Ethical dilemmas: How do I distinguish right from wrong – and act accordingly? Advice from the experts

Written by Beth Gault. Additional reporting by CMI Insights Friday 12 January 2024
All managers will face ethical dilemmas in their work. Here, three managers share how to navigate those grey areas and make sure their organisation is doing the right thing…
Image: sommart sombutwanitkul

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Business decisions are rarely black and white. Take that new data analysis tool, offering unprecedented understanding of your customers. What’s the cost to their privacy and peace of mind? Or that building proposal that promises huge profits; how much is it going to harm the local environment and wildlife?

Managers and leaders face ethical dilemmas all the time, and it’s important to handle them sensitively. Acting in a way that’s deemed to be morally means includes aspects such as leading with integrity, championing inclusivity and committing to sustainability, according to CMI’s Professional Standard.

But ethical quandaries are rarely solved by following regulations or guidelines, they can involve tough choices for managers, who have to weigh up all the potential consequences for the organisation and its stakeholders – and judge them against their own moral compass.

The good news is that every such choice is a chance to show your commitment to doing the right thing, even when it’s difficult. 

We spoke to three managers about ethical dilemmas they’ve faced in the workplace. They shared how, by being bold, open and systematic in their approach, they helped their organisations steer the right course.   

Want to learn how three Chartered Managers successfully navigated ethical dilemmas?


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