The Ethical Dilemma for Leaders and How to Solve Them

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By Gemma Donnelly-Cox, Assistant Professor in Business

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“…the failure to take correct action can destroy firm value, diminish corporate reputation – and ruin lives.”


The session I’m chairing on the 26th of May concerns responsibilities business leaders face in identifying, managing and making decisions when confronted with ethical dilemmas.  As our colleagues in the Accommodation Shortage group have noted, problems such as ethical dilemmas present opportunities for acting in ways that can create value – but as our speakers will make clear, the failure to take correct action can destroy firm value, diminish corporate reputation – and ruin lives.


Dealing with ethical dilemmas requires business leaders to apply ethical values when making decisions about the conduct of individuals and the actions of the firm.  The actions of the firm encompass all elements of company conduct – from board governance, to HR and supplier policies, and in sales techniques and accounting practices.  As our panel will illustrate in their presentations, the application of ethical practices and standards is as much an issue for the startup entrepreneur as it for senior executives in multinational corporations.


So that brings us to our topic:  “The Ethical Dilemmas for Leaders and How to Solve Them.  Our panel will confront us with the cost of failures in decision-making when faced with ethical dilemmas – and the value that can be – and is – created when leaders handle these challenges and turn them into opportunities. They will present us with the range of resources that are available to leaders.


I will be joined by Mary Lawlor, Executive Director of Front Line, the International Foundation for Human Rights Defenders and Adjunct Professor of Business in TCD, Gráinne Madden, founder of and senior consultant in GMJ Associates, and Ken Rushton, formerly Company Secretary for ICI and Director of Listing for the Financial Services Authority and currently a Trustee of the Institute of Business Ethics and Senior Consultant for Board Insight Ltd.


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