The aim of ethicsinpractice is to merge academic knowledge about ethics with practical experience from businesses dealing with ethical dilemmas and operating in so called 'grey zones'.
The site contains information on ethics that can provide you with a more reflected understanding of basic ethics and can assist in making informed and transparent decisions when faced with ethical dilemmas.
The tools Ethics Dilemma & Ethics Decision-Making are generic in nature and applicable within business training, academic teaching, inter-governmental institutions and organisations worldwide. They are accessible on-line and can be used free of charge. The tools have been tested by a global advisory board, students and employees from the partnership organisations.
Ethicsinpractice has been developed in a public-private partnership between University of Copenhagen, Novo Nordisk and KPMG.
An introduction to ethics
This book, titled The Good, the Right and the Fair - an introduction to ethics, is a comprehensive yet easily accessible introduction to the basic issues in normative ethics and one of its important applications, namely political philosophy.
The target audience is undergraduate students without any formal training in academic philosophy and others interested in the subject matter, but without any specific qualification in the area.
The main part of the book is organized in three parts:
- Examination of the good or valuable (theory of value or the good, etc.)
- Discussion of right action (moral theories proper) and just distribution (theories of justice)
- Key questions concerning political institutions (political philosophy)
It is the hope that teachers and individual students will enjoy reading and using this book.
The Ethics Dilemma Tool is an interactive learning tool presenting five ethical standpoints.
The user will learn about his or her own ethical standpoint and experience how standpoints influence decisions.
The Ethics Dilemma Tool can:
- Enhance understanding of the users ethical standpoint, which might even change depending on the dilemma in question
- Provide an understanding that others might have other ethical points of view which cannot be written off as unreasonable
- Illuminate that ethical standpoints are a decisive factor in decision-making
The Ethics Decision-Making Tool is designed to assist in making ethically sound decisions in grey zones. It includes an innovative checklist and helps the user systematically analyse a dilemma and weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.
The Ethics Decision-Making Tool can:
- Increase knowledge and understanding of ethical dilemmas, in particular how it is applied to the day-to-day operations of your business
- Assist you in understanding real life business cases
- Enhance the skills of ethics decision-making, by providing different dilemmas in a game setting, where the user is asked to analyse the situation and to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision and by presenting the consequences of decisions made at the end of the game
- Facilitate documentation of the decision-making process by the identification of the pros and cons and by bringing awareness to the weighing process.
Please find a Checklist for weighting pros and cons when using the Ethics Decision-Making Tool.
Facilitator Guide - how to use the tools
The e-learning tools Ethics Dilemma and Ethics Decision-Making have been developed in a public-private partnership. The project was sponsored by the University of Copenhagen and Novo Nordisk. Henk Ten Have, Director of Bioethics, UNESCO, LRN, KPMG and a global advisory board have contributed to the development of the tools.
This project has been driven by the desire to merge academic knowledge about ethics with practical experience from businesses dealing with ethical dilemmas and operating in so called 'grey zones'.
The aim of the tools is to provide users with a more reflected understanding of basic ethics and to assist in making informed and transparent decisions when faced with ethical dilemmas. The tools are generic in nature and applicable within business training, academic teaching, inter-governmental institutions and organisations worldwide.
They are accessible online and can be used free of charge.
A global advisory board, students and employees from the partnership organisations have tested the tools.
When faced with ethical dilemmas we strive to make sound decisions and find the right balance. In a true dilemma there is no obvious right or wrong and often there will be uncertainty about some factual issues. The different alternatives might not be clear, and we can be unsure about the consequences of the decision - e.g. for ourselves, parties directly affected and for society at large. Still, decisions have to be made.
In the process of making decisions a broad array of parameters must be considered by the decision-maker(s) in order to demonstrate due diligence. This is reflected in the Checklist in the Ethics Decision-Making Tool.
To further enhance the ethical robustness of a decision, the decision-maker(s) must demonstrate ethical engagement by considering different possible ethical standpoints as well as clarify her or his own standpoint. This is reflected in the Ethics Dilemma Tool.
The tools can be used by one person or a group to assist in the decision-making process. The tools provide hands-on experience in the training programmes and can improve the individuals judgement, ability to articulate ethics and to act ethically sound. Furthermore, the knowledge and insight gained from using the tools can provide the user with valuable information, which will enhance the possibility of a fruitful outcome of stakeholder engagement.
