1. You have just been appointed as Additional Director General of the Central Public Works Department. The Chief Architect of your division, who is to retire in six months, is passionately working on a very important project, the successful completion of which would earn him a lasting reputation for the rest of his life.A new lady architect. Seema, trained at Manchester School of Architecture, UK joined as Senior Architect in your division. During the briefing about the project, Seema made some suggestions which would not only add value to the project, but would also reduce completion time. This has made the Chief Architect insecure and he is constantly worried that all the credit will go to her. Subsequently, he adopted a passive and aggressive behavior towards her and has become disrespectful to her. Seema felt it embarrassing as the Chief Architect left no chance of humiliating her. He would very often correct her in front of other colleagues and raise his voice while speaking to her. This continuous harassment has resulted in her losing confidence and self-esteem. She felt perpetually tense, anxious and stressed. She appeared to be in awe of him since he has had a long tenure in the office and has vast experience in the area of her work.You are aware of her outstanding academic credentials and career in her previous organizations. However, you fear that this harassment may result in compromising her much needed contribution in this important project and may adversely impact her emotional well-being. You have also come to know from her peers that she is contemplating tendering her resignation.
(a) What are the ethical issues involved in the above case?
(b) What are the options available to you in order to complete the project and to retain Seema in the organization?
(c) What would be your response to Seema’s predicament? What measures would you institute to prevent each occurrence from happening in your organization? (20)
- The case study involves two capable architects who want to work for the betterment of the department but have their own ways and methods. The ends are same but means have variation which has led to tussle.
(a) The ethical issues involved in the above case include-
- Workplace harassment of Seema by the Chief Architect creates a hostile work environment.
- Undermining credit, professional jealousy and credit appropriation by Chief Architect.
- Loss of confidence and self-esteem by Seema.
- Inequality and gender discrimination.
- Abuse of power and seniority by Chief Architect.
- Weak organizational culture which allows such behavior to persist without intervention.
(b) Options available which can ensure completion of the project and retention of Seema include-
- Mediation: Arrange for a mediation session between Seema and the Chief Architect, facilitated by a neutral third party, to address their differences and foster a more positive working relationship.
- Conflict Resolution Training: Provide conflict resolution training for both Seema and the Chief Architect to improve their communication and interpersonal skills.
- Support for Seema: Offer emotional and psychological support to Seema through counseling or mentorship to help her regain her confidence and cope with workplace stress.
- Accountability: Hold the Chief Architect accountable for his behavior through a disciplinary process, emphasizing the organization's commitment to a harassment-free workplace.
- Transparency and Recognition: Ensure that Seema receives recognition for her contributions to the project, both internally and externally, to counteract any attempts to undermine her work.
- Preventing Future Incidents: Implement a comprehensive anti-harassment policy and training program, with clear consequences for violations, to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.
(c) The response to Seema’s predicament and preventive measures for future will include-
- Immediate action: Address Seema's situation by offering counseling, support, and a safe space to express her concerns, emphasizing the organization's commitment to her well-being.
- Mediation and conflict resolution: Initiate a mediation process between Seema and the Chief Architect to resolve their differences and ensure a respectful working environment.
- Mentorship: Assign a senior mentor to Seema to provide guidance, boost her confidence, and help her navigate workplace challenges.
- Anti-Harassment policy: Establish a clear anti-harassment policy that outlines expected behavior, reporting mechanisms, and consequences for violations. Ensure all employees receive training on this policy.
- Regular feedback: Encourage open communication and regular feedback sessions between employees and supervisors to address any concerns or conflicts early on.
- Performance evaluation: Ensure that performance evaluations and promotions are based on merit and contributions rather than favoritism or seniority.
- Transparency: Maintain transparency in project contributions and recognition to prevent credit appropriation and jealousy among colleagues.
- By taking these actions, I would strive to create a respectful, inclusive, and supportive work environment that values every employee's contributions and well-being, preventing future occurrences of such issues in the organization.