Can workplace bullying represent a health and safety issue? Explain your answer and use the case study to support your answer .
Explain what is meant by the term “conflict of interest”, and why such a conflict might lead to unethical decision-making. Are there examples of conflicts of interest in the case study )?
How many theories of ethics can you find in the AAA ethical decision making model? Support your answer by using examples from the case study .
What steps should a whistleblower take to ensure he or she is acting in an ethical manner? Did the whistleblower in the case study do any of these?).
In the Origin Energy case, senior management might have had a conflict between moral and prudential considerations. Explain what that means, using the case study to support your answer. Advise the management of Origin Energy how having an effective ethics program might allow them to make ethical decision-making. Show clear examples from the case study to illustrate where an effective ethics program would have helped management’s ethical decision-making.
Every employee has a right to work in a safe environment (The Greens, 2018). However, there are some situations do exist which limit such rights of an employee. Bullying is a situation where one or more people act adversely in against of another employee. It includes a situation where one or more employees make fun of other on the basis of sex, culture, race or any other basis or does some other similar kind of activities (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2018). Such issues impact the health of employees in both the manner such as physically and mentally.
In a direct manner, health and safety issues include the issues related to the physical health of an employee and demand that an employer must provide safe systems and safety measures to the employee. On the other side, the mental health of employees requires an employer to provide the employees a working environment free from workplace bullying issue. Workplace bullying is an unreasonable and repeated behavior of some people that creates a risk to health and safety and hence this can be concluded as that yes, workplace bullying represent a health and safety issues (Health Direct, 2018).
In the given case study, the company had a culture of bullying of their workers. It has been reported that whenever the employees were about to report a serious issue to the management, they were forced to be abused, yelled and physically intimated. All these issues come under the definition of workplace bullying. Many of the employees of the firm left the organization after facing such bullying. The bullying was actually affecting the health of employees too in an indirect manner. Yelling and abusing were impacting the mental health of the employees and on the other side due to the physical intimation; employees faced the physical health-related issues. By discussing the given case study, this is to conclude that workplace bullying often affects the health of employees and lead health and safety issues.
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As the name implies a conflict of interest is a situation where an organization or people do involves in multiple interests and fulfilling one interest can involve the issue of working in against of another. Such conflict only does exist in those circumstances where more than one interest do exist and fulfilment of all is not a possible task to do. The conflict of interest can also be understood as that this refers to a situation where the best interest of a person is not the best interest of another one (Ethics Unwrapped, 2018) In an organization, the employer takes all the decision that is in the best of his/her interest. This is not necessary that what employer think best, the employee also finds the same. This conflict leads an ethical issue. Conflict of interest and ethics are closely connected with each other (Field & Lo, 2009). When two people think differently, the only choice of one can be entertained and then the issue of unethical decision making comes into light. A person needs not to do anything unethical until unless there is no conflict of interest.
In the given case also, there was a conflict between the interest of employees and employers. The employees of the company wanted the same to behave ethically. The employees also reported the issue of gas leakage to the senior management and they wanted a safe environment. Whereas on the other side the employer was focusing on profit maximization and hence there was a conflict of interest. It was not possible for the employer to keep both such interests together and therefore the decision has been made to dismiss the employees and to pay fines and penalties instead complying with the law, which was an unethical decision (The Guardian (a), 2018). This would not be wrongful to state that conflict of interest often leads an issue of unethical decision making.
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AAA ethical decision is one of the significant ethical decisions making models. The same is also known as the seven-step decision-making system (Becker Professional Education, 2017). Whereas on the other side ethical theories are different branches of ethics. All the theories laid out different concept and provisions. By reviewing the AAA decision-making model, this can say that the model includes some ethical theories. As it is required to review all the facts of the case and then focuses on the decision at the very last stage, this is to understand that the model focuses on unitarism theory of ethics. This theory states that an ethical task is that, which focuses on the wellness of majority of people (Cohen, Schwartz, & Harris). AAA model also focuses on the same concept and prevent the decision in those cases where the focus only centers on one person. The teleological theory is another ethical theory which focuses on the result. The theory says that the result should be ethical rather than actions (Business Jargons, 2018). AAA model includes 7 steps to check that what the exact issues are and lastly informs that what should be done and hence this theory can be found in the AAA ethical decision-making model (Kaplan Financial Knowledge Bank, 2018).
