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Business Ethics 101-Case Studies

October 18, 2010

Filed under: Coaching,Management,observations — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 1:11 pm

Ethical business decisions come in all forms. Here are two that I came across. Your comments are welcome.

A client wanted to explain why she was l00king for a new job so she related this story from her most recent position. She was not my client at the time.

She’s an HR specialist with over 25 years of experience. She had decided to explore other options, as they say, and had applied for a number of positions in her field. She got an interview for a senior position at a firm about 300 miles away. Close enough to drive for an interview but certainly requiring relocation if she got an offer.

She went to the interview and a few weeks later got a call from her would-be manager with a job offer. They negotiated the usual, pay, moving expenses (none) etc. and she decided to uproot and take the job although there was a 6-month probationary period.

Five  months later she was laid off when the woman who was apparently out on maternity leave decided to return to her old job. Still on probation she was an at-will employee and had little recourse, but throughout the interview process no one ever mentioned the employee on maternity leave, and while she was working, she was never led to believe she was not doing a good job.

In hindsight she notes that she should have realized that getting an offer just two weeks after the interview was too good to be true – especially in HR. But apparently the firm was so desperate o fill the job they didn’t feel any ethical need to say that the job might be temporary. Probably because no one would have taken the gig.

I find the company’s action reprehensible, even if there had been no relocation involved.

OK, second example. Met a man who is responsible for finding new locations for a major retailer. As part of the job he negotiates ‘tax incentives’ that states offer to lure businesses. His firm is a multi-billion dollar firm which is often a destination site and also offers on-line purchasing.

As a requirement to get a new location he asks states to forgo the sales tax on internet purchases. For those of you unfamiliar with the law, in most cases you don’t have to collect tax if their is no retail site in the state. But once a brick-and-mortar store is built, you are supposed to pay the local  sales tax if there is any.

He admits that he is asking the states to ‘look the other way,’ and allow his firm to have their cake and eat it. As he noted, “There will never be one of these stores in California, because they won’t agree. It’s their loss there are plenty of other states who think the agreement is fine.”

My response, “Go back to any of those states who signed agreements  to forgive the tax requirement a few years ago and see if they wish they wish had said no.” I think they may be regretting their decision.

Again, is it unethical to make the request, or is the ethics question just an issue for the state?

I know, the state is lured by the promise of jobs and a retail center that may attract others, but with internet sales increasing faster than in-store purchases says you have wonder if it’s a deal with the devil.

Your comments are welcome.

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