Slow Down: The Challenges of Ethics in the Workplace

Cristina Wildermuth HeadshotBy: Dr. Cristina Wildermuth

The Code of Ethics for the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) requires HR professionals to act ethically in every professional interaction.” (SHRM, 2014). Ethical decisions, however, may be trickier than we think. First, HR professionals are asked to be both fair and compassionate. Sometimes, these two critical demands clash. Second, HR professionals may feel closer to some employees than to others. Proximity tends to change the way we reason about ethical decisions. The presenter will share the results of a study involving more than 1,000 HR professionals, suggest implications of her findings, and offer recommendations.

Presentation Objectives:

  • Explain the meaning of a moral dilemma
  • Explain how reason and intuition may “clash” in the solution of an HR moral dilemma.
  • Define proximity and explain how closeness to others may be a “double edged sword” in the solution of ethical dilemmas
  • Propose possible solutions to reconcile the need for compassion and the need for fairness in HR decisions


About the Speaker:
Dr. Cris Wildermuth is an Associate Professor at Drake University, where she directs the Master of Science in Leadership Development, with concentrations in Leadership and Talent Development.  Dr. Wildermuth’s main research interests are ethics, personality, and employee engagement. She has had articles published in various peer reviewed publications and wrote a book on Diversity Training, published by the Association for Talent Development. A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Cris has traveled extensively and has conducted leadership development programs in various countries in Europe and Latin America. When relaxing from serious writing and teaching, Cris enjoys planning her next Disneyworld trip, practicing for her next karaoke session, and watching TV shows the rest of her family hates (and she won’t tell what these are). She lives in West des Moines with husband Mel, and daughter Maggie, a sophomore at Drake University who technically (but not really) moved to the Drake campus in her freshman year.

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