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Q: Social responsibility and business ethics ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Social responsibility and business ethics
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: afzan-ga
List Price: $3.00
Posted: 23 Jun 2002 08:12 PDT
Expires: 30 Jun 2002 08:12 PDT
Question ID: 31891
1. How can we women be accepted as equal by male peers especially in
high positions?

2. After an acquisition practice, our annual leave had been decreased
tremendously, therefore is it ethical for us to request that we enjoy
our previous leave entitlement.  And is it socially responsible or
socially obligated or socially responsive that our new CEO would grant
the request?

3. As a woman holding a very  senior post, should I be  involved in
investigating a woman employee had made on her superior with regards
to sexual harassment.  Both the male and female has had cases before
but was not implicated.  Male - sexual harassment; woman - had
implicated 2 men before on same charges.

4.  Is it ethical for me to fight to promote a long time employee of
mine, even though I know that she could not contribute her total
commiment to the firm in terms of time since her daughter was born. 
But she is damn good.

Thank you in advanced for replying my queries.
Subject: Re: Social responsibility and business ethics
Answered By: drjmetz-ga on 25 Jun 2002 08:13 PDT
I'll take a stab at this.  Truly some very interesting questions. :)

1.  "How can we women be accepted as equal..."
Obviously, it's the big question in workplace equality, and certainly
you're going to have your hands full with reading material.

Obviously, the scope of your question extends far beyond any
particular workplace, and the answers you will find will range from
focusing on the individual, the workplace, society, education, and
even the complex nature of the universe. :)

Here are some organizations that might help you answer that question
for yourself:
ICA Global Women's Committee:
International Labour Organization: (this
deals with violence against women at work)
UN's Division for the Advancement of Women:
and, of course, NOW:

Legislation  about Gender Equality

What some other countries have been doing
South Africa:

For some practical advice, try some of these sites:
Workplace Solutions:
The Ladies Club 2000:
Advancing Women:

For sake of brevity, I've left out the thousands or so essays on the
subject. :)  If, however, you're interested in a masculine point of
view, try:

There are quite a few books on the subject to help you as well.  You
might try:
Be Your Own Mentor: Strategies from Top Women on the Secrets of
Sheila W. Wellington  Betty Spence  $25.95.

Bold Women, Big Ideas: Learning to Play the High-Risk Entrepreneurial
Kay Koplovitz  Peter Israel Retail Price: $26.00

Female Advantage: Women's Ways of Leadership
Sally Helgesen Retail Price $16.95

Going to the Top: A Road Map for Success from America's Leading Women
Carol A. Gallagher  Susan K. Golant  Retail Price: $14.00

In the Company of Women: Turning WorkPlace Conflicts into Powerful
Pat Heim  Susan A. Murphy  With Susan K. Golant  Susan K. Golanat 
Retail Price: $24.95

2.  "Is it ethical for us to request that we enjoy our previous leave
This is a much more subjective question to answer.  The question
implies another: "Is it ethical for whom?"  As a woman holding a very
senior post, the implication is that you are acting as a
representative (official or not) for your subordinates - your
"fiduciary."  As someone acting on their behalf, the answer is yes. 
If, on the other hand, you are acting in the interest of damaging the
company, the answer is no.  How can you tell the difference?

Typically, after a M&A, a company is left - for the initial period -
structurally weaker with regards to its personnel.  The uncertainty of
the future, the financial blow to the bottom line, the prospect of
change (that's why there are change management consultants everywhere
nowadays) may indicate that this is not the best time for a company to
start giving away money for no work.  There may be a tradeoff,
however, if morale is threatened to the point where the company will
lose valuable people in the long run if they're not happy.  From the
employees perspective, after all, they've taken a hit since the

If you're unsure how to approach the topic, here are some books that
might be useful to you:
Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People
G. Richard Shell  Richard G. Shell Retail Price: $14.00
Complete Negotiator 
Gerard I. Nierenberg Retail Price: $19.95

Conflict Resolution 
Daniel Dana Retail Price: $14.95

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss what Matters Most
by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen, Roger Fisher.  Retail
Price: $14.00

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In
Roger Fisher  William Ury  Retail Price: $11.00

3.  "Should I be involved in investigating a [complaint]"
In this day and age, you are going to run into two basic schools of
First, companies should have a zero-tolerance policy against sexual
Second, there is a backlash against sexual harassment charges
Here's the kicker:  both are correct.

