What Is a Workplace Example Using Consequence Ethics?

Defining your professional ethics helps you choose an employer with compatible ethics.
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Consequence ethics involves judging the morality of an action or rule based on the goodness of its consequences. In this type of ethical system, the consequences of a decision matter so much they can't be ignored. You may not be used to considering the consequences of a decision as you make it, but you could work for an organization that requires this kind of decision-making in its ethical code or standards of conduct.


    An employer creates a set of ethical rules or standards of business conduct to standardize the behaviors of personnel. These rules or standards are reminders of what you should do instead of taking the easiest road to making money or advancing in your career. However, ethical rules do not ensure that your decisions will be right, especially because there's no way to make a one-rule-fits-every-situation guarantee.


    If in consequence ethics you should only care about the good that comes from an act, it seems as if unethical acts can be justified if they result in a good outcome. However, employers may have rules that leave no room for judgment on consequences for violations of the ethics code. An employer could have a rule that lying will not be tolerated and that people caught lying must be fired. If a manager was caught lying to get a cheaper price from a supplier, he would have to be fired, according to the zero tolerance policy for lying, regardless of the fact that his act would save his employer money.

Types of Decision-Making

    Another way to look at consequence ethics -- through the lens of act consequentialism -- is that every decision you make must be morally evaluated for whether it is ethically good. This sounds like a great system, but it is not practical. You don't have time to study the potential effects of every choice you make. If you were a doctor who had to research the potential effects of a drug before prescribing it every time, you could only prescribe a few drugs per week. Learn the kinds of consequential decision-making required by a job before you take it.

Specific Job Duties

    It sounds like a tall order to inquire after the kinds of decisions you must make in a job interview. You could ask for this information when an interviewer gives you an opening to ask questions, or you could bring it up. Another time could be when an interviewer asks you to review the job description and answer one or more questions on job duties. You could ask a future boss to provide real examples of required decision-making instead of general descriptions. This could be especially useful when interviewing for management positions or positions with policy-making authority. For example, you might ask an employer how much authority you have to hire and fire employees when your management salary is based on the performance of a sales team.

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