Ethics Case Study 1 (2023/20 Marks)
by Prince · Published · Updated
This scenario presents a complex ethical dilemma involving compassion, professional integrity, and legality.
(a) Ethical Issues Involved:
- Misuse of Power and Trust: The bank manager misused his authority and the trust placed in him by accessing a dormant account. This act breaches the ethical principle of integrity and honesty that is paramount in the banking sector.
- Legal Violations: Diverting funds from a dormant account, even temporarily, is illegal and contravenes banking regulations and laws. This raises concerns of accountability and transparency.
- Confidentiality and Professional Ethics: The manager’s request for confidentiality indicates awareness of the wrongful nature of the act, conflicting with ethical banking practices and professional conduct.
- Compassion versus Professional Duty: While the manager’s actions were driven by compassion, they conflicted with his professional duties. Balancing human empathy and professional responsibility is a key ethical challenge.
- Repayment Expectation: The expectation of repayment from the colleague, who is in a financially vulnerable position, adds an element of coercion and further complicates the ethical landscape.
(b) Evaluation of the Bank Manager’s Behavior:
- Compassion and Empathy: The manager demonstrated empathy and a desire to help, which are commendable human traits. However, empathy should align with ethical and legal boundaries.
- Breach of Legal and Ethical Standards: The manager’s behavior violated legal and ethical banking standards. While his intention was to help, ethical actions in professional settings must adhere to laws and institutional policies.
- Ends Justifying Means: This situation reflects the ethical dilemma of whether a good end (saving a life) can justify unethical means (misusing funds). In professional ethics, adherence to legal and ethical standards is paramount, regardless of the outcome.
- Setting a Precedent: Such actions, if unchecked, could set a dangerous precedent, potentially leading to misuse of power in more egregiously unethical or illegal ways.
(c) Reaction to the Situation:
- Seek Guidance and Report: The first step should be to discreetly seek guidance from a higher authority or an ethics committee within the bank, maintaining confidentiality of the involved parties.
- Advise Colleague: Encourage the colleague to understand the legal implications of the situation and consider alternative legal ways to resolve the financial burden.
- Promote Ethical Practices: Use this incident as an opportunity to advocate for ethical training and awareness within the organization, emphasizing the importance of adhering to legal and ethical standards even in challenging situations.
- Support Systems: Highlight the need for support systems within the organization, such as emergency funds or loans for employees in distress, ensuring that help can be offered legally and ethically.
In conclusion, while the manager’s intention to help was noble, it is crucial to uphold ethical and legal standards in professional capacities. This situation underscores the importance of ethical decision-making, balancing empathy with professional duty, and the need for institutional mechanisms to support employees in distress.