First and foremost, I would ask Tom to review the company’s policy about its treatment to employees. It is a company’s obligation to treat its employees with respect and courtesy. When Sara applied for the transfer, it should have been the company’s obligation to inform her what she is up against. It should have been made clear to her the cultural norms of the host country and that the company is following these norms which differs from the company’s standard policy. On Sara’s part however, she should have understood the norms and culture of Latin American countries.
In her trips to Mexico City, she already observed that the men treated her more as a woman than as a representative of her company. She thought that since most of the decision on the work she did was handled by their bank’s male representative, she would not encounter any problem. If she had thought that, then she shouldn’t have applied for the transfer. She acted ethically by bringing up her issues with Vitam but when she got nowhere with him, she acted unethically by going to someone higher in position without telling Vitam.
She did not show Vitam the respect he is entitled to as head of the branch office by bypassing him and going straight to someone higher in position. She also got upset about the dress code policy in the branch office by saying the dress code is not standard business practice but who’s to say it is not. It may not be standard business practice in the office where she came from but it is in the Mexico City branch. She wanted to impose a standard practice elsewhere and replace the ones followed by another. Vitam on the other hand has the moral responsibility as the head of the branch to be up front with Sara.
I do not think he would want to be put in Sara’s shoes if it were to happen to him. He should have prioritized ethical standards first. While it is true that all companies’ objective is to earn money, people come first. A company’s employees are part of their investment and should be treated like any other investment, with utmost care and protection. Maybe if Vitam had treated Sara as an equal, the bank’s clients would have followed suit. Remember the “Golden Rule”. Vitam should have led an example by treating Sara the respect accorded to her instead of demeaning her.
Maybe, their clients felt that Vitam, who is Manager of the bank do not have any high regard for Sara, they do not see any reason why they should do differently. The company has violated an international moral code by its failure to be transparent to Sara and protect her as a valued employee. Whether company made the correct decision or not by opting to follow the norms of the host country is not the issue. What the company should have done is to inform Sara of the policy being followed in the host country, which was not clearly done. Tom should review and evaluate the company’s overall policy.
Clearly, the company should institute changes that compel the bank to disclose the cultural policies in its overseas branches. This way, the employee applying for the post would know what he is up against. If the company had been transparent in handling Sara’s application, she would be in a better position to judge if she should pursue her application or not. The company owes Sara an apology in its mishandling of the situation and its failure to be transparent. The company should also consider changing the current performance evaluation of Sara and allow her to transfer to another post, this time ensuring full transparency.
The company can re-evaluate her performance again under different circumstances. Before her transfer, Sara was a very promising employee and her performance is above par. The revaluation and eventual change of the company’s policy should help ensure that situations similar to what happened to Sara can be avoided.
References International Business Ethics Institute. (2002, October 01). Creating an International Standard for Business Conduct. Retrieved December 12, 2007, from http://www. business-ethics. org/newsdetail. asp? newsid=15 Donaldson, T. (Ed). (1982). Corporations and Morality. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
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