Name a Time When You Faced an Ethical Dilemma and How You Dealt with It.

While I was working part-time, I saw a number of instances of ethical conflicts, but not being involved in the decision-making process meant I had little to do with them. But it’s not only in business that one encounters such dilemmas—they come up a lot on everyday life as well. In my senior year at college I took a course called Advertising Creativity and Marketing, for which we had to break into groups to do our term paper.

Each group had to make an advertisement to market their own product, and although my group had come up with a plan, it wasn’t exactly fully thought through; there were a number of flaws, and everyone involved was rushed trying to figure it all out. Then we learned that a couple of members of another team—we’ll call them Group A—wanted to switch teams because they weren’t getting on with their original group.

With the teacher’s permission, one of them joined our team, and put forward a new plan, one that Group A had originally come up with, and which wasn’t even this particular person’s idea to start with. We looked it over, thought it was a good plan, and since time was of the essence, everybody wondered whether we should just use it. If we did, Group A would undoubtedly not be happy, but if we didn’t, we’d probably get an F. Some people thought we should go with the plan, others were against it.

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My position was that we should just use our original plan, since even if we didn’t get great marks for it, we would have worked hard and been graded fairly for our own work rather than possibly earning a good grade, but on the back of essentially plagiarizing Group A’s work. And in this age when intellectual property is increasingly important, why would we not want to protect the rights of the originators of the plan? In the end, we went with the original plan, burned the midnight oil for a while, and ultimately came out with a simple, but creative advertisement which earned solid grades from the teacher.