Ethical concepts and dilemmas facing Valerie


Discuss the ethical concepts and dilemmas that are facing Valerie?

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Valarie has discovered evidence that her boss, Waters, is accepting kickbacks, from the two fragrance companies he has chosen for Wisson to work with. She suspects that the company has discontinued working with six other companies because they had not made payoffs to Waters. She knows that kickbacks are in clear violation of Wisson’s policies. She faces dilemmas in both reporting and not reporting her discovery. If she discloses Waters’ activities, she fears retaliation which could result in her being fired. and, she knows her decision will influence the lives of coworkers who she considers to be her friends. On the other hand, if she doesn’t report the unethical conduct, she has to cope with the ongoing frustration and stress of the situation. The following statements illustrate just how much this situation was upsetting her, “How could she even work with Waters any longer under these circumstances? She felt her anger toward him growing stronger.” Valerie had problems acting as though nothing had happened. She also had to deal with the fact that the situation conflicted with her own personal values. Worse yet, she knew that some day she would eventually have to face the day of the dreaded decision, perhaps waiting for a better time in her career.

If you were Valerie, what would you do? Why?

If I were Valerie, I would immediately report the activities of Waters for many reasons. First, she knows that his unethical activities are negatively impacting the firm’s competitive advantage because it is receiving less than one third of its normal fragrance submissions. Her belief that Waters is necessary for the survival of her team appears to be flawed. In fact, under the poor leadership and fraud of Waters, her department has already been cut from 25 people to just 10. “It finally deteriorated to the point that even the most positive colleagues realized that Waters contributed nothing to either the work level or to morale, both of which were already low.” Second, the actions of Waters violate her own ethical principles. She mistakenly believes that she can wait for a “better time,” but already she is under a great deal of stress and the likelihood of coping with the situation for a long period of time is probably smaller than she currently realizes. Wisson management is unlikely to view any delay in reporting the violation of clearly written policies favorably and she would be forced to explain why she had waited. Therefore, while Valerie believes that she is salvaging her career, she may actually be doing long-term damage to her reputation and her ability to remain with or advance in the company. At the least, management may question her true motivations and credibility.

Discuss the types of stressors are being experienced by Valerie.

Valerie is experiencing many personal stressors that have made her decision of whether to report Waters very difficult. By far the largest one is her green card situation where the only factor for her continued employment is the “fairness” of the company she is working for. If she was to lose her job at Wisson, she would have only 30 days to find a job, a feat that would be difficult for anyone, but even more challenging for Valerie because many companies do not want to deal with the paperwork or incur the expenses of hiring green card employees. Further, Valerie doesn’t have any experience in the beauty industry other than Wisson, so the loss of a reference for this experience would be devastating. A loss of a job at Wisson would also mean that she would lose her tuition reimbursement for a master’s of science program she has just been accepted to at the prestigious University of Chicago. Without this assistance, she might be unable to pay the very expensive tuition bills and would lose the ability to earn a degree that would greatly benefit her career.

Discuss Valerie’s manager, Waters, in relationship to his ethics in handling business and employees.

There are many ways that Water’s ethics negatively impacted the business and employees. There is a common theme among experts who have researched leadership; integrity is the most important of all the qualities a leader must possess and leaders must act with integrity at all times (Cunningham, 2002). Instead of having integrity, “Waters preferred to look for only one goal — to enrich himself. Therefore, he was willing to accept kickbacks at the expense of his department’s performance and to engage in promotional activities to showcase his own horseback riding talent rather than the company. Waters also had a poor work ethic, taking 20 weeks off per year for vacation, missing or being late for meetings, and avoiding the office. As such his team quickly learned that they needed to make most decisions without him. “Effective communication occurs only if leaders understand and respect the exact information or idea that their employees transmit (Communication and leadership) and only if the leader is able to be understood and respected by others.” However, “It did not take long for the team members to realize that Waters was not to be questioned.” He hired his close friends as executives which no doubt made the employees feel like there was an inner circle that they were not a part of.

Discuss the aspects of the corporate culture that contributed to the dilemma.

The policy at Wisson was clear, “Personal payments, bribes or kickbacks to customers or suppliers or the receipt of kickbacks, bribes or personal payments by employees are absolutely prohibited.” However, written procedures don’t necessarily get followed if they are not built into the corporate culture. Wisson’s failure stemmed from its selection of leaders such as Waters who reflected their lack of principles onto the organizational culture. Further, these types of managers and their behavior appear to be rewarded and condoned by the company. For instance, Waters brought in friends as executives and the company gave them pay and vacation time above industry standards. Water’s manager no doubt approved the $25,000 horseback riding boondoggle. No wonder Waters felt like he could get away with anything and employees such as Valerie were afraid to speak up.


Communication and leadership.

Cunningham, T.M. (2002, August 27). Leadership 101: Integrity.

Dench, S. (2006). How personal can ethics get? Journal of Management Development (10): 1013-1017.

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