This case study is about a small management development consulting firm who issued this values statement:
“We strive to ad value to businesses by developing their staff, whilst maintaining value for individuals, whether they be employees, clients, or other stakeholders in our business or in the businesses of our clients. We deal fairly and honestly in all our actions. We seek to operate transparently, and to respect the dignity and contribution of all workers, whatever their individual demographic characteristics. We also respect the value of the environment and seek through our work to enhance the eco-sphere. Our guiding principle is never to do anything that we could not publicly defend”.
The study highlights a few ethical dilemmas that the company is faced with during challenging business times. The first scenario describes the complications with business growth and the correlation with the relationship between the founder of the consulting firm and the HR Director of the client. Due to this personal relationship, the firm was getting many of the contracts and it finally came into question by the Deputy Director of HR. There was a full scale review of the whole relationship with the FLS. Some changes were made to their agreements, tightening certain spending components; however, their overall relationship remained strong and the Deputy Director of HR was dismissed a few months later.
Another example describes when a new manager is hired by the client and the FLS consultant is asked, by this new manager, to breach the confidence of his staff mentoring interviews to provide insight as to which employees are committed to the job and which ones aren’t. The consultant does not provide this information to the new manager and reports the inappropriate conversation to the CEO of FLS. The CEO of FLS then calls the CEO of the client and shares his outrage and concern for the behavior of this new manager. When the new manager is questioned, he denies asking for this information and implies that it was actually the FLS consultant that was trying to offer him additional, inappropriate insight into their employees. The two CEOs decided it was a mis-communication and it was never dealt with beyond that.
1. Is it ethical to utilize personal relationships to help advance your business’s client-base?
2. If you were the consultant in the second scenario, how would you proceed in working for the firm and potentially the same client?