Research Report

Ethical decision-making: eight perspectives on workplace dilemmas

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Ethical decision-making: eight perspectives on workplace dilemmas

Published August 2015

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The world of work is evolving fast and is growing more diverse. There’s no ‘golden rule’ or ‘best practice’ that enables HR professionals to operate effectively in this rapidly changing environment. Practitioners’ ability to recognise and resolve ethical dilemmas is fundamental to remaining effective when exercising professional judgement. This review is focused on helping practitioners navigate their choices about designing and implementing HR systems and practices. It identifies eight lenses which offer different perspectives on work dilemmas.

The review will feed into our Profession for the Future strategy and help us develop a clearer definition of what better work and working lives means.

"Understanding the different ethical perspectives, and demonstrating sensitivity to the ones
that matter in a particular organisational context at a particular time, will be a core skill for
the HR professional of the future – one that the CIPD is committed to continue developing."

Content of the report

Executive summary

  1. The Fairness Lens
  2. The Merit Lens
  3. The Markets Lens
  4. The Democracy Lens
  5. The Well-being Lens
  6. The Rights and Duties Lens
  7. The Character Lens
  8. The Handing Down Lens



Profession for the Future

... is the CIPD’s strategy to ensure we continue to fulfil our purpose as the world of work evolves.


A year of change and continued progress for the HR profession

"This year has been a remarkable one – politically, culturally and economically."


Are business ethics HR’s business?

"HR practitioners can ask questions, help recognise the possible choices and build a decision-making framework for putting all the possible stakeholders in the picture."