It sounds as if you are concerned that the woman may be crying wolf. 
At the same time, this may just be a legitimate complaint.  How can
you tell?

First, understand that the very nature of the complaint automatically
makes you - as a supervisor/executive/etc. - legally responsible.  If
your company has a legal department, keep them abreast of the issue
immediately and never for a moment leave them out of the loop.  This
can wind up costing you and the company more than you can imagine.

Second, it might be a good idea to set out a policy in writing of a
"loser pays" type of system.  What we don't want is for this woman to
continue crying wolf (if that's what she's doing).  Likewise, we don't
want a guy who's a habitual harasser.  Such a policy would then
indicate very clearly a couple of things:
1.  Sexual harassment is a very serious charge, and can damage the
reputation and career of any involved.
2.  Complaints of sexual harassment will be investigated thoroughly. 
Reasonable differences between coworkers will be handled in private
negotiations (or something to this effect).
3.  Sexual harassment will not be tolerated under any circumstances;
violators of this policy will be terminated from the company
4.  Frivolous charges of sexual harassment will not be tolerated under
any circumstances; violators found to have made frivolous charges of
sexual harassment will be terminated from the company.
Now, that's just MY suggestion. :)

If you want other ideas, you can check out some of these places:
Nolo: Law for All: (this site allows you to ask the question and have
attorneys answer it for you for a fee:
Sexual Harassment - Attention all employers:
Workplace Liability:
and, not surprisingly,

Also, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of books on the subject:
Academic and Workplace Sexual Harassment: A Resource Manual (Suny
Series, the Psychology of Women)
by Richard B. Barickman, Michele Antoinette Paludi  List Price: $22.50

Addressing Sexual Harassment in the WorkPlace: Trainer's Package
Pfeiffer and Co. Staff  Our Price: $110.00

Employment Law for Business  3RD
Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander  Laura Pincus Hartman  Laura P. Hartman Our
New Price: $109.75

Federal Law of Employment Discrimination in a Nutshell  
Mack A. Player  Our New Price: $23.50

Implementing Sexual Harassment Policy: Challenges for the Public
Sector WorkPlace
Laura A. Reese  Karen E. Lindenberg  Our Price: $88.95

Personnel Law  
Kenneth L. Sovereign Our New Price: $49.00

4. "Is it ethical to fight to promote a long time employee..."
Again, when asking the question "is it ethical," it's important to
address who the relevant people are being affected.  Motherhood in the
workplace is a controversial issue, as mothers are starting to get
pretty noisy about benefits that include the ones you're talking

Here are some questions that need to be addressed:  Are there other
qualified candidates for this promotion?  If she did not have the
child, would her performance warrant a promotion?  For the tasks that
will be involved in the new position, where would the priorities lie? 
Is this candidate willing to do what it takes to perform the duties in
this position to the absolute best of her ability, to the point that
another candidate does not make sense?  Has she had to miss projects,
work, or other work-related elements that required someone to fill in
for her (who probably didn't get compensated for doing her work)?

Promotions, it seems to me, should be provided not just as a reward
for past performance, but the potential for excellence in the new

Here come the "ifs"...

IF the employee is exemplary and the work is accomplished in a fashion
that has not suffered due to reduced time, and
IF there is no other candidate more suitable for the requirements of
the position, and
IF she hasn't placed the responsibility of her workload on someone
else, and
IF she is willing to accept responsibility for the requirements of the
position knows that she is being paid as an employee, not a mother,
IF the quality of her work in the NEW position warrants bypassing all
others, then support her.