In the reviewed case study, the AAA model of the decision was used at the end of McDow. She has reviewed the facts of the case and evaluated the ethical issues of the case. By following a proper procedure she dealt with the unethical practices of the company. The identification of values and principles has also been made. At last, she has taken the decision of whistleblowing by using AAA model. She thought about everyone and consider all the necessary victims and ethical issues. The unitarism and teleological theory can be seen in her act and this is to conclude that the decision taken by her was completely ethical and was focused on the end results rather than the activities.
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Whistleblowing is a situation where a person raises an issue against of an unethical practice. A person who does such act of whistleblowing is termed as a whistle-blower (Professional Pharmacists Australia, 2018). There is a proper manner prescribed under the law which a whistleblower needs to follow. A whistleblower raises his/her concern in against of unethical issues but he/she also needs to understand that while doing so he/she must act in an ethical manner. The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) provides the guidelines on the subject of whistleblowing (ASIC, 2018).
For a whistle, it is required to check that a whistleblowing should not defame any other person in a wrongful manner. Further, a whistleblower needs to ensure that the issues he/she is reporting are truly unethical because any wrong reporting can truly affect the reputation of a company. In order to ensure that a whistleblower is reporting in an ethical manner, he/she is advised to look after the procedure laid down under the law. A person should not call the media or any other outsider directly to report an issue and follow the hierarchy structure of an organization. Further, most of the companies do have their own policy on the subject of whistleblowing. One need to ensure to follow the provisions mentioned in the policy. The reporting should be ethical.
In the given case study, the former senior compliance manager of the company Sally McDow blew the whistle against the unethical practices that company was following since years. She has reported the issues to the senior manager. The manager has ignored the concern raised by her and therefore she moved to the federal court (Ferguson, 2017). She has many times reported the issue to the manager and failed to get the same resolved. This can be mention that Sally McDow has followed an ethical manner to report the issues as she firstly reported the same to internal management and then after moved to the court.
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Before discussing anything else, this is necessary to discuss that what how the conflict between moral and prudential consideration could be there the origin energy case. The senior management of the company was aware of every unethical practice following by the companies. In such a scenario it was his responsibility to look after the issues and to resolve the same. Being the senior manager of the company he was required to maximize the profits thereon, although being an individual he could have some different thinking. There is some difference between moral and prudential considerations. Prudential consideration focuses on financial and economic factors whereas moral consideration requires developing a focus on ethics.
A person who remains in a higher position in a company has to look after the financials of the company and the main focus of such person remains to develop the company. In the given case also, it was the responsibility of the senior manager to maximize the profits. The lead focus of the manager was to run the business of the company irrespective of the manner thereto. On the other side, he had a moral obligation to comply with the regulations of the law and to act in the best ethical manner. Therefore this can say that some conflicts between moral and prudential consideration might be there in case of origin energy limited.
Ethics program: - As the name implies, an ethical program is a document that provides all the possible aspects and provisions related to the ethical practices and environment of an organization. Ethics is a wider subject and includes many areas and hence the employer, as well as all the employees, need to know that what an organization thinks of ethics (Leviticus, 2018). Ethics program also describe the opinion of an organization about ethics and expectation thereof from the employees. Only development of an ethics program is not enough but the same also must be implemented. The implementation of an ethical program proves very helpful in addressing the issues related to ethical dilemmas (Ferrell, Fraedrich & Ferrell, 2009). There are many other benefits of having an ethics program. The program acts as a guide for the management of the company and also provides additional help to the employees. An organization can refer to their ethics program as and when required. The same promotes a company to meet out with the compliance of law (Ethical System, 2018). The program consists the policies of the company in the area of ethics.
