Introduction eight steps to ethical decision making
IntroductionThe Eight Step Module is a tool that can be used to help individuals make good ethical decisions.I the individual follows these steps; he/she will be better equipped and well informed about theethical dilemmas that may be present, as well as the ability to effectively resolve these dilemmas.Step One: Gather the FactsThis step involves gathering facts questionnaires, surveys, checklists, interviews, documentationreview such as procedures and training given, a review of regulation both company and federal.Observations of certain processes and case studies may also come into play with this step.Information and all data must be accurate; this is critical in avoiding any biased addition to factsand in deterring neglecting information due to unethical decisions to either protect or injure thecompany that is involved in the incident(s) being investigated. According to Managing BusinessEthics, Fifth Edition written and lectured by Linda Klebe Trevino and Katherine A. Nelson,“Many ethical choices are particularly difficult because of the uncertainty involved in them.”Facts in the Pinto Fires Case Study:Ø Aug. 10, 1978 three teenage girls were killed as a direct result from a fire that occurred withthe Ford Pinto they were occupying.Ø Ford began selling the Pinto in 1970.Ø Reckless homicide charges were pressed against the Ford Motor Company.Ø In 1968 Ford decided to join the foreign competition in the small car market.
Ø Time span from conception to production at the time of inception of the Pinto wasapproximately over three and a half years.Ø When the Ford Pinto was being manufactured it was planned that it was not going to costanything over two thousand dollars and it was not going to weigh anything over two thousandpounds. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/3044629Ø In crash tests resulted in the gas tank rupturing nearly every time.Ø In 1976 studies showed that hundreds of thousands of cars burned every year.Ø All Pintos in 1977 were created with a rupture proof fuel tank design.Ø Iacocca, then president of Ford, often said that “Safety doesn’t sell”.Ø Ford estimated that the cost to society for losing a human life was $200, 275.Ø Improvements to gas tanks were not justified according to the cost of the $11.00 gas tankimprovement and the cost of dying in a Pinto.Ø In 1973 the Field Recall Coordinator, after receiving reports that the Pinto could explode witha rear end collision at even low speeds, chose to not recall the vehicle.Ø 1972 Richard Grimshaw was awarded 6.3 million dollars, (Article Source:http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3468303092.html ) for the rear end collision he wasinvolved in which the Pinto he was occupying caught fire after the gas tank ruptured.Ø June 1978 Ford recalled all Pintos that were created between the years of 1970-1976.
Ø 1980 During the Indiana trial representatives of Ford Motor Company made the argument thatcost/benefit decisions are made all the time by companies.Ø Victim’s pain and suffering was estimated to cost 10,000 dollars according to Table 1 entitled“What’s Your Life Worth?” created by the National Highway of Traffic Safety Administration.Ø 1968 crash tests guidelines were established by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard301 and were proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.Ø Further investigation into the crash tests results revealed that Ford knew of the faulty gas tankand that it was susceptible to rupture if hit in rear end collisions of 31 miles per hour. Every carcontaining the faulty gas tank failed.Ø Ford valued the trunk space instead of placing the gas tank in a safer position on the car whichwould include taking up some of the trunk space.Step Two: Define the Ethical IssuesThis step is weighing out the pros and cons with holding and divulging certain facts. What factsof a situation could actually be harmful to a person or group of people and actually harm societyor a company. We are to think about our decisions and map out so to speak, what and who ourdecisions will affect. According to our text book, Managing Business Ethics, we are to even askclose individuals in our lives if we have perhaps overlooked an issue with the problem at hand.
Consequentialist Perspective. This case could possibly be the view of the outcome of the company if the cars are recalled in the beginning years or months of the dilemmas of the Pinto. The conduct of those that decided to not spend any more money into the car despite the failed results in the crash tests could have resulted in lost jobs by those individuals, company disgrace, a lost job for the individual that ordered the recall and the public outcry and chaos that could arise. Deontological perspective. This case is definitely the loss of human life and the price that was estimated per human being that would possibly be lost. There is not a price and it invaluable would lead the deontological to report all of the truths found. For example the multiple crash tests along with those responsible to recall the vehicles not doing so would most especially come into play.Step Three: Identify the Affected PartiesThis step is about who has what to lose, who benefits/gains and who has the most to lose? Whatexactly would the affected party or parties be at risk of losing? Is the desired outcome monetarygain, lessen the impact of monetary loss? Or perhaps the businesses’ unblemished reputation isthe desired outcome. A deontological point of view would be to perhaps not consider themonetary loss or gain or even the reputation of the company at all but instead to focus theattention on the drivers of the vehicle and those who would potentially be in the vehicle withthem. Attention would also be given to the community that an incident occurred in and what that