If not, then don't.  Remember, she made a choice to have a child, just
like others made a choice to focus on a career doing their best for
YOUR company. She made the choice based on what was best for her.   It
is well within the company's rights (and ethically and morally
responsible) to make a choice based on what would be best for the

The search I followed was done using Apple's Sherlock function, so I
don't have specific search URLs for you, but here are some of the
terms that I used:
motherhood in the workplace
sexual harassment in the workplace
women and gender equality in the workplace
gender equality policy
leave negotiation

Good luck,

Subject: Re: Social responsibility and business ethics
From: crutch-ga on 24 Jun 2002 21:17 PDT
1.  What ought I do to change a thing I cannot change?  Do not waste
your energy.

Equality is a difficult concept to discuss.  On one hand, we have
economic equality, which should be based more on skill and application
rather than gender, then we have social equality, which is based on
arbitrary value judgments from peers.  Economic equality requires
social equality.  Val Plumwood may blame it on the "logic of
domination," the inherited mindset of destruction-for-profit from the
enlightenment and rationalists.

The good thing is that our society (including all developed nations)
is changing from natural-resource based profit to information profit. 
Why is this good?  Because we all have a brain, regardless of our
plumbing.  I think our society is quickly and rapidly shifting, and
the most any woman can do in a high position is live and act
truthfully to themselves, regardless of how contrary this may appear
to old men and their stereotypes.

Paradigms change, but it takes time.

2.  Ought I ask for my vacation time?  Depends on your CEO.

In order two understand your CEO's decision, you must first understand
his style of thought.  There are two fundamental business models, one
is referred to as the "stakeholder model" and the other is referred to
as the "shareholder model."  The stakeholder model demands the
attentions of the CEO be divided equally among all who hold a "stake"
in the companies operations and success; that is, the local community,
employee happiness (retirement, benefits, etc), the environment, and
those who stand to profit such as the shareholders.  There are still
companies like this, I'll provide examples upon request.  The latter
model - the shareholder model - demands the attentions of the CEO
focus on one object: maximizing profits for the shareholders.  This
focus must supercede anything, and a CEO is working in his ethical
boundaries ONLY when he or she is maximizing these profits.  If a CEO
knowingly participates in behavior that is contrary his or her goal,
he or she is acting outside of their ethical boundaries.

So what kind of CEO do you have?  Shareholder?  Forget it. 
Stakeholder?  Ask away.

3.  Ought I help a sista in need?  You're d*mn right.

Put yourself in her shoes.  Or, better yet, put yourself in everyone's
shoes.  Let us apply John Rawl's veil of ignorance to the situation. 
Rawl's had this handy ethical compass he called the veil of ignorance.
 Imagine you were a little unborn soul sitting on a cloud watching the
Earth.  Now imagine you have the option of choosing whether or not
people will provide objective justice for what may be right.  Now,
imagine you don't know who you will be born - you, or your co-worker
with the pending lawsuit and perhaps a just cause.  Which do you
choose?  Objective justice or passive bystanding?

Remember, by investigating you are not standing up for her and you are
not negating her claims.  You are simply trying to bring truth into
the fray, and do your best to retain justice and equality in the work
place.  Worried about repercussions?  Don't be.  This is one of the
most popular gender-related issues in today's workplace, and by being
an objective investigator and truthful, you can handle this in the
most appropriate way.

4.  Ought a keep a chick (who is kick-butt amazing) with a kid in my
firm?  Depends.

You're at one of the most difficult crossroads in a multi-gender
workplace, and the most stinging argument of gender-seperationists. 
Ought a woman with a child continue to work?  Certainly!  The question
is how much.  No law or quantitative formula can be made, which is one
of the big problems.  Kids are unpredictable - things come up.  It
would be in your best interest to keep her at your firm - remember,
intelligent people are so because they surround themselves with
intelligence.  Sounds like you'll need to come up with a compromise
that can allow her to contribute her abilities to the firm and still
take care of her kid.  You're a pioneer in a mixed-gender workplace,
don't take this position lightly and don't fulfill a self-destructive
habit of rejecting a coworker because of biology.  How you treat this
situation will determine how future generations are treated.

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