S. Amir Kohan

Ethical Decision Making in Human Resources Field

Ethical decision-making principles are especially important for Human Resources professionals, who often face complex and sensitive issues that involve the rights and interests of various stakeholders, such as employees, managers, customers, suppliers, regulators and society. Human Resources professionals have a duty to uphold the highest standards of ethical conduct and to promote a culture of ethics within their organizations. Some of the ethical decision-making principles that can guide Human Resources professionals are:

– **Respect for autonomy**: This principle involves respecting the right of employees to make decisions for themselves and to act according to their values and beliefs, as long as they do not harm others or violate the law or organizational policies. This principle also implies respecting the privacy and confidentiality of employees, as well as their consent and preferences regarding their personal and professional information, benefits and career development.

– **Beneficence**: This principle involves doing good or promoting the well-being of employees, as well as other stakeholders who are affected by the Human Resources functions. This principle also implies avoiding harm or minimizing the risk of harm to employees and other stakeholders, as well as providing assistance or support when needed. For example, this principle may involve providing fair compensation and benefits, ensuring a safe and healthy work environment, offering learning and development opportunities, and addressing any grievances or complaints promptly and effectively.

– **Nonmaleficence**: This principle involves not doing harm or inflicting injury to employees or other stakeholders who are affected by the Human Resources functions. This principle also implies preventing harm or reducing the harm that may occur to employees and other stakeholders, as well as compensating for any harm that has been done. For example, this principle may involve avoiding discrimination, harassment, retaliation, exploitation, fraud or any other unethical or illegal practices that may harm employees or other stakeholders.
– **Justice**: This principle involves treating employees and other stakeholders fairly and equitably, according to their rights and merits. This principle also implies distributing benefits and burdens proportionally, as well as correcting any injustices or inequalities that may exist. For example, this principle may involve ensuring equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion in all Human Resources activities and decisions, such as recruitment, selection, performance appraisal, promotion, compensation and termination.

– **Fidelity**: This principle involves being faithful or loyal to employees and other stakeholders who are affected by the Human Resources functions, honoring one’s commitments and promises. This principle also implies being honest and trustworthy, as well as maintaining confidentiality and integrity. For example, this principle may involve keeping one’s word, fulfilling one’s obligations, protecting sensitive information, avoiding conflicts of interest and acting in the best interest of the organization.

– **Veracity**: This principle involves telling the truth or being truthful to employees and other stakeholders who are affected by the Human Resources functions. This principle also implies being accurate and reliable, as well as disclosing any relevant information or facts that may affect employees’ or other stakeholders’ decisions or actions. For example, this principle may involve providing honest feedback, reporting accurate data, admitting mistakes and informing employees or other stakeholders of any changes or issues that may affect them.
– **Accountability**: This principle involves being responsible or answerable for one’s actions and decisions regarding the Human Resources functions. This principle also implies being transparent and open, as well as accepting feedback and criticism. For example, this principle may involve documenting one’s rationale for making decisions, explaining one’s actions to employees or other stakeholders who are affected by them, taking responsibility for one’s mistakes and learning from them.

These are some of the ethical decision-making principles that can help Human Resources professionals to make moral choices and solve ethical dilemmas²³⁴. Of course, there may be other principles that are specific to the context or situation that they face. However, these principles provide a general framework for ethical decision-making that can help Human Resources professionals to act in a responsible and respectful way towards employees and other stakeholders.

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Source: Conversation with Bing, 5/5/2023
(1) 5.3 Ethical Principles and Responsible Decision-Making. https://openstax.org/books/principles-management/pages/5-3-ethical-principles-and-responsible-decision-making.
(2) Ethical Decision-Making and the HR Profession. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/pages/ethical-decision-making-and-the-hr-profession.aspx.
(3) Ethics in Human Resources: 6 Guidelines for HR Teams – Cornerstone OnDemand. https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/resources/article/ethics-human-resources-6-guidelines-hr-teams/.
(4) 9 Ethics in HRM (Human Resource Management) – Importance & Guidelines. https://bing.com/search?q=ethical+decision+making+principles+in+Human+Resources.
(5) Ethics and Human Resource Management – The Human Capital Hub. https://www.thehumancapitalhub.com/articles/Ethics-And-Human-Resource-Management.
(6) What Is the Role of Ethics in Human Resource Management?. https://www.smartcapitalmind.com/what-is-the-role-of-ethics-in-human-resource-management.htm.


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