An apparel manufacturing company having a large number of women employees was losing sales due to various factors. The company hired a reputed marketing executive, who increased the volume of sales within a short span of time. However, some unconfirmed reports came up regarding his indulgence in sexual harassment at the workplace. After some time a woman employee launched a formal complaint to the management against the marketing executive about sexually harassing her. Faced with the companies’ indifference, in not taking cognizance of her grievances, she lodged an FIR with the police. Realizing the sensitivity and gravity of the situation, the company called the women employee to negotiate. In that, she was offered a hefty sum of money to withdraw the complaint and the FIR and also give in writing that the marketing executive is not involved in the case. Identify the ethical issues involved in this case. What options are available to the women employee? (20 marks)

Mentor’s comment:

  • The subject matter of the case study is the sexual harassment of women in the workplace. Here you need to identify the ethical issues involved and options available for the victim to get justice and how to prevent them in the future.
  •  Ethical dilemmas- Self-interests vs. Social interests Mean vs. Ends
  • Write down the issues involved and values at stake in the case.
  • Address all points of the case.
  • List down the options available along with merits and demerits and what is the course of action she should take.
  • Write the solutions, immediate and long term.
  • Also, address any backlash/side effects of your proposed actions and address them.

Answer:

Women often face sexual harassment at the workplace which results in many women even withdrawing from the labor force leading to loss of precious human capital. Post-MeToo movement these allegations have found a renewed voice and any organization must deal with such cases with sensitivity and fairness.

Facts of the case are

  • Alleged sexual harassment at the workplace by the marketing executive.
  • The marketing executive is an important resource for the company as he increased sales in a short period of time.
  • Company management’s indifference is not taking cognizance of the woman’s complaint.
  • Company pressurizing the woman employee to withdraw the case.

Ethical issues involved in the case are:

  • For Woman employee:
      • Handling mental agony and societal pressure in pursuing the case.
      • Loss of self-respect in negotiating with the company for monetary benefits.
  • Marketing executive:
      • Saving professional life by negotiating with the woman employee and proving innocence if not guilty.
  • Company management:
      • Insensitivity towards the dignity of a woman.
      • Priority to profit over organizational values by indulging in illegitimate negotiation with the woman employee.
  • Other employees
    • To continue working with the marketing executive against the moral conscience of other women employees.

Following options are available to the woman employee:

  • Continue with her case by taking a firm stand against the company management.
      • This would give her a fair chance to prove her viewpoint in a court of law and will give her mental peace that she stood for herself.
      • However, she will have to face mental agony and societal pressure in pursuing the case and may even prove detrimental for her career prospects.
  • Accept the negotiation offer by the company and withdraw the case.
      • This may be beneficial for her career and will save her from the rigorous investigation process.
      • However, this would create dissonance and affect mental peace as her conscience would not allow her to accept monetary gains over self-respect. Also, she would never be able to stand for herself in the future.
  • Resign from the company and focus on other career opportunities.
    • This will let her avoid the situation and will be beneficial for her career prospects.
    • However, the scars of sexual harassment will remain with her throughout her life and she will regret that she herself is responsible for the denial of justice to her.

The correct course of action

  • Option(1) seems to be the correct way of handling the situation. The women employee can play a leadership role. Her actions will give voice to other genuine concerns of women employees. It is her moral responsibility to come forward and show exemplary behavior. This will not only bring self-satisfaction to her but also increase her confidence and inner strength.
  • Also, there is a major fault of company management in giving priority to profit motives by saving the marketing executive and not forming the internal complaints committee as mandated by the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. 

Gandhiji considered ‘commerce without morality’ as one of the seven social sins. Thus, it is not only an individual’s fault, but an organization’s which lack values such as respect for the dignity of woman, work-culture ethics, and gender equality.

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Vishal Agrawal
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Er S
Admin

Missing stakeholders.
Cases properly put up. But rich discussion missing
Refer the answer and comments below.
6/20

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NJ89
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Er S
Admin

Good Attempt.
The stakeholders’ chart is spot on.
When asked for ethical issues, try to list the dilemmas first in the form of a vs b.
Will make your answer more impactful.
Some important points like an inherent bias towards the male employee. There is no reason why he is not replaceable. Short term profits shouldn’t be the reason to compromise lasting values.
Weak conclusion.

10/20

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Chester
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Chester
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@ers Sir kindly review