RUNNING HEADER: ETHICAL DILEMMA Home Depot Ethical Dilemma Problem Statement In 2008, the CEO, Frank Blake was implicated for failing to report employee abuse. The allegation indicated tends from forgery, falsifying documents, harassment, and retaliations. Blake was aware of, and in numerous instances, participated in the alleged abuse, cover-ups and retaliatory actions, which involve the stockholders to demand the termination of Blake. His violation of ethics breaches were numerous, deliberate, and so egregious that a person would deem nothing less than immediate termination of all those involve (Blatchford, 2008).
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A little over a year, Home Depot was sending known sex offenders to be homes to provide a service. They were mishandling hazardous waste, and the declining overall customer service rating did not help the company. The hiring practices were alleged to be unethical, retaliatory, and discriminatory treatment to employees (2008). Managers lied to prospective employees, increased their potential earning and advancement opportunities and then covered up such misdeeds with intimidation and threats of being terminated if the information was revealed.
Home Depot has a business code of ethics in place for protection of all staff members affiliated with the corporation. Since the code is in effect all employees/associates, managers, and officers must abide by the code or face severe disciplinary actions, which can lead up to termination. Other executives as well as Francis Blake violated the rights of the employees by not following proper protocol and file the necessary paperwork for the allegations that were reported.
With Blake and those under his direction, having full knowledge, blatantly committed numerous acts which repeatedly breached the Home Depot well documented and widely promoted business code of conduct and ethics. (2008). Company Profile Home Depot was founded by two people, Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank, in 1978, along with investment banker Ken Langone and Guru Pat Farrah. Their vision was to create a one stop shopping center for the people who take on a task of completing home projects themselves, this came into fruition in 1979.
From the very beginning, Home Depot excelled customer service, providing customers with knowledgeable help with laying tile, changing a fill valve, and handling a power tool. According to the founders, Bernie and Arthur who believed the customer has a bill of rights, this will entitle the customers to the right assortment, quantities and price, along with a trained associate on the sales floor to take of the need of the customer. In addition to this philosophy, the owners also believed that customer service meant ‘whatever it takes’ to make the customer happy.
This emphasizes cultivating a relationship with the customer rather than just trying to complete a transaction. (2008) The value of Home Depot today still remains in effect and guided by the same philosophy of Bernie and Arthur from 1978. Those values are: excellent customer service, taking care of people, entrepreneurial spirit, respect for all people, building strong relationships, doing the right thing, giving back to communities, and creating shareholder value. The founders viewed the structure of the company as an inverted pyramid, with stores and customers at the top and senior management on the bottom.
Arthur demanded that associates take risks to succeed, saying, “It is your business, your division, your market, your store, your aisle and your customer. ” Business Concern The case filed will implicate numerous members of management, as well as the CEO, Francis Blake. By not filing and reporting the accusations of the employee make the company as a whole look as if they are not willing to practice moral and ethical values, even though it is stated in the business code of conduct and ethics. Each manager that is hierarchy related to the case stands a chance of being terminated from the position.
The worker who was fired has been impacted the most, because employment has been terminated. Since the lawsuit was filed and in most cases until a decision is made, the management team will still have income in. I do not understand why employers who have been employed with a company for a long period of time would risk termination for not following protocol and procedures. It seems worthless to try to cover up errors that could be corrected. Once the management team has been infiltrated, the domino effect is passed down to the customers, unintentionally.
The team will suffer some frustration until the company is able to replace the people eliminated from the team. The workload will get a little longer and heavier, which will cause stress on the remainder of the employees. Normally when there is tension within an organization, the retaliation is placed upon other employees and the customers. It seems time like these causes the staff to become over-worked and stressed. The fatigue and attitudes are indirectly placed upon the customers. So not only will the management team suffer, the customers will feel the weight of the fallen organization.
Whistle-blowing is a voluntary release of nonpublic information, as a moral protest, by a member or former member of an organization outside the normal channels of communication to an appropriate audience about illegal and immoral conduct in an organization that is opposed in some significant way to the public interest (Boatright, 2009). In this case is there an ethical justification of whistle-blowing? The employee conducted an internal whistle-blowing that was overlooked and altered, apparently to cover up the harassment, threats, and retaliation.
Employee conducting an external whistle-blowing is the next step once the internal is overlooked. Even though whistle-blowing can be justified in some cases, it still remains that the courageous employee who performed the valuable public service are often subjected to retaliation (Boatright, 2009). There should be a law of protection, because in some case the employee could really use that protection. In cases like these, the employee can truly be going through some harsh and cruel punishment; and decide to keep quiet because of the retaliation.
An employee or former employee should have the right to speak to against the injustice they suffered from working in a hostile environment. One would think if the allegations assessed are not true there should be no retaliation. The accusation should be heard and proven to be true or untrue. If allegations of harassment, threats, and abuse are proven, not only does this affect the management team, it will affect the entire business organization overall. The employment rate can suffer, because new hires will be skeptical of working in an environment that is proven to be unfair and unjust.
