A friend of mine whom I was fairly close towas stealing office supplies from work. I noticedKaren taking computer paper, pencils, pens, etc. Iknew she was using them for personal use, not forwork-related use.This is where my dilemma came in: Do I say something to her and risk her becoming angry? Do I go to my boss and Karen be fired? Do I ignore the stealing and let it continue? I didn’t want to ruin my friendship, but I knewthis was wrong.
Is she truly taking it home or what is she really doing with it after work? Does she truly think this is immoral? What is going on in her life to make her want to steal and not go buy her own? Is she struggling financially?I started to watch her; I watched her leave fromwork and study what she did with themerchandise. I started to take notes on what dayand what time she took stuff.
I could confront her about it and risk losing a friendship. I could tell my boss about it and my friend not know I was the one who told. I could tell my co-workers and ask them what to do, have one of them confront her. I could ignore it. I could put a spreadsheet by the supplies and have my co- workers record what supplies they are taking (when and why). If the amount taken matches and each person does not take more than necessary then I will let it go. If not, then I will report to the boss.Here is a YouTube video that shows exactly how hard it is to dothe right thing sometimes: (I do not like the ending though.)Transit - YouTube
Confronting her: It is legal. Will it be beneficial? I am not sure, she could decide to steal the products when nobody else is there, end our friendship, and create a poor work environment for both of us. Telling my boss: It is legal. I think this would be beneficial because my boss could end it without an argument between Karen and I. Telling my co-workers: Legal, but I don’t think it would be beneficial. This would cause more office drama, rumors, and bad feelings at work. Ignoring it: Legal in a way, but ignoring it is just as bad as doing in my opinion. This would definitely not be beneficial. Karen is doing something illegal and wrong. I saw it, which makes me responsible to do the right thing. Putting up an inventory sheet: Legal and beneficial, but would have to get boss’s permission. Also, this could cause office rumors regarding the sheet (why is it up, who’s stealing, etc.)
I chose to talk to Karen; ask her what is going onand why she is doing that. She is a very kind andhonest person, why would she behave soerroneously? I will keep a close eye and keep aneye on the supplies; make sure she quit. Makesure she isn’t fooling herself into thinking this isokay and not a big deal. There is a TED Talk thatdiscusses our society and why we think cheatingand stealing is okay sometimes.Here is the link: Dan Ariely: Our Buggy MoralCode
How will I feel if my family finds out about my decision? They already know what is going on and I have talked to them about it. They said I should go to my boss. How will I feel if this is reported in the newspaper? I will feel fine. I am not ignoring it and I am trying to tell my friend and my boss without ruining my friendship or work atmosphere. I should tell my boss first, but I believe people are moral and honest. I think if I confront her about it, she will burst out crying, tell me how ashamed she is, and stop stealing. How will I feel if my boss finds out (if Karen gets her act together and I don’t tell my boss)? I will probably be afraid Karen will be fired and afraid I will receive disciplinary action since I did not tell my employer first.
Now for the good part! I talked to Karen about heractions after work in the parking lot. We sat down in the backof my truck and discussed why she did it. She explained she ishaving financial trouble and her kids needed supplies forschool and homework. I explained I would help her out withmoney; I am not rich or anything, but she can’t be saving thatmuch with stealing computer paper. I explained that this iswrong and she can’t be doing this. I said, “You can’t be stealingfrom work; they will make you pay for all the stuff you stoleand fire you. You have two kids and a husband to support. Heis out of work right now and you are the bread-winner. Youcan’t risk losing your job!” She agreed and agreed not to steal again. She knew it waswrong but felt there were no other options. She told me shewould tell our boss what she did and will work extra hoursundocumented to make up for the items she stole.
As you can see, this worked out fairly wellfor me; I was able to talk to her and she told our boss herself. Karen was not fired, but she did have to pay for the supplies she stole. Our employer trusted Karen to tellthem how much she stole because she was up front and honest with them about her stealing. It worked out better for all of us. There are not a lot of ethical dilemmastories like this one, which is why I chose it!