Ethi-call: What Would You Do?

A colleague on the executive team has come to you to help solve his dilemma. One of his female staff members has accused him of bullying and harassment. He had promoted her 4 months earlier into an acting up role (which you had advised against), but he went ahead despite your counsel. She has not performed well in the role and now your colleague on the executive team wants to performance manage her out of the organisation or preferably make her redundant. Beyond the legal obligations, what are the ethical considerations in this situation that require reflection? How will your decision (and recommendations) reflect the values and principles of your organisation? What ought one do?

It can be challenging to know what the right thing to do is, in these times of uncertainty and rapid change. Ethi-call is a free, confidential, decision-making helpline that can help you navigate the ethical dimensions of complex decisions. The service, started over 30 years ago by The Ethics Centre, has seen demand increase exponentially over the last year. Ethi-call is a free philosophical counselling service providing impartial support for the caller to find the right solution for them. Callers include board members, executives, politicians, professionals and the general public. Each Ethi-call session lasts for one hour and callers are guided through a series of questions to get clarity on the duties, virtues, relationships and consequences to consider.

The shades of grey we are all grappling with when it comes to decision making require us to sharpen our decision-making skills and co-ordinate perspectives with incomplete data. It can be challenging to know what the right thing to do is, especially when there are competing commitments, values tradeoffs, operating environment complexities such as climate change, changing community expectations and increased customer demands without factoring in the future of work and COVID. What was once a clear-cut decision, now has multiple systemic considerations, perspectives to understand and competing priorities, for example, do you prioritise short term return over long-term investment in social capital?

Ethi-call is a unique service that supports you to pause and reflect and consider different perspectives, whilst at the same time consider the decision from multiple ethical lenses. Looking at your decision through different ethical lenses can help surface information that you might not have considered and help change the way you are seeing the situation. The lenses don’t provide a solution or suggest an absolute right from wrong but help open up new possibilities and considerations.

Over half the Ethi-calls are from professional people struggling with the ethical dimensions of the decisions they make each day. I was at a board meeting recently and one of the board members said, “there are business decisions and there are ethical decisions, and they are different”. But are they? We would argue that all decisions have ethical considerations and the greater the complexity the increased need to reflect on the ethics at the heart of decisions. Ethi-call is a great resource to guide you to do this. You can make a booking with a counsellor via The Ethics Centre website