Luke, this is a piece of advice on ethics in corporate settings based on the case you consulted the ethics department on. From your case, I comprehend that you are involved in our companys proposed construction of an adult entertainment retail store in the neighborhood where your brother, Owen, lives. You illustrated that your brother had consulted you for advice on whether he should sell his house at a normal' price, considering the prevailing market conditions, or he should keep his house as he for a better price. It is clear that you are concerned that the announcement of the retail adult entertainment will lead to a substantial decline in real estate prices in the neighborhood.
Luke, I understand that you have an obligation to both the ABC Company and your brother. The company expects you to be confidential in all its activities until it makes a decision to publicly announce them. From your files, it is clear that you have signed a confidentiality agreement with the ABC Company in which you agreed to keep some aspects of the business activities confidential. However, you are also obligated to your brother through a family bond. I understand that you are supposed to watch out for your brother, and this means that it is expected of you to inform him of any major event that is likely to significantly alter his life. The construction of the adult retail entertainment store in his neighborhood belongs to this category of events. Providing the information on the construction to your brother will be a breach of the confidentiality between you and your company. Failure to inform your brother will be a betrayal of your family. I understand that this conflict of interests puts you in a dilemma on whether to side with your brother or your employer. I hope to use this memo to advise you and to recommend to you an appropriate course of actions based on the scenario. The recommendations will be based on four major ethical theories; utilitarianism, universal ethics, Golden Rule and virtue ethics.
According to the utilitarianism theory, the best action to be taken in a conflict of interest case should maximize its utility. The utility is described as the wellbeing of the concerned parties. This theory encourages us to compare the rights and the wrongs that arise due to the performance of a certain task. If the difference between the rights and the wrongs is not great, then the utilitarianism does not consider the case as a moral issue.
Luke, in your case, the action to be considered is informing your brother about the planned construction of an adult store in their neighborhood. First, we need to compare the merits and demerits of taking this course of action. Informing your brother about this proposed project and its anticipated consequences will enable him to sell his house early in advance at a fair price. Owen will receive a fair price for his house. This action will be good for the family relations, and it will improve your relationship with Owen as well as all your family. However, sharing this information with him can be treated as a breach of your employment terms and conditions, and it may lead to the termination of your employment. If the information shared with your brother is leaked, the ABC Company could suffer from the leak due to the pressure of the residents against the project. It seems vivid that the company needs to make the announcement strategically to prevent the people's opposition to the project. To make the right decision, you need to weigh these advantages and disadvantages properly. Although the sharing of the information with your brother is risky, it seems the better evil according to the utilitarianism theory.
The universal ethics theory is usually based on a concept referred to as moral absolutism. This means that if something is not right for an individual or a place, then the thing is not right for any person or any place. This method is usually preferred for cross-cultural problems, but it is useful in solving situations where one party operates outside the accepted cultural norms. This theory is preferred for its ease of making decisions due to its clear definition of what is right and wrong. The ethical choice, in this case, is predetermined by the national and international laws.
Using the universal ethics theory, you are supposed to do the legally right thing. In this scenario, sharing confidential information with your brother is illegal, and it can either land you in jail or leave you jobless. The theory recommends you to desist from sharing confidential information with your brother is it is wrong legally.
The Golden Rule theory is also referred to as the rule of reciprocity. It involves treating other people as one would wish to be treated. The rule is based on early religions, and it is applicable to almost all forms of decisions whether personal or professional. No matter how difficult a situation is, the Golden Rule theory always provides the ethical standpoint by the application of the "do unto others" standard. People are supposed to treat other people fairly and with empathy.
The Golden Rule theory required you to deal with your brother, Owen as you would wish to be treated. I would assume that you would wish to be informed of any key event that would substantially affect your life such as the anticipated decline in the price of your house. Although ABC Company expects you to remain confidential about its operations, it is clear your brother will be hugely affected by the project if he is not informed early. If your brother, Owen were in your position, you would expect him to inform you of the construction project so that you can quickly sell your house to the available client. Therefore, according to the Golden Rule Theory, you are expected to inform your brother of the impending construction of an adult entertainment retail store in their neighborhood to enable him to sell his house before the anticipated price drop.
The virtue ethics theory is based on a person rather than the action in question. It is based on a belief that virtuous person would do the right thing when they encounter a similar issue. Virtual ethics are not concerned with the wrongfulness or the rightness actions undertaken by individuals but ones whole life. It also provides behaviors and characteristics that define a good person. In virtual ethics, an action is only right if a virtuous person would take the course of action under the same circumstances. It describes a virtuous, person as a person who possesses and lives the virtues. A virtue is described as a moral character that a person requires to live well.
Luke, according to the virtue ethics theory, you need to ask yourself three vital questions before determining whether you'll side with the company or your brother. Who are you? What ought you to become? How ought you to get there? The answers to these questions will enable you to make an ethical decision. Understanding who you are and who you want to be will enable you to choose whether to side with your employer or your brother. If you want to be virtuous, you need to possess virtuous such as justice, fidelity, self-care, and prudence. It would be just to treat Owen fairly by informing him of the construction project. Fidelity encourages us to take special care of people close to us. This encourages you to speak to Owen. Self-care enables us to take good care of ourselves mentally physically and emotionally. Talking to your brother is a risk to your careers, but it will give you personal satisfaction due to the relief of taking good care of your family. It is my belief, therefore, that for you to be virtuous, you need to share the information with Owen.
Finally, it is vivid that these theories of ethics offer conflicting information on the most appropriate steps that you should take. Three theories out of four encourage you to breach your employer's confidentiality agreement to share the information. These theories include the virtue ethics theory, the Golden Rule theory, and the utilitarianism theory. The universal ethics encourages you to do the legally right thing: No sharing confidential information with third parties. After carefully weighing the above information, I would recommend that you share the information with Owen. This will enable him to sell his house in advance to avoid significant losses when the construction project goes public. However, it is important to ensure that he handles the information youve shared with him discreetly to ensure that it is not misused. Although this may put your career at risk, you will have the mental and emotional satisfaction of doing what you would expect someone in your position to do unto you. Thank you.
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