The tools can be used separately, but complement each other.
While the Ethics Decision-Making Tool will train the users skills in analysing a dilemma and consider the consequences of a given decision, the Ethics Dilemma Tool will provide the user with additional important insights in underlying ethical principles.
The two tools can:
Enhance general knowledge about ethics and ethics decision-making
Provide frameworks for thorough analyses of dilemmas
Illuminate the broad array of issues to be considered and the complexity of ethics decision-making
Improve identification of key stakeholders
Ethics Decision-Making can:
Increase knowledge and understanding of ethical dilemmas, in particular how it is applied to the day-to-day operations of businesses
Enhance ethics decision-making skills, by providing different dilemmas in a game setting, where the user is asked to analyse the situation and to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision and by presenting the consequences of decisions made at the end of the game
Facilitate documentation of the decision-making process by the identification of the pros and cons and by bringing awareness to the weighing process
Ethics Dilemma can:
Enhance understanding of the users ethical standpoint, which might even change depending on the dilemma in question
Provide an understanding that others
might have other ethical points of view which cannot be written off as unreasonable
Illuminate that ethical standpoints are a decisive factor in decision-making
Ethics Dilemma Tool
Ethics Dilemma is an interactive learning tool that presents the most fundamental ethical concepts and principles. It includes a personal test, where the user will get his or her personal 'ethical profile'. The user will experience how ethical choices reflect underlying ethical points of view.
The aim of the tool is to present different basic ethical standpoints to the user thereby creating a sense of his or her own point of view and an appreciation of others standpoints. Also it will enable the user to understand how these standpoints influence the choices people make when faced with ethical dilemmas. The tool can enhance mutual understanding and appreciation, and inspire to fruitful stakeholder engagement and dialogue.
Initially the user will be presented to a quiz the answer to the 12 questions will determine the users ethical profile. Afterwards the user can engage in one or several in-depth role plays, and see how his or her original ethical profile may change when being confronted with different ethical dilemmas. The intention is not to find the right answer rather, the aim is to stimulate the users reflection on his or her moral point of view as well as that of others.
This tool will provide knowledge of the existence of multiple ethical standpoints. The user will experience that these points of view can lead to different decisions when faced with specific ethical dilemmas. By experiencing several dilemmas, the user might also find that his or her preferred ethical standpoint changes depending on the dilemma in question.
Ethics Decision-Making Tool
The Ethics Decision-Making Tool is about improving decision-making skills when faced with a dilemma. Sometimes you will have to make decisions where there is no clear right or wrong. You might not know all the facts or interrelated factors, and be unsecure about the alternatives. You find yourself in a grey zone and the unintended consequences of your action could be severe.
Companies are obliged to conduct their business in compliance with the letter and spirit of all laws and regulations governing their activities. Laws and regulations are very complex, often balancing a variety of different considerations and involving many business practices.
Since these regulatory procedures cannot cover all possible circumstances, companies sometimes need to make decisions in grey zones. It is required and expected that employees in every case of doubt, or if the employee has any questions as to whether a particular course of action is appropriate or not, consult colleagues or managers. Grey zone activities can end up damaging the reputation and public image of an employee and a company.
To be able to make the right decision and find the right balance, employees must also understand the companys values and know how to apply them.
The Ethics Decision-Making Tool is designed to assist in making ethically sound decisions in grey zones. It provides a simple, innovative Checklist, which will help the user confronted with an ethical dilemma to systematically analyse a dilemma and weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. It will also make it easier for the user to make transparent and documented decisions.
In the first part, the user will be introduced to the Checklist and shown how to use the list to identify pros and cons with regards to a specific ethical decision.
The second part of the tool sets the scene for a 'try it yourself' board game. You are introduced to a corporate environment, which slowly changes its ethical profile through a chain of bad decisions.
The third part of this tool is a board game where the player will train his or her decision-making skills, by playing different characters related to the introduced corporate environment. The player will be challenged to use the Checklist when several ethical dilemmas in the grey zone are presented.To broaden the understanding and complexity further, the user will be informed about the consequences of a decision and asked a few questions after a decision is made to inspire additional reflection of the situation.
In 'grey zones' we might agree on the pros and cons, but the weighing is a personal judgement, which must be conscious and argued for. Therefore a checklist is a good tool to help you in decision making - but it can never guarantee a correct answer to a dilemma.
