Ethical behavior dilemma of family business promotion


Case Scenario:

Jill Jones is a bright 45-year-old woman who is the vice-president of sales in a mid-sized family owned Candy Corporation. She began her career at the company right out of high school, and over the years earned two college degrees while working her way up the organizational ladder.

One day, Jill was stunned to learn that the firm's head, William Potter, was considering placing his oldest son, Henry, in the position of CEO while he became chairman of the board. Years earlier, when Jill was in a middle management position, Henry had unsuccessfully propositioned her and made her life miserable. She had never mentioned the incident to anyone and had put it behind her when he was promoted to head the Miami branch of the business. However, now as she looks at William Potter she becomes even more shocked to hear him say "I can't be objective about him Jill, You have always been so loyal to the company and successful in hiring excellent people for the sales force I want you to review him objectively and give me your recommendation." Conflicting thoughts rush through her mind, the awful past, the all-so-possible awful future with him as her boss, the clear knowledge that he has done a great job with the Miami branch, and of course the knowledge that he is the boss' son. What should she do?

"Jill" has just come up against one of the myriad ethical dilemmas companies of all sizes and their employees face on an ongoing basis. Deciding the best course of action might be easy in some cases, when there are clear-cut choices between "right" and "wrong." But there are many gray areas, like Jill's, when it's harder to know what the right choice is for you and your company.

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