Business Communication Ethics Includes material from Guffey text Ch 1
Examples of Dishonest Business Communication • Abflex • claim that 3 minutes per day on the machine will produce a “washboard stomach” • Publisher’s Clearing House • use of large/small font sizes and tricky wording to encourage recipients to believe they had won a prize and/or buying magazines increased chance of prize. • Beach Nut • Sold baby apple juice with picture of apple on label, but no apples actually used in the vitamin-enhanced sugar water
Discussion: Communication Matters • “The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth…” • Why do people lie? • What did you find helpful about this article?
Ethical Issue Exists When: • Violation of a behavioral norm • Intent/motive • Causing harm • Physical, financial, psychological • Individual, group, society • Higher standard for defenseless
Five Common Ethical Traps (from Guffey) • The false-necessity trap (convincing yourself that no other choice exists) • The doctrine-of-relative-filth trap (comparing your unethical behavior with someone else’s even more unethical behavior) • The rationalization trap (justifying unethical actions with excuses) • The self-deception trap (euphemistic labeling, minimizing perception of harm) • The ends-justify-the-means trap (using unethical methods to accomplish a desirable goal)
Additional Ethical Traps(from Bandura, 1990) • Displacement of responsibility or attribution of blame • just following orders, “he made me” • Diffusion of responsibility • if everyone is responsible, no one is • Dehumanization • objectification, stereotyping (Arabs = terrorists)
Organizational Ethical Trap: Darley’s Law Performance measurement systems can incentivise unethical behavior • Cheating/lying – to protect or advance self • Cheating/lying – to protect or advance organization (“cooking the books”) • Sub-optimization - Optimize metrics to detriment of overall organization
Goals of Ethical Communication • Telling the truth • Half truths • Exaggerations • Deceptions • Video: Real Estate example
Goals of Ethical Communication • Labeling Opinions • differentiating between facts (quantifiable and/or verifiable) and opinions (beliefs that are not verified) • stating opinions as if they were facts is unethical
Goals of Ethical Communication • Being Objective • recognize your own biases and keep them from distorting your message • honest reporting means presenting the whole picture and relating all facts fairly • Video: Advertising example
Goals of Ethical Communication • Communicating Clearly • use language comprehensible to average reader • short sentences, simple words, clear organization • Example: performance goals
Goals of Ethical Communication • Giving Credit • Referring to originators’ names within the text • Using quotation marks • Documenting sources • Verbal credit for ideas from peers/subordinates
Tools for Doing the Right Thing Utilitarianism Virtue Rights Justice Caring Common Good
Rotary 4-Way Test Of the things we think, say or do: • Is it the TRUTH? • Is it FAIR to all concerned? • Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? • Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?"
Why is this bothering me? Am I genuinely perplexed? Am I afraid to do what I know is right? Who else matters? Implications for customers, peers shareholders? How does the problem appear from the other side? Is it my responsibility? What will happen if I do/ don’t act? What is the ethical concern? Legal obligation? Honesty, fairness, promise-keeping, avoiding harm? Whom can give me advice? Supervisor, peers, HR, legal, ethics hot line? Am I being true to myself? Consistency with my values and personal commitments? With company values? Can I share my decision with family, colleagues, customers? Can I see my decision on the front page of the newspaper? Framework for Identifying and Resolving Ethical Issues(source: Dunn & Bradstreet)
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics (Santa Clara College) • What benefits and harms are produced which action best overall? • What moral rights to the parties have which action respects those rights? • Which action treats all equally? • Which action advances the common good? • Which action develops moral virtue?
Ethical Communication = Honesty/Integrity “Being honest means more than not deceiving. For leaders within organizations, being honest means do not promise what you can’t deliver, do not misrepresent, do not hide behind spin-doctored evasions, do not suppress obligations, do not evade accountability, do not accept that the ‘survival of the fittest’ pressures of business release any of us from the responsibility to respect another’s dignity and humanity.” Dalla Costa The Ethical Imperative 1998