Our society has evolved tremendously in the last 20 years. Not just technologically, but in most parts of the world corporations have developed highly inclusive strategies inside the workplace. This means people of different ages, nationalities, religions, sexual orientations, socioeconomic statuses are welcome to work in the same common environment. However, different issues might arise because not everybody is aware of all the other social practices that exist beside one’s own culture. And this is just one possible cause of an ethical dilemma in the workforce. So if you want to learn more about this subject, and more specifically, if you want to find out how to resolve ethical dilemma at workplace, stick around.


Some other hot issues which may cause anxiety and even ethical dilemmas in the workplace are the downsizing of personnel, the allocation and use of scarce resources, product quality and safety, the efficient management of the level of pollution and the equitable disposal of toxic waste, the rights of the employees, the changes in law and the developments in technology and different types of discrimination.  Two or more of these factors if they were to overlap would produce an ethical dilemma. Of course there are many other possible reasons, these were just some frequent examples. But how do you solve the ethical dilemma and produce a solution which would be a suitable for all parties involved?


1. Figure out if the decision you are facing requires an ethical solution. Not every problem which you will have to face in the workplace will pose a difficult question for you. In order to establish whether or not you are facing a special situation you have to identify a conflict of interests. If a conflict exists, you have to determine who are the parties involved and what are the discrepancies in their requirements. The conflict could affect your own values and your decision making skills or it could come as a threat to the values of the company you represent. If that is the case, then you need to act.

2. Clearly state your cornerstone values. In order to successfully resolve an ethical dilemma at workplace, you must know your own ethic code. As a person, you must have a set of values you always respect. Well, the company you work for has a set of values which uniquely defines it. If it’s a delivery company, it may be rapidity and punctuality. You should also bear in mind that when you speak in the name of your company, you represent it and its values first and foremost, they automatically supersede your personal ones.  

3. Ensure basic training seminars for you and your team. Lately, all the major companies are trying to educate their employees in communication and negotiation areas so that they will respond appropriately if a situation occurs where they would have to use firm diplomacy. All sorts of communication techniques have become increasingly popular and these courses will probably become mandatory for every employee to have as part of his or her personal development portfolio. Some classes are specialized in ethical decision-making or active listening; others will teach individuals how to interpret correctly signs of verbal and nonverbal communication. As a starting point, these are very useful.

 4. Try to project all the probable consequences of your decisions and actions. This isn’t an easy task, but it’s a vital part of knowing how to resolve ethical dilemma at workplace. It’s a more pre-emptive method than a solving one, but it’s better to prevent than to have to cure anyway. That’s why here you have to analyze all the factors and the people involved and try to be ahead of everybody. For example, if you have to let go of 10% from your total amount of employees, make sure that you establish a criteria for firing these employees so that they will understand the reason for their termination and not press charges of discrimination.

5. Form an ethical committee or an ethical hotline. This would be a special service inside the company available for employees only. They would have the option of consulting a specialist in case of an ethical dilemma. An ethical committee could schedule meetings in which they would offer examples of such difficult situations and their ultimate solutions. Role playing activities could also serve well to this purpose.

6. A risk evaluation is mandatory. You have to put things in perspective and try to assess all the actual risks involved when dealing with an ethical dilemma at work.

7. Acquire more evolved skills. These strategies would be a natural continuance to those mentioned earlier, at point number 3. After that preliminary process, you and your employees should become familiarized with reasoning techniques, critical thinking and conflict resolution strategies. These latest self improvement devices will help your company more than you can predict in the long run.


In conclusion, what we have learned is that an ethical dilemma at workplace can have a number of different meanings. And what we know from experience is that both as an employee and as an employer you have to be prepared for tricky or unpleasant situations. That’s why you have to turn your team into a team of problem-solvers, who will think quickly on their feet and bring great results.

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