This is a three-part paper, which is primarily your response(s) to each of the three situations listed here:
PART A prepare a report for your business:
Your assignment for this week is to write a report outlining an event or occurrence that happened to your business. This report is to be sent to the CEO/Chairman of your board or to an individual or group of individuals who control your firm. Your supervisor has asked you to write this report as if he/she were writing it. (This DOES happen) That person will get full credit for the report, and your name will never be mentioned; you know this already.
From time to time, writing can pose some ethical issues. This is uncommon but needs to be explored. This is the first part of the assignment.
You might ask abut formatting. You can be a bit creative, but you can also set this up as a memo. The event could be as simple as a person getting injured at your job site, the failure (or success) of a new process, recipe, or project, or any other issue surrounding your employment. Itâ€™s not critical that the report be truthful or factual; I am looking for your ability to communicate with and to your audience.
PART B Reflection:
The second part of this is a short (200-300 words) reflection on your feelings about this type of report writing. There is no right or wrong answer. Justify your ethical stance, however.
Ethics are the accepted principles of conduct that govern behavior within a society. Ethical behavior is a company-wide concern, but because communication efforts are the public face of a company, they are subjected to particularly rigorous scrutiny from regulators, legislators, investors, consumer groups, environmental groups, labor organizations, and anyone else affected by business activities. Ethical communication includes all relevant information, is true in every sense, and is not deceptive in any way. In contrast, unethical communication can distort the truth or manipulate audiences in a variety of ways.
Ethical communication avoids deception and provides the information audiences need.
Transparency involves giving audiences access to the information they need in order to make effective decisions.
- Plagiarism is presenting someone elseâ€™s words or other creative product as your own. Note that plagiarism can also be illegal if it violates a copyright, which is a form of legal protection for the expression of creative ideas.
- Omitting essential information. Information is essential if your audience needs it to make an intelligent, objective decision.
- Selective misquoting. Distorting or hiding the true intent of someone elseâ€™s words is unethical.
- Misrepresenting numbers. Increasing or decreasing numbers, exaggerating, altering statistics, or omitting numeric data, can unethically manipulate statistics and other data.
- Distorting visuals. Images can be manipulated in unethical ways, such as making a product seem bigger than it really is or changing the scale of graphs and charts to exaggerate or conceal differences.
- Failing to respect privacy or information security needs. Failing to respect the privacy of others or failing to adequately protect information entrusted to your care can also be considered unethical (and is sometimes illegal).
The widespread use of social media has increased the attention given to the issue of transparency, which in this context refers to a sense of openness, of giving all participants in a conversation access to the information they need in order to accurately process the messages they are receiving.
Stealth marketing is considered unethical by some observers because it prevents consumers from making fully informed decisions.
In addition to the information itself, audiences deserve to know when they are being marketed to and who is behind the messages they read or hear. For example, with stealth marketing, companies recruit people to promote products to friends and other contacts in exchange for free samples or other rewards, without requiring them to disclose the true nature of the communication. Critics, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), assert that such techniques are deceptive because they donâ€™t give targets the opportunity to raise their instinctive defenses against the persuasive powers of marketing messages.
Aside from ethical and legal concerns, trying to fool the public is simply bad for business. As LaSalle University communication professor Michael Smith puts it, â€œThe public backlash can be long, deep, and damaging to a companyâ€™s reputation.â€
Distinguishing Ethical Dilemmas from Ethical Lapses
If you must choose between two ethical alternatives, you are facing an ethical dilemma.
Some ethical questions are easy to recognize and resolve, but others are not. Deciding what is ethical in complex business situations is not always easy. An ethical dilemma involves choosing among alternatives that arenâ€™t clear-cut. Perhaps two conflicting alternatives are both ethical and valid, or perhaps the alternatives lie somewhere in the gray area between clearly right and clearly wrong. Every company has responsibilities to multiple groups of people inside and outside the firm, and those various groups often have competing interests. For instance, employees generally want higher wages and more benefits, but investors who have risked their money in the company want management to keep costs low so that profits are strong enough to drive up the stock price. Both sides have a valid ethical position.
If you choose an alternative that is unethical, you have committed an ethical lapse.
Unlike a dilemma, an ethical lapse is a clearly unethical choice. With both internal and external communication efforts, the pressure to produce results or justify decisions can make unethical communication a tempting choice. Telling a potential customer you can complete a project by a certain date when you know you canâ€™t is simply dishonest, even if you need the contract to save your career or your company. There is no ethical dilemma here.
Making Ethical Choices
Responsible employers establish clear ethical guidelines for their employees to follow.
Ensuring ethical business communication requires three elements: ethical individuals, ethical company leadership, and the appropriate policies and structures to support ethical decision making Many companies establish an explicit ethics policy by using a written code of ethics to help employees determine what is acceptable. Showing employees that the company is serious about ethical behavior is also vital.
- Have you defined the situation fairly and accurately?
- What is your intention in communicating this message?
- What impact will this message have on the people who receive it or who might be affected by it?
- Will the message achieve the greatest possible good while doing the least possible harm?
- Will the assumptions youâ€™ve made change over time? That is, will a decision that seems ethical now seem unethical in the future?
- Are you comfortable with your decision? Would you be embarrassed if it were printed in tomorrowâ€™s newspaper or spread across the Internet? Think about a person you admire and ask yourself what he or she would think of your decision.
If you ever have doubts about the legal ramifications of a message you intend to distribute, ask for guidance from your companyâ€™s legal department.
PART C an additional reflection.
Communication Ethics: Making Ethical Choices Your boss has asked you to post a message on the companyâ€™s internal blog, urging everyone in your department to donate money to the companyâ€™s favorite charity, an organization that operates a summer camp for children with physical challenges. You wind up writing a lengthy posting packed with facts and heartwarming anecdotes about the camp and the childrenâ€™s experiences. When you must work that hard to persuade your audience to take an action such as donating money to a charity, arenâ€™t you being manipulative and unethical? Explain your reasons/idea