It may be tempting to ‘learn as you go’ when next faced with an ethical dilemma to resolve. That might work on the odd occasion, but it will be a gamble, for you personally and for your firm. Here are three reasons why some preparation is worthwhile.
Firstly, the ethical dimension of such dilemmas means that questions about values, loyalties, responsibilities and principles will always be present. They can be wrapped round with quite a lot of emotion and personal interests. That can turn them into something of a minefield, the quid pro quo of which is that being prepared for how to tackle them helps avoid them blowing up in front of you.
Secondly, ethical dilemmas come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They can involve only one or two people, or whole departments, or be concerned with very local issues or something of strategic importance to the firm. Some can be dealt with quickly, while others could trigger serious disciplinary or regulatory investigations. The shape and size of the dilemma that’s just landed on your desk may not be obvious from the outset. It makes sense to approach them all with some degree of thought and care.
And thirdly, people will be watching, for ethical dilemmas are often about issues that people find interesting. Staff will be looking on, wondering what the repercussions might be. Directors will be keeping an eye on developments in case something unpleasant emerges and awkward questions are put to them about it. Being seen to handle them with confidence, knowing what needs to be done from beginning to end, will help mark you out as a reliable professional.
So, here comes the plug. I’ve written a free ebook called ‘How to Tackle Ethical Dilemmas with Confidence’. It’s available for download from the ‘guides’ section of this website. It explains what is meant by an ethical dilemma, then sets out some clear steps for tackling them and rounds off with how some of the people involved in your ethical dilemma might challenge the process.
Over the next couple of months, I’ll be publishing some worked-through examples of ethical dilemmas that people in insurance and financial planning can come across, plus some examples for you to have a go at resolving yourself. Any suggestions of the scenarios I might use would be welcome!