Doing Well And Doing good
As a final step as we move towards our conclusion, we need to consider how the process of workplace decision-making about diversity might maintain a practical focus and at the same time, be encouraged to incorporate an ethical one. One key point we can draw from our earlier discussion is that if there is an ethical consideration present in a diversity-related decision, it is usually tacit, unarticulated, in the decision-maker’s private thoughts. Laura Nash calls for discussion-based ethical analysis to become part of any organizational decision (Nash, 1981) and she offers a process to encourage discussion around these usually tacit elements. This review would be especially revealing of hidden assumptions in diversity-related decisions. The twelve questions to open such a discussion are: 1. Have you defined the problem accurately? A moral decision cannot be built on blind or convenient ignorance. Convenient ignorance is frequently a part of diversity-related issues. 2. How would you define the problem if you were to stand on the other side of the fence? There is a power in self-examination that may lead both to an awareness of the role of self-interest in a decision and to a tendency to dampen the expedient over the responsible action. 3. How did this situation occur in the first place? This course of questioning helps to distinguish the symptoms from the disease and helps to work against the tendency to ignore problems until they become crises. 4. To whom and what do you give your loyalties as a person and as a member of the corporation? The area of divided loyalties is a difficult one in the diversity area. The first steps to addressing such issues are to articulate them and then examine them. A. What is your intention in making this decision? B. How does this intention compare with the likely results? Intentions do matter. They can have effects on attitudes inside and outside the organization. Thus, their communication is important. C. Whom could your decision or action injure? This question helps to discover whether any resulting injury would be intentional. D. Can you engage the affected parties in a discussion of the problem before you make your decision? Participation of all or many stakeholders insures that affected parties can discuss what among the action alternatives may be in their best interests. At the same time, they learn of possible decisions that may cause them difficulties, and have the opportunity to see these issues in a larger context. E. Are you confident that your position will be as valid over a long period of time as it seems now? Articulation of values should anticipate good and bad times. A difference in time frame can make a huge impact on the problem’s meaning. F. Could you disclose without a qualm your decision or action to your boss, your CEO, the board of directors, your family, or society as a whole? This test, referred to by some as the billboard test, helps to uncover conscience and loyalties. G. What is the symbolic intention of your action if understood? If misunderstood? How the symbol is perceived or misperceived is what matters. Getting intent out there early (see A and B) helps to frame how the symbolic aspect of an action is understood. H. Under what conditions would you allow exceptions to your stand? It is important to discuss under what conditions the rules of the game may be changed. Now we can begin to do the right thing as we implement diversity in the workplace, to make good and pragmatic business decisions.
1. Describe an approach to a business diversity program that would be pragmatic and ethical.
2. What are some possible explanations for the hesitancy to discuss ethics in the workplace?
3. This discussion’s definition of diversity rests on a valuing of differences across many groups of people. Explain why valuing (the process) is what should serve as the foundation for diversity and not the results.
4. Which of the final 12 discussion areas would be most difficult for you as a manager to discuss in the organization with your colleagues? Why?
After answering the questions develop a business plan for the company that will formulate evidenced-based sound business solutions founded on stakeholder needs and interests.