The tool comes with full audio (English).
Anyone, in any organisation or educational setting can use the tools, e.g. if you want to:
Make a decision
Discuss and elaborate on a specific dilemma, by analysing which ethical standpoint the different options expressed and afterwards weighing the pros and the cons
Follow a consistent procedure of documentation when taking important decisions
Create a culture of reflection and enhance understanding of CSR and stakeholder engagement
Bring life to a policy, a strategy etc.
In companies the e-tools would be appropriate for management training, whereas the complexity and the time required would not make the e-tools suitable for large scale roll-out among line employees. Using the e-tools in a facilitated setting would fit perfectly into for example Business Ethics training activities of a company for a number of reasons:
The company should ensure that there are regular face-to-face business ethics training activities. Experience shows that while e-learning is good for documentation purposes, face-to-face time is necessary to bring about change
The company should be aiming beyond compliance training to foresee and mitigate risks. Just adhering to the law will not prevent ethical issues from arising
The company will demonstrate leadership within CSR. This is a best practice step
The company can promote a culture where an open discussion with colleagues and managers is natural. Experience shows that this is not always the case. If the e-tools are used in a controlled process, managers across the company will get not only training in balancing ethical issues, but also a toolkit, and a common language which will enable open discussion
The company can emphasize and clarify the link between company core values and day-to-day decision making and behaviour. The setting outlined in the Facilitator Guide provides more clarity on this link, and offers an opportunity to customise contents for different audiences by picking appropriate dilemmas or cases
In a setting where resources may be scarce and costs restrained, the e-tools provide an excellent, tested training opportunity at no further development costs. If travel and manpower is an issue, it is often a good idea to make a realistic roll-out plan training a handful of facilitators and to aim at management teams where travel is already planned, or where there is no travel cost
No prior knowledge of the tools is required, however, you might want to familiarise yourself with company policies etc. prior to using the tools.
Below is an example of how to use the tools in a group for a teambuilding or awareness exercise. This exercise can easily be expanded to leverage internal governance documents such as standard operating procedures. This can be done by producing customised ethics dilemmas relevant for the specific governance document. In a group setting the participants will then have to consult the governance document in the process of using the checklist as well as referring to it in the argumentation for a decision.
There are many other possible ways to use the tools - your imagination is the limit!
Example: Group session, facilitator + 5-20 participants
Prior to the meeting:
Facilitator identifies approx. 5-20 people for the group
Facilitator sends links to the two tools to participants and asks them to:
Try Ethics Dilemma and print/pdf the personal profile
Try Ethics Decision-Making
Provide an example of a dilemma: Make a short description of either a past, present or future dilemma. Make one suitable question, which can be answered yes, or no. (Alternatively the facilitator can prepare one or more dilemmas)
Participants send dilemma and profile to the facilitator prior to the meeting
Participants are asked to keep their profile secret to other participants
Facilitator selects and prepare a dilemma for each group (Alternatively the same dilemma for more than one group)
Facilitator makes groups (4-5 persons) based on each participants personal profile. The participants can be divided into three different groups with e.g.:
Different ethics profile
The same profile
Two different types of profiles.
The facilitator provides the group(s) with a dilemma
The group answers the nine questions from the Checklist and decides if the answer weighs for or against a given solution
The group performs a weighing of all the pros and cons and makes a decision.
Hands out a pool coupon Guess your group members ethical profile. The group members answer in silence and give the answer to the facilitator
All groups present their dilemma, the argumentation for the placement in pros and cons and the weighing process
The class provides feedback after each group presentation
Inform the class how the groups were made
Invite the participants for any feedback on this info
Was it easy to make decisions together?
Where there many discussion, or few?
Did they experience that the ethical profile influenced the decision-making?
Facilitator announces the winners of Guess your group members ethical profile
Your role as the facilitator
You will act as the session facilitator. This means that you will assist your employees or students in their progress towards understanding how to consider and rationalise ethical dilemmas.
You will not have to give a lecture, and you do not have to be an expert in the tools.
Your role is to ensure:
The session is run fully and correctly
The appropriate attention is given to the tools
Debates are created and managed
Please remember that if you need advice or have questions, you are always welcome to contact the tool developers at Novo Nordisk or University of Copenhagen.