Unit 01: Promoting Fairness in Hiring Practices

“The said truth is that it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong”  ― Jeremy Bentham

A leader in our organization was part of a hiring committee.  He participated in the interview process and his input was vital to the selection of the new candidate.  The concern he was faced with was the fact that one of the candidates was a good family friend.  He knew this individual well and also was aware that he was not as qualified as other candidates in the applicant pool.  Should he place the candidate in this position over other well qualified candidates given that he was a close friend?  What are the potential impacts if he opts for this decision?  Other candidates should be given an opportunity to promote themselves for this position.   

Making ethical decisions requires sensitivity to the ethical implications of problems and situations.  It also requires practice. Having a framework for ethical decision making is essential (Bonde, et al., 2011).  Two categories of ethical thought will be explored to help describe the leader’s behavior.  Concepts involving normative and meta-ethics will be examined in this case.  Normative ethics will be analyzed initially.  Ethical theories that deal with the conduct of leaders are in turn divided into two kinds: theories that stress the consequences of leaders’ actions and those that emphasize the duty or rules governing leaders’ actions (Northouse, 2015, p. 333).    Furthermore, meta-ethics, which refers to how we balance rights of and individual with the rights of the masses will also be reviewed.  The ability for the leader to leverage the considerations of normative and meta-ethics allows the leader to apply ethical standards in decision making and incorporate consequential and non-consequential approaches to provide a solution that benefits the greater good.

To begin with, the idea of normative ethics will be synthesized to help explain how the leader potentially derived the decision.  The leader in this case elected to promote fairness in the decision making process.  Normative ethics in general suggests that there is a right way of behaving based on what behavior is best for the majority (PSY 533, 2018).  Within the framework is the concept of deontological ethics.  Duty or obligation as the foundation for moral decision-making is the basis for deontological ethics (King, 2017).  The leader felt compelled to create an atmosphere in which fairness to all was prevalent.  Furthermore, the duty to do what is right for others is evident as in the case of right theories which is displayed in this scenario.  This approach stipulates that the best ethical action is that which protects the ethical rights of those who are affected by the action. It emphasizes the belief that all humans have a right to dignity (Bonde, et al., 2011).  The leader can also leverage the considerations of consequential theories, in particular the utilitarian approach.  The leader is faced with benefiting one or benefiting others at the cost of not considering his under qualified friend.  The leader elected to make his choice for the benefit of the overall cohort.  One technique to approach an ethical dilemma is to assess it in light of the theory of utilitarianism. This theory posits that the “right” thing is the one that provides the most good, or “utility.” (McDunnigan, n.d.).

Upon further analysis an additional concept that helps to explain this dilemma is  meta-ethics which indicates that one needs to have standards of what is right or wrong before one can act in a manner that either aligns with or violates those standards (PSY 533, 2018).  The impartial decision by the leader results in a fair assessment of all candidates.  The leader is seeking a means to do what is right for the entire group.  Ethical universalism, refers to the idea that concern for society or groups at large is paramount for determining what is right or wrong. This leads to common sayings such as “Sacrifice one for the good of all” (PSY 533, 2018).  The leader’s own ethical standards contributed to his decision to promote fairness and remain impartial in the selection process.

In this case normative and meta-ethics help illustrate the behaviors of the leader.  As previously noted, both consequential and non consequential theories also help to explain the decisions afforded by the leader.  Leaders have the ethical responsibility to treat followers with dignity and respect — as human beings with unique identities (Northouse, 2015, p. 336).  He chose an approach that provided fairness to all.  Because leadership has a moral dimension, being a leader demands awareness on our part of the way our ethics defines our leadership (Northouse, 2015, p. 349).

References

Bonde, S., Firenze, P., Green, J., Grinberg, M., Korijin, J., Levoy, E., Naik, A., Ucik, L., & Weisberg, L. (2013, May). A framework for making ethical decisions. Retrieved from

http://www.brown.edu/academics/science-and-technology-studies/framework-making-ethical-decisions

King, G. (2017) Doing the Right Thing: Deontological Ethics – Part 2. Retrieved from

http://www.ethicsdaily.com/doing-the-right-thing-deontological-ethics—part-2-cms-24293

McDunnigan, M. (n.d.). Techniques Used to Solve Ethical Dilemmas | Synonym. (n.d.). Retrieved from

http://classroom.synonym.com/techniques-used-solve-ethical-dilemmas-8205920.html

Northouse, P. G. (2015). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed., pp. 333, 336, 349). Los Angeles: SAGE Publications

PSY 533 (2018). Meta-Ethics. Retrieved from

https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1896721/pages/l03-meta-ethics?module_item_id=23791910

PSY 533 (2018). Normative Ethics. Retrieved from

https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1896721/pages/l03-normative-ethics?module_item_id=23791909

 

2 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Louise Hoover February 9, 2018 at 4:52 PM #

    Mario,

    Many years ago at a financial institution I worked for we had our head of Human Resources (HR) insist that her daughter be hired for a position of which she did not qualify. She was adamant that her daughter’s past work history was not reflective of her capabilities and strongly encouraged us to give her this opportunity to prove that her unstable work history was only reflective of poor choice in companies for employment. Myself and a few other members of the leadership team were uncomfortable with this scenario especially since, if for any reason disciplinary action would have to be administered HR was responsible for approving all corrective action. After much deliberation and considering her excellent work history, fairness in decision making across the board and her outstanding track record for making ethical decisions we agreed to hire her daughter. Less than two months after being hired her daughter took at $1000 loss in her cash drawer. After weeks of extensive research, this money was never recovered. Reviewing the videotapes suggested unusual activity by her daughter with regard to her drawer but nothing that could be deemed a smoking gun. Over the years we have had to let countless people go for the same infraction. Conversely, in this instance, HR refused to allow her daughter to be fired or even placed on a final written warning. We finally had to involve the President of the bank when her daughter had consistent occurrences of calling in sick and continued drawer outages. In lieu of being terminated she was permitted to resign.

