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This article will tackle the issue of ethical and virtue principles that should be adhered to in the work place, at many times employees are usually faced with the uphill task, wherethey encounter some difficult situation and have to make a decision, knowing well that some of these decisions might affect others negatively. This article will tackle some of the options that employees might consider and also the consequences that they may face if they when they stick to such decisions.

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Alice is facing a very difficult situation both in her carrier and social life. She together with Mark are employees of a Nutritional Company (NC), they have worked together ever since graduating from college with degrees in business, this leads to a very close relationship between Alice andMark who is married with two three year old twins, Alice assumes the duties of a babysitter when the two couples take some time out and are out of the house. One day when Mark and his wife were away from the house and Alice was taking care of the kids, she came across some materials that appeared to be work related, out of curiosity she went ahead and read thoroughly through the document.

The content of the documents were not appealing to her as they contained confidential information of errors in the amount of vitamins that had exceeded the required amount by 150% as stipulated by the company. Alice knew very clearly that these is a violation of the companies laws on how the product should be manufactured, she is faced with the dilemma of acting as a professional and a loyal employee of NC and report the matter to the relevant authorities of the company that would lead to the immediate sucking of Mark or act as family friend and not report the matter to the management, she doesn’t want to see the family suffers since Mark is the sole bread winner of the family.






With the ethical reasoning of employees in regards to the work place, the ethics department has reviewed the following theories that Alice should consider before making her conclusion.

  1. 1.      The Golden Rule

Linda, Trevino andNelson (2007) state the golden rule as you do to others as you would have them do to you. In the Alice situation the golden rule suggest that Alice should not report the matter to the authorities because she expects Mark to do the same if the situation was reversed and she was the one who had committed this offence.  This rule will only lead Alice to arrive at the best decision if she is highly ethical, if Alice would  lie and keep the secret, she has allowed  herself to lie for the sake of her friend, then she should be able to live with the consequences of her own illegal actions this means that if the higher office would find out in any other way that Alice had prior knowledge of this illegal action, then she should be able to face the law for keeping information that would have a catastrophic ramifications for the company. Alice should consider all aspects before arriving at a decision.

Cunning (1998) claims that the golden rule is used in business to determine if a proposed action is good or not. Thus, if Alice was to take the matter to the higher management, could her ethical judgments be blinded by the fact that Mark is a close friend and if the roles were reversed? Could she want Mark to do the same for her, if the decision would harm her?  In a certain way then, the golden rule prevents Alice from going to the authorities and reporting Mark of his actions. The golden rule guides an individual in the rightpath in making a decision in a given situation.Cunning (1998) goes ahead and explains that the golden rule is useful when there is an independent ground for determining the morality of an act. In this situation, Alice should take time and study why Mark committed this offence. Could it be as a result of anger, deliberate mistake or did could he have done it because he had no otherwise?  Maybe he had been influenced by some external forces. After a careful review Alice should be able to know what cause of action to take against Mark. The golden rule states that we should act impartially and not break the moral rules. There are some series of rules in the golden rule that we should consider at all times.

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   2. Virtue Ethics

Linda, Trevino, Nelson (2007) states that an individual virtue Ethics as one character, which may be defined by the relevant community: a community that holds you to the highest ethical standards. Alice as a professional in business knows the expectations of the customers. The customers in this case are the community and she must have read some code of conduct as a professional that will guide her through her professionalism. It is therefore very important for her to think about the wider community and how her decision would impact that community. For instance, if she decides to keep quiet and not tell the company about what she found out, what would be the impact on the community if the harmful product finds its way to the market?  If so, what can Alice do to stop the product from entering the market knowing well that this product can have a negative effect on the people who consumes it?


In conclusion, ethical issues are hard to put up when it comes to a business setting. In this case the ethical thing that Alice should have done in terms of business was to report Mark to the authorities. The other side of the case is that Mark is her friend and she wants to make the friendship continue. In addition to all this, the fact that Alice had intruded into Mark’s privacy, was not ethical at all.

This, leads to people not adhering to the ethical issues in a business setting. No matter how hard you want to become ethical in your day to day business setting, there comes a time that this has to be done contrary to what is expected.


Adams, G.B, & Balfour, D.L. (2011).Research on social problems and public affairs. The masked dynamics of ethical failures and administrative evil. Emerald group publishing limited.

Beatty, J.F,& Samuelson, S.S. (2005).Virtue ethics. Essentials of business laws. Published by Bob dawey.

Cunnings, W.P. (1998).The golden rule as universal Ethical norms, journal of business.

Trevino, L.K, &Nelson K.A. (2207).Deciding what’s right: a prescription approach. Managing Business Ethics.

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