person contributed or could have contributed to that community. Family members of thoseindividuals would also be affected and their lives changed forever. If the person was “alone” inthe world most definitely they are still as important but would naturally have a different effect onsociety. In the short term Ford continuing to make a profit on cost effective vehicles appears as ifthey are benefiting; however a look into the long term clearly shows that in the upcoming yearstheir reputation was damaged and their “bottom line” affected. The possible benefits if it at allmay be called one, is from the Richard Grimshaw case. After this horrific accident the muchneeded recall occurred.Step Four: Identify the Consequences Long-Term Versus Short-Term Consequences. With this step I would identify the long term consequences against the short term. What would the benefits be if all the facts were revealed? Maybe it was just one instance that an incident occurred and maybe it could never happen again. Then again what if it; the probability or the infamous “what if” has to be asked and presented in every negative occurrence. An example of this could be something simple as well such as the growing oilfield industry…sure spending money now and hiring an abundant amount of people to meet customer demands seems great but what if it drops again; the long term consequence of the increase in hiring would be the job layoffs later and the employees that perhaps didn’t have the good sense to save money. Something isn’t right but would it be worse to keep it hidden or would it be even worse to go public? The short term consequences in this case are negative field reports. Here again it would seem that the Ford company’s Recall Coordinator made a good call for the company in deciding not to
recall the Ford Pinto despite all the complaints of the rupturing gas tank. It seems like awin for Ford; the company gets to save face, sell more cars, make more money, gainmore clout for delivering on a cost effective car that resulted in a huge profit. The longterm consequences of ignoring the issue with the car could be weighed by theconsequentialist in terms of the loss of a job if anyone higher than his/her position titlefound out field reports were ignored. The possibility of jail time would also be a focus, ifthe public ever found out that warnings were given and still nothing was ever done orcorrected for so long even after the standard was incepted.Symbolic Consequences.The symbolic consequences of this particular case are that the public, those that wereinvolved in fires resulting of a rear end impact in the Pinto and reported the problem toFord were overlooked. That sent out a message to them; Ford, although not directlystating it, didn’t care for the customers that they catered to, only their pocketbooks.Consequences of Secrecy.Consequences of secrecy in this case study I again would say are those RecallCoordinators that did absolutely nothing with the field reports that they received. If fearor intimidation existed among them as to the loss of their job they could have chosen toreveal test studies as well as field reports to a media outlet but they chose not to and as aresult people continued to be damaged and killed.
Step Five: Identify the ObligationsWith this step the identification of each of the roles in a dilemma along with their obligations isat question. For instance a mother who is also a teacher could have one of their own childrenattending the same school they teach at and one day she sees her daughter painting graffiti on aschool bus. The consequence of those students caught doing so is one week suspension and finalexams are closing in. The mother/teacher must make a decision based on her obligations. Shecould choose to reprimand her daughter at home, keeping the whole act secret which wouldallow her daughter to return to school or she could turn her daughter in to the principal as she hasdone other students and let her face the consequences. The Ford Motor Company chose to makecars and trucks, transportation devices that would carry human lives form point a to point b andin doing so they accepted the responsibility that comes with transporting human lives. Theirobligation is to not only their customer but to society as a whole and yes even the environmentthat was impacted by flames of a vehicle. Obligations that should have began prior to theshowroom and commercials were to re design the car to allow for the fuel tank to be located in abetter spot on the vehicle such as the trunk or side with added room, with limited regard to themoney that it cost to create the Ford Pinto. The rights of those individuals then and the rights ofthe drivers today now are able to have their rights exercised with a sad price paid…the death ofpeople. We now have strict standards associated with the design of our automobiles and thewhole “safety doesn’t sell” theory and attitude is a passing thought now.Step Six: Consider Your Character and IntegrityI am to take a good look at myself and define my character and what core values I hold thatallow me to help make decisions especially those that need to be made rather quickly. I apply
this step with the Golden Rule and in stating that I have pretty much disclosed how I consider myintegrity to be and that is one that is based on treating others as I would have them treat me. I’dlike to think I do things right simply because they are the right thinks to do for example my workethic; there is nothing stating that I must pick up a piece of paper in the hallway and uponpicking it up realize that it has employee information on it and immediately shred it but I woulddo so anyway dimply because throwing it in the trash could mean that I have helped in makingthat employee susceptible to identity theft. I am also against embryonic stem cell research, in factan advocate against it. I believe that simply because a person is sick it does not give them theright to take a human life and use it for their own personal gain to simply make them morecomfortable or prolong their life even if they have family, friends and loved ones. That does notmean that another person should be robbed of the same gifts, chance and opportunities. Doingthe right thing even when no one is around is also important to me. It shouldn’t matter ifsomeone is around to give an account of your actions to or not the point is I know what is rightand I am capable of doing so with or without an audience.Step Seven: Think Creatively about Potential ActionsThis step is all about identifying possible solutions. Maybe there isn’t just a high road or just alow road, maybe there is the road that lies in between. Sometimes solutions are not always cutand dry and a decision must be made to best suit both affected parties. Such as in this case, welleventually, the Ford Pinto was still sold and profit was still made and consumers were able topurchase an affordable and now safe smaller car off the market that was made in America andnot in a foreign country. I would have well I would have went forward and recalled the Ford
Pinto as soon as I got wind of any problems that it had especially when it involved fires andpossible explosions.Step Eight: Check Your Gut