Required to analyse the ethical dilemma you have identified above using use the Doing Ethics Technique (DET).
Ethical Dilemma can be defined as a situation wherein individuals are expected to choose among options which appear to be morally correct but conflict with each other (Fisher & Lovell, 2006). Doing ethics technique has defined eight parameters against which an ethical dilemma is judged (Australian Computer Society Code of Ethics, 2015). The eight questions when answered in a specified sequence help individuals find the most suited solution to an ethical dilemma.
While working as a senior requirement analyst for a reputed software development company that develop and sell Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) to its clients the author found himself in the midst of an ethical dilemma. During one of his client meetings he was informed by his clients that they want a system which while displaying suitable candidates whose credentials matched to that required by a specific job, details of white candidates must be displayed prior to that of non-white candidates and also the details of male candidates must be displayed prior to female candidates. The author found himself in a state where he could not decide whether their company should go ahead with developing such a system or simply say no to the client stating relevant reasons.
Doing Ethics Technique
- What is going on?
The author is in a client meeting where he is asked by the client to develop a system that violated employment discrimination laws and Equal Employment Opportunity Laws. The client is asking the author to be a part of highly unethical act. They are trying to misuse the IT system to perform an act of self interest.
- What are the facts?
Author’s company is involved in the development and sale of HRIS system to their clients. HRIS system helps organisations streamline their HR process in order to facilitate HR planning. The author is in midst of ethical dilemma where he cannot accept clients requirements nor can say no to them directly.
- What are the issues?
The client wants to misuse the IT system in order to perform a highly unethical act wherein they will discriminate applicants based on their race and sex (Rezaee, 2009). There are a number of government laws that prevent organisations from making any discrimination among employees based on race, sex, age, nationality or disability. Any organisation that fails to adhere to such laws will have to face serious consequences (Whitbeck, 2011). The client is clearly aware of such laws still want the software development company to get involved in this unethical act.
- Who is affected?
This unethical act will not only affect author and his company but will also affect the white and female applicants who are actually capable of being selected for a specific job with the client (Sandler, 2013). This act will be greatly against public interest.
- What are the ethical issues and implications?
The client is trying to misuse the efficiencies and flexibilities provided by an IT system by manipulate data in a way that satisfy their self interest (Sandler, 2013). Doing so will be against public interest and will violate individual rights to equal employment opportunities. Such a system will enable the client discriminate among applicants based on their race and sex.
- What can be done about it?
In order to stop such practices from happening in future the author can straight forward inform his client that he and his company will never be interested to be a part of such unethical act (Waluchow, 2003).
- What options are available?
The system if developed as desired by the client will violate Employment Discrimination laws which emphasize on preventing discrimination based on race, religion, sex, age and disability (Halbert & Ingulli, 2014). The author has three options available.
- He can accept the requirements and forward them to development team without taking them too seriously.
- He can directly say no to the client informing them his company will not be interested in doing anything that’s unethical.
- He can inform the client of his concern with all regards and inform them that based on whatever the senior management will decide after they are informed about the specific requirement, he will proceed accordingly.
- Which is the most suited option and why?
Option third appears to be the most suited option because the author’s designation does not provide him with enough powers to decide either in favour or against the situation. It will be best to inform the senior management about the situation and let them make the decision. The author can just take a decision whether or not to be a part of this project if the senior management decide in favour of the client.
Australian Computer Society Code of Ethics. (2015). Australian Computer Society Code of Ethics. Retrieved 2015, from Australian Computer Society Code of Ethics: https://undergraduate.csse.uwa.edu.au/units/CITS3200/ethics/acs-ethics.htm
Fisher, C., & Lovell, A. (2006). Business Ethics and Values. Essex: Pearson Eductaion Limited.
Halbert, T., & Ingulli, E. (2014). Law and Ethics in the Business Environment. New York: Cengage Learning.
Rezaee, Z. (2009). Corporate Governance and Ethics. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Sandler, R. L. (2013). Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
Waluchow, W. J. (2003). The Dimensions of Ethics: An Introduction to Ethical Theory. London: Broadview Press.
Whitbeck, C. (2011). Ethics in Engineering Practice and Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.