    Prior to this incident, my fellow colleagues and myself had the utmost respect for our head of HR. We considered her a phenomenal resource and someone who was fair and balanced at all times. Afterwards, our opinion was marred as she chose to allow her personal relationship with this employee skew her decision-making and she ultimately created a condition of preferential treatment. Valentine, Hollinworth and Eidsness (2014) discuss the effects ethical hiring can have on employees. “Employees perceive ‘ethical conflict’ on the job when their ethical values are not matched and/or exceeded by their employer’s ethical orientation” (Valentine, Hollinworth and Eidsness, 2014, p. 693). In your example, the leader who was faced with the ethical hiring dilemma chose to support a culture of fairness, his decision was based on what was best for the organization and reflected company values. This would promote much more favorable feelings around his principles as opposed to the HR manager in my scenario who left us feeling a great deal of ethical conflict about her.

    In the case of ethical hiring practices, the hiring body has a duty to not allow emotions and personal affiliations override doing what is right or in the best interest of the organization. Bonde et al. (2013) acknowledge that this methodology may seem dispassionate nevertheless; it works to support objectivity. “Whether a given action is ethical rests not only with its consequences, but also with whether the action is good itself” (Northouse, 2015 p. 335). If one recognizes their duty first and then chooses to disconnect from their personal feelings or potential biases it may produce an outcome that benefits the majority as opposed to the minority, which would also support a utilitarian framework (Bonde et al., 2013).

    References:

    Bonde, S., Firenze, P., Green, J., Grinberg, M., Korijin, J., Levoy, E., Naik, A., Ucik, L., & Weisberg, L. (2013, May). A framework for making ethical decisions (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Retrieved from http://www.brown.edu/academics/science-and-technology-studies/framework-making-ethical-decisions.

    Valentine, S., Hollingworth, D., & Eidsness, B. (2014). Ethics-related selection and reduced ethical conflict as drivers of positive work attitudes. Personnel Review, 43(5), 692-716. 10.1108/PR-12-2012-0207

    Northouse, P. G. (2015). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

  2. David Sean Walker February 9, 2018 at 8:23 AM #

    U01 Blog Response

    Mario,

    You bring up a great challenge in the workplace regarding ethics in hiring practices, hiring friends and family. I had the educational experience of inheriting a small regional support department of two individuals a couple of years ago. The department leader (let’s call him Bob) had hired a colleague from a previous employer who was also a close friend (Fred.) Apparently, Fred performed well in his role at the previous company, but he was not performing well at our organization. Within a few a few months, it was apparent this relationship was not going to work, and Bob was apologizing for Fred’s performance. We had to help Fred exit the business, which ended up better for him, and Bob took a job elsewhere as well. I am not sure how well Bob and Fred’s relationship survived the process, but as noted in a Fortune article by Peter Lesaffre, tension was evident throughout the working time (2016).
    According to the organizational culture model developed by Cameron and Quinn, our organization has a “Clan” culture, meaning it’s a tight-knit family type environment (2006). We support the mining industry through our blasting services, so many of our sites are in remote locations and some groups have family members and close friends working together (and for each other.) Historically the industry was fragmented, mostly consisting of “mom-and-pop” organizations which traditionally hired friends and family members. Through years of acquisitions, the industry came together under 3-4 larger organizations.
    With the clan culture comes the desire to hire who we know versus hiring for talent. This effort may follow the ethical egoism approach where the hiring manager is looking out for their own interests (personal relationship) over the holistic company view (Bonde, et al., 2011). They may have a friend in need of a job, but if the friend’s need does not fit the organization, the hiring manager is doing a disservice to the organization.
    To combat this ethical conundrum, many mid to large-sized organizations have rigorous hiring practices in addition to nepotism policies to mitigate personal influence. Of course, a credible employee may “put in a good word” for their friend or family member interviewing for the role, but the hiring process should get into the details of competency and cultural fit for the good of the organization. I see these practices lining up with deontological ethics where the company has a “duty” to hire the right person for the role. These rigorous processes also give the friend or family employee an opportunity to “turn it over to the process” and keep the relationship intact.

    Works Cited
    Bonde, S., Firenze, P., Green, J., Grinberg, M., Korijn, J., Levoy, E., . . . Weisberg, L. (2011). Making Choices: A Framework for Making Ethical Decisions. Making Choices: Ethical Decisions at the Frontier of Global Science. Santa Clara.
    Cameron, K. S., & Quinn, R. E. (2006). Diagnosing and Chagning Organizational Culture. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass.
    Lesaffre, P. (2016, 29 June). Why You Should Never Hire Your Friends. Retrieved from Fortune: http://fortune.com/2016/06/29/startup-entrepreneur-hire-friends/

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