When Offsite Behavior Clashes with Company Values

By Frazee, Valerie | Workforce, May 1997 | Go to article overview

When Offsite Behavior Clashes with Company Values


Frazee, Valerie, Workforce


In today's complicated world, ethical decisions aren't always black or white; options often fall into gray areas. Readers responded to this situation posed by WORKFORCE.

The Dilemma:

Dan is a vice president who has been heralded as a champion of diversity awareness. But you've been told he doesn't carry this sensitive attitude into his personal life. Should you confront Dan about his public image? Or should you let it go assuming the report is untrue-or even if it's true, dismiss it since he never has acted inappropriately on the job?

Readers Respond:

I would never confront an employee with an unsubstantiated claim, let alone a vice president. If the claim is true, however, then I would absolutely confront him. If you don't "walk the talk," then you have no credibility-especially in an area as sensitive as workforce diversity. Eventually, Dan's behavior will catch up with him and worse yet, his company.

Eric Burfeind

Manager HRIS and Payroll Owens & Minor Inc. Glen Allen, Virginia

There needs to be a line drawn between the workplace and the private lives of employees. Neither corporations nor government agencies should play Big Brother and legislate whom employees should socialize with outside work.

As long as Dan practices and preaches diversity in the workplace and is sensitive to diversity in handling work issues, problems and policies, then I see no need to discuss with Dan his private life and social interactions. Many individuals choose to live in neighborhoods that reflect their own political and religious beliefs, worship with others similar to them, select friends from groups who share interests and plan their social activities with relatives and people from their communities and schools.

Sherry Ann Kavaler Director of Personnel Fire Department of New York City New York, New York

Having been told something doesn't make it necessarily so. Talk to Dan. Let him know what's being said and see if this is a perception problem rather than one of cognitive dissonance. Don't see this as a disciplinary issue so much as one of fairness to Dan and the company.

Philip R. Fenimore Labor Relations Administrator Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) Dover, Delaware

First it's critical to obtain the facts. The only person who has the facts is Dan. Therefore, his supervisor must sit down and discuss what he or she has heard and ascertain if it's valid. I suggest taking the following steps. …

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