Do employees think before they act? : Topic 4 Ethical Issues

In today’s world where 4.8 billion mobile users but only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush (Bullas, 2012), it’s not surprising that 75% of the internet population is hooked on social networks (Nayak, 2014). Social media has allowed formations of endless connections within people around the globe. Not to forget that one can share their thoughts freely but do people really think before they voice their opinions? I will be talking about the ethical issue of integrity risk raised by business use of social media.

Businesses are exposed to integrity risk when employees use social media in irresponsible ways, either on behalf of their company or through their personal accounts (The Ethical Challenges of Social Media, 2011) that may erode the company’s values, principles and ethics. There has been many of such cases like “#hasjustinelandedyet” where the PR executive Justine Sacco carelessly tweeted a joke about AIDS on Twitter and was fired because the company simply condemns such behavior. It reminds me of the case back in 2012, about Amy Cheong, the assistant director of National Trades of Congress (NTUC).

Just some background information about NTUC, it’s a caring labor movement that emphasizes on helping Singapore stay competent and enhancing well-being of workers.

Amy Cheong posted racist comments on her personal Facebook account about Malay weddings and even made derogatory remarks about Malays. This incident went viral overnight, especially since she holds a high post in the labor movement that every Singaporean is familiar with.

Screenshot of Amy Cheong’s Post

Her careless racist comments certainly violated NTUC’s ethics and image of caring for people. The above is a screenshot of her deleted post, a good example of how our digital footprint is permanent. Similar to Jastine Sacco, Amy Cheong was fired. Amy later apologized and mentioned, ” It is in no way a reflection of NTUC and the good works it has done and is doing for its members. It was my own bad judgement of which I truly regret.” NTUC’s secretary-general also later on mentioned in a media statement that NTUC has “zero tolerance towards any words used or actions taken by (its) staff that are racially offensive” which further emphasizes on NTUC’s moral principles. 

Such incidents are not common, hence businesses should tackle this challenge. Institute of Business Ethics has provided information about other ethical issues and tips to aid companies.They suggested social media policies at workplace, which I think should be compulsory to remind employees that they represent the company’s image. Everyone should be mindful of anything they post online be it for personal or work purposes. A mistake can lead to undesirable consequences, so think before you act.

Till then! 🙂


References

Bullas, J. (2012). 48 Significant Social Media Facts, Figures and Statistics – Plus 7 Infographics. [online] Jeffbullas’s Blog. Available at: http://www.jeffbullas.com/2012/04/23/48-significant-social-media-facts-figures-and-statistics-plus-7-infographics/ [Accessed 5 Dec. 2014].

Nayak, V. (2014). Social Network Penetration: 75% Of Internet Population Use Networking Sites/Apps!. [online] Dazeinfo. Available at: http://www.dazeinfo.com/2014/01/10/social-network-penetration-75-internet-population-uses-networking-sitesapps-facebook-inc-fb-qq-whatsapp-preferred-report/ [Accessed 5 Dec. 2014].

Tan, J. (2012). amy-cheong2-jpg_040225. [image] Available at: https://s1.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/KTIjHRTLtgqLlpd0KiDEpQ–/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Y2g9NDczO2NyPTE7Y3c9NjMwO2R4PTA7ZHk9MDtmaT11bGNyb3A7aD00NzI7cT03NTt3PTYyOQ–/http://l.yimg.com/os/249/2012/10/08/amy-cheong2-jpg_040225.jpg [Accessed 5 Dec. 2014].

Tan, J. (2014). NTUC fires Assistant Director for racist comments. [online] Yahoo News Singapore. Available at: https://sg.news.yahoo.com/ntuc-assistant-director-says-sorry-for-racist-post.html [Accessed 5 Dec. 2014].

The Ethical Challenges of Social Media. (2011). Business Ethics Briefing, [online] (22). Available at: http://www.ibe.org.uk/userassets/briefings/ibe_briefing_22_the_ethical_challenges_of_social_media.pdf [Accessed 5 Dec. 2014].

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One thought on “Do employees think before they act? : Topic 4 Ethical Issues

  1. Wow! 4.8 billion mobile users but only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush?! That is insane! Looks like technology is more important than basic hygiene! Also, from the examples you have given, I see that you mainly highlighted on how certain profession should act in social media in order not to tarnish their company’s ethics and values. The insensitive comment from Amy Cheong was really terrible! How can someone like Amy deserve such position in NTUC.

    Thanks for sharing the link about business ethics, now I understood more about the challenges of it! Since you mentioned business ethics and how they should be acting because it reflects badly on their company, does it mean they can’t be ‘themselves’ on social media?

    It was an interesting read, zoe! 🙂

    Like

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