An ethics program is too way beneficial for the employees of a company as it ensures the growth and development of them. Whenever an ethics program gets to develop in an organization, the same reduces the chances of non-compliance of the provisions of law and also reduces the levels of fines and penalties (McNamara, 2010).
An ethics program helps a lot in making ethical decisions as the same provides better ethical choices. Decision making is such a crucial thing and the same lead many of the issues if proves unethical. An ethical program works as a guide and timely reminds the management that what exactly expected of them. In the provided case study also, the management of the company could take the ethical decisions if they would have developed an ethics program. It is very common to understand that if management has no guide to work or they take decisions without looking after the other aspects, then such decisions are expected to be failed badly. If Origin case, would have implemented an ethical program, the management of the company could be able to understand that what decisions they should take and how badly the present decisions affecting the reputation of the company.
One of the former employees of the organization had to use whistleblowing to address the unethical issues of the company. The lead reason was the unethical decisions of the company. Origin Energy was a company who was not using an ethical mode to deal with the issues related to gas leakage, which are dangerous in nature. It was the responsibility of the management to look after the issue and to ensure that no such issues remain there. However, the company did not take any suitable actions. The decision which the company has taken was to do bullying with such employees (The Guardian (b), 2018). It was a complete unethical decision. Dismissal of an employee without the proper justification termed as unfair dismissal. By reviewing the provided case study, this can be stated that origin energy has taken many unethical decisions, some of them are as follow:-
1.Ignorance of the provisions of environment law
2.Not-considering the complaints made by the employees.
3.Unfair dismissal of employees.
All the decisions could be controlled by introducing an ethics program. What best decision the management of the company can take, is prescribed by the ethics program. Ethics program includes the core values, mission statement, and competitors of an organization.
In order to advise the management of the company, this is to state that by developing an ethics program company could deal with the issues in an efficient and ethics method. Further, the management could be able to understand that how dangerous the result can be of their decisions. In the proceedings of the federal court, one of the general managers of the company stated that company has calculated the cost and find it is cheaper to pay the fines in comparison to comply with the provisions of law. By the statement of the said manager, it is far clear that the company has only reviewed the economic factor and completely ignored the other aspects such as ethics. The ethics program could prevent such issues as if the same was there, the decisions of the management would be surely different and ethical.
The ethics program could help the management of the company at many of the events. Firstly, the whistleblowing is the issue reflected in the given case. If an ethical program was there, such an issue would not have been there. No person uses the mode of whistleblowing against a company if the company already follows good governance practices. Because in the absence of ethics program, the management of the company did not consider the unethical issues involved in the working of the same and therefore McDow has used the mode of whistleblowing to raise her concern. Therefore the ethics program could help the management to stop the reporting the issues under whistleblowing.
Non-compliance of law was also an unethical decision that management of the company made. In the presence of ethics program, there is very less chance of such non-compliance as the program informs the importance of timely compliance of the law.
Bullying of employees:- Bullying of employees are not allowed under the employment law. Further the same is also not ethical. In the given case, the company has decided to harass their employees which were a complete unethical decision. If an ethics plan would have there, the management might be able to understand that how they should be dealt with such issues.
Ethics program could be helpful for the management of the company to tell the same that how a dismissal should be done and what comes under the category of unfair dismissal. The program further could change the decision of the management of the company to dismiss the employees on unfair grounds.
This can be concluded that the ethics program could help a lot to the management of the company.
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Ferrell, O., C., Fraedrich, J., & Ferrell. (2009). Business Ethics 2009 Update: Ethical Decision Making and Cases. USA: Cengage Learning.
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Ferguson, A. (2017). Chilling tale of Origin Energy whistleblower. Retrieved From: https://www.smh.com.au/business/chilling-tale-of-origin-energy-whistleblower-20170124-gtxuhz.html
Professional Pharmacists Australia. (2018). A whistleblower is a person who has knowledge of serious misconduct inside an organisation and reports it to others. Retrieved from: https://www.professionalpharmacists.com.au/whistleblowing-courageous-and-ethical-or-occupational-suicide/