Business Ethics and Communication During Emergencies Communications Essay

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Business Ethics and Communication During Emergencies

Communications Directed at Different Audience Members and Stakeholders

Anytime a serious incident threatens the lives of employees, the organization must carefully consider how to communicate information to various audiences and stakeholders (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2010). In doing so, it must balance the interests of the general public and news services against the interests and sensibilities of those who may be affected emotionally by the release of information or the characterization of the situation. On one hand, there is an obligation to the news services and to the general public to provide factual information; on the other hand, the release of certain information could be potentially harmful to family members and other individuals in the lives of the workers affected directly. The last thing that the organization would want to do in these types of situations would be to release information publicly that adds unnecessarily to the emotional anguish of loved ones worried about the fate of their family members.

In fact, the Chilean mining incident provides a perfect illustration of why it is so important to be judicious in the release and characterization of information based on incomplete facts or on speculation. Immediately after the accident, it did not appear that there was a high likelihood that any of the miners, let alone all of them, had survived the initial mine collapse. An organization that publicly discloses such dire conclusions before they are confirmed stands the risk of compounding the tragedy by causing emotional trauma to loved ones. In the worst case scenario, such information could even cause the death of family members, such as in the case of elderly individuals who may already be suffering from medical conditions that predispose them to an extreme reaction.

Considering the Potential Needs of Company Employees

Meanwhile, it might be much more appropriate to communicate more straightforwardly with coworkers. Those who share the everyday risks because they work in the same environment are better conditioned to receive even pessimistic information. More importantly, because they understand the nature of the environment and circumstances much better than lay members of the general public, they are more likely to see through overly optimistic reports. If they feel patronized or deceived by the organization, that could add to their level of stress and cause them to resent the organization more than they might if they believed they were being informed honestly about their coworkers. Ideally, the organization would stress the importance of exercising discretion about allowing any pessimistic information to spread beyond those in the immediate work environment. Because they share a natural concern for the families of their coworkers, they can be expected to respond appropriately and they should be given the opportunity to know more information than might be appropriate for full public disclosure.

Considering the Potential Needs of…

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