You have just been appointed as Additional Director General of Central Public Works Department. The Chief Architect of your division, who is to retire in six months, is passionately working on a very important project, the successful completion of which would earn him a lasting reputation for the rest of his life.
A new lady architect, Seema, trained at Manchester School of Architecture, UK joined as Senior Architect in your division. During the briefing about the project, Seema made some suggestions which would not only add value to the project, but would also reduce completion time. This has made the Chief Architect insecure and he is constantly worried that all the credit will go to her. Subsequently, he adopted a passive and aggressive behaviour towards her and has become disrespectful to her. Seema felt it embarrassing as the Chief Architect left no chance of humiliating her. He would very often correct her in front of other colleagues and raise his voice while speaking to her. This continuous harassment has resulted in her losing confidence and self- esteem. She felt perpetually tensed, anxious and stressed. She appeared to be in awe of him since he has had a long tenure in the office and has vast experience in the area of her work.
You are aware of her outstanding academic credentials and career record in her previous organisations. However, you fear that this harassment may result in compromising her much needed contribution in this important project and may adversely impact her emotional well-being. You have also come to know from her peers that she is contemplating tendering her resignation.
(a) What are the ethical issues involved in the above case?
(b) What are the options available to you in order to complete the project as well as to retain Seema in the organization?
(c) What would be your response to Seema’s predicament? What measures would you institute to prevent such occurrences from happening in your organization?
The given case highlights the poor work culture in public office due to the blind race of credit-tacking tendencies among public servants.
Ethical issues involved in the case
- Poor work culture- as it is clear from the case the relations of the various employees in the office are not cordial and the chief architect is harassing his junior.
- Compromised dignity– the unnecessary scolding of Seema by the chief architect is hurting her dignity
- Lack of ethical ecosystem– as it is from the case that one employee is thinking about resignation it shows that there is a lack of ethical ecosystem to regulate the behaviour of the employees.
- Taking strict action against the chief architect– Asking Seema to ignore the chief architect as much as possible.
- Asking the chief architect to mind his conduct concerning Seema.
My response to Seema’s predicament–
As soon as I come to know her predicament, I will apologise to her on behalf of the organisation then I will ask the chief architect to say sorry to Seema to restore her dignity and then I will warn him not to repeat the same in future.
Measures to prevent such incidents:
- Implement the SHE box idea in the office so that any woman can complain fearlessly.
- Taking strict action against such people to warn others.
- Ethical training of the employees.
- Arranging occasional get-together parties for the employees so that they can express themselves openly.
Thus, it can be said that there is a need to incorporate ethics at work culture in public offices to ensure the dignity of the individuals and maximum good to maximum numbers.
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