are the three most key values in your/their organization?”

·         “Are workers rewarded for exhibiting those values?”

·         “Is your/their organization’s ethics program consistent with what your/their company rewards?”

Questions are from:


Straight Talk About How To Do It Right

Linda K. Trevino

Katherine A. Nelson

Fourth Edition

John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Copyright 2007 

ISBN 0-471-75525-7

P. 351 


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