Critical Essay on Ethics Communication in Organizations 425 Thursday 23, 2009 Ethical communication is an important prerequisite for effectiveness for both individuals and entire organizations (Shockley-Zalabak, 2009 p. 114). I believe that ethical communication is most effective when individuals and organizations respect and encourage diverse opinions, do not tolerate communication that degrades and harms others, and balance the sharing of information with a respect for privacy, and listen for understanding and empathy before evaluating and critiquing ideas.
Thomas Nilsen describes communication he believes to be morally right as that which provides the listener with the information needed to make a choice and the reasoning that would make rational decisions possible; it must then help the listener to make the most reasonable choice. The National Communication Association (NCA) states: “Ethical communication enhances human worth and dignity by fostering truthfulness, fairness, responsibility, personal integrity, and respect for self and other. Regardless whether ethical communication is described as supporting informed choice making or valuing the innate worth of human beings, individuals must take responsibility for personal behavior and how it affects their organization. Additionally, there used to be a time in corporate America when gender discrimination was very easy to find. A respected female executive would lose a promotion to a male colleague with less experience, for instance, or a talented female manager would find herself demoted after her maternity leave.
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Today such blatant cases are rare; they’ve been wiped out by laws and by organizations’ increased awareness that they have nothing to gain, and much to lose, by keeping women out of positions of authority. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee (EEOC) in Fiscal Year 2008 received 28,372 charges of sex-based discrimination. They resolved 24,018 charges and recovered $109. 3 million in monetary benefits for charging parties and other aggrieved individuals (EEOC, 2009). But this only the tip of the iceberg; discrimination against women lingers in a plethora of work practices and cultural norms that only appear unbiased.
They are common and mundane???and woven into the fabric of an organization’s status quo???which is why most people don’t notice them, let alone question them. The situations that I have just mentioned are ethical dilemmas that I have chosen to analyze and in the next few paragraphs I will explain what I would do if I were faced with either predicament. I decided to work for a task force that was asked to recommend to the city council how the city’s Park and Recreation Department could better serve low-income members of our community. Our task force has been plagued by disagreement and the report is due to city council in a few weeks.
I personally feel that the budget should be expanded to enhance the quality of life for the low-wage earner. I have an interview tonight that would allow me to present my personal view and help shape the minds of the council and the public to accept my position. My ethical conscience got the best of me during my interview. I stated my opinion but also made the public aware that there was a dissenting perspective within our group. I ended my interview by stating, “That with everyone thoroughly analyzing the issue it would allow us to present the best recommendation to the city council”.
I think our text sums it up best, “When ethical communication is applied to the organizational setting, individuals and groups engage in communication behaviors that thoughtfully analyze problems and issues, are open to divers types and sources of information, conduct deliberations openly without hidden agendas, and not only respect different viewpoints but also encourage disagreement and dissent to produce superior ideas and solutions” (Shockley-Zalabak, 2009 p. 116). My appointment as personnel director for my company forced me to resign my position on the task force.
One of the most important responsibilities in my new job is to screen all applicants for promotions to management positions. Standard company protocol is to select the top three applicants for further interviews with management. I have selected three qualified individuals that been very effective in their current positions and will be valuable asset on the presidents. But I have a dilemma, all of the candidates are women and the president has made it painfully clear that he does not want a female on his staff.
I do not agree with his attitude and I have decided that I must take an ethical stand and confront him about his discriminatory posture. Our meeting lasted about two hours and I mustered up enough courage and reminded him that gender discrimination was illegal and unethical according to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He said he was very aware of the law but felt that women had no place in the corporate board room and as long as he remained president he would see to it that they stayed in their rightful place … as subordinates.
I was dumfounded by his statements and continued to voice my point my perspective. He told me that he was justified in his belief and that if I continued to press the issue that I would suffer the consequences. I paused for a minute and steeped in resolution I decided that I could not perpetuate a policy that went against my beliefs. I informed my boss that I would resign my position immediately due to his blatant refusal to abide by the law.
Moreover, I said even if we did place a female in the position that would change reality but it would not change his perception of that reality, in essence he would still feel the same way about women. It takes changing one’s perception before change can take hold. Few corporate presidents engage in behavior that is to this extreme but is important to remember while developing our personal communication competency we must be aware of our behavior and learn to confront negative behaviors exhibited by others (Shockley-Zalabak, 2009 p. 24). All organizations that want to remain relevant must understand the importance of ethics in the workplace. This means their ethical intent must be heard in their words and must be demonstrated in their actions. The practice of “ethical relativism” in corporate America has been practiced far too long and is degraded everyday by capable women being placed in positions of authority.
Ultimately, it will take every individual being committed to self-awareness, clarity of personal values, and learning to confront negative behaviors in others in order for ethics and ethical communication to thrive. . References National Communication Association (2000). Credo on Ethical Communication. Retrieved on 22 April 2009 from: http://www. natcom. org/policies/External/EthnicalComm. htm Shockley-Zalabak, (2009) Fundamentals of Organizational Communication, (7th ed. ), Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.