No employee should have to experience immoral ethics to maintain stable employment. All employees should be treated equal. I feel management should treat the employee with respect and equality, because they have to understand that they were on the lower end at one point in time. My philosophy is the ones you see on the way going up, will probably are the ones you see going down, so equality is the key to ethical morality. Proposed Solution There are a couple of ethical theories that can be applied to compare the ethical dilemma that took place at Home Depot.
The Kantian theory sets out to restore reason to what is regarded as a rightful place in our moral life (Boatright, 2009). In this case, the former employee knows that there may not be a guarantee that he gets his job back even after exposing the unjust behavior working under the management and the CEO, Francis Blake. The employee that did the whistle-blowing was promised certain things for being an employee, once the employment began nothing that was discussed was applied or received. In the Kantian theory the employer had to make the offer look good to attract the employee to work for Home Depot, the tactics were immoral.
Making an offer to an employee that the employer knows he cannot keep might would have cause the potential employee to decline the offer and seek employment elsewhere. No rule that would make such an action morally right could possibly be justified (Boatright, 2009). Using false presumptions are wrong; Kant denied that any consequence, such as pleasure could be good. In deontological theory, duty rather than good is the fundamental moral category, as the result the only thing that can be good without qualification is what is called good will, performing an action solely because it is our duty (Boatright, 2009).
Another theory that can be applied to this case study is virtue ethics, what kind of person should the management be and what kind of person should be hired. The management team is hired to help make the business run successfully. In virtue theory employees obtain a job to live a rewarding life, the kind of life we call the good life. Virtue ethics is proven to be difficult to determine, most ethics are instilled from an upbringing. Honesty is not simply a matter of telling the truth it has to be something that is habitually done.
The management team lacked this ethic; however the employee was looking forward to what was promised to them at the time of the offered employment. In defining virtue ethics, the person authenticating this theory must have some form of compassion. There must be some level of distress for the other person. The managers did not define virtue ethics morally, because they gave the perspective employees false hope of what was reality of the employment offer.
Virtue ethics can be applied to business, and a manager should be caring, for example concern about the welfare of the employee, which can only go so far when the inevitable can happen, far as a layoff or termination. Honesty is a virtue business ethic as well, but in this case the managers bluff the prospective employee to gain another person on the staff to help the business run smoothly. Honesty in business is not necessarily the same as honesty in other sphere of life; however the ethics of negotiation permits some concealment that would be unacceptable between manager and employee, versus family and friends.
Resolution and Justification The recommendation should be to make sure when employment is offered, it is based on what is promised at the time the job is started. Cannot offer a benefit package to entice the prospective employee to come work for the company, and once they start the offers are altered and then covered up where the employee cannot receive. When there is employment offered, and the employee comes to the manager with problems or concerns, the managers should take the procedures and protocols seriously to make sure the business is run smoothly.
The objection of virtue ethics is not totally lost in the business setting; the character traits will lead to the success in business to elevate the tone of the business and the leaders and ordinary workers with exemplary characteristics (Boatright, 2009). Another resolution for the ethical dilemma for this business to portray ethical and moral behavior, practice the true meaning of virtue ethics. This means to be truthful and not mislead the prospective employee to gain their interest, then when the employee is expecting what is offered, it is covered up.
The threats and harassment should and could be avoided along with retaliation if the offer stays truthfully open. Nothing should be offered if it cannot be obliged. The managers and CEO, has to do what is best for the company, hiring people under false pretenses only make the turnover rate higher for the company. When lawsuits are filed it makes the company looks less credible. A manager and the management team have a moral obligation to keep the value of the business in mind. Whatever is required to keep the business to run smoothly should be done, within ethical and moral virtues.
Recommendations of a successful business are to practice virtue ethics at all time. Truth should always be an obligation, if you have to alter, change, lie, or cheat to gain an employee; then maybe the business tactics and efforts should be modified. When putting more stress on your workers, makes the customers catch the short end of the attitudes displayed over, over-worked employees. If the managers failed to follow procedures and protocols to cover up their wrong doing, then they should be asked to resign. The managers and CEO should know that they were hired to keep the business running smoothly.
The environment should be stress free, the environment should be relaxing. This type of environment keeps the employees happy and feel like they are part of a family-based business, and this attitude is portrayed to the customers. Good customer service is provided at the highest level, which is what the founders of Home Depot vision were when they started this company. The business code of ethics is the bible for most successful businesses. This is how business remains successful in this corporate world. There is no justification for the management team to overlook the wrongdoings of any aspects of the business.
The management team have a moral obligation to file the paper work to inform the employees that they are treat equal, no matter their race, color, or creed. Once an employee feels like they are part of a business family, they will go to the bitter end, to keep customer satisfaction high and referral visits. Reference: Boatright, John, R. (2009) Ethics and the Conduct of Business 6th ed. Home Depot (2008). Retrieved on October 12, 2011 from http:// www. homedepot. com Home Depot (2008). Retrieved on October 12, 2011 from http://www. homedepot. com/forum
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