BSB111 – Ethics Case Study

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BSB111 – Ethics Case Study

Case 1: Was Google wrong?

(a) Explain how the issues raised in this media report reflect descriptive and normative
approaches to understanding ethics.
The issue raised in this report is about Google’s decision to fire an employee who wrote a
memo about women not having the same ability as men. Those who support the decision to sack
the employee argue that what he wrote is morally wrong, while those opposing his sacking argue
that Google could not withstand criticism for its diversity policies. Normative ethics is concerned
with how people ought to act based on intrinsic value, right or wrong, or the virtues they hold
(Shaw & Barry, 2015). For example, those supporting his sacking argue that it was right for
Google to sack the employee because what he wrote was inappropriate and demeaning to
women. Given that Google had to project a diversity image, the employee was seen as a threat to
its diversity policy and had to be sacked. On the other hand, descriptive ethics concerns with
what occurs or what motivate people to act in a certain way (Bazerman & Tenbrunsel, 2011). For
example, those against sacking claims that Google sacked him because it was under social
pressure to act on the employee. It was the best decision for Google to take because it had to
project its image of diversity and to satisfy the public that it stands for diversity.

Category:

Description

Case 1: Was Google wrong?

Adapted from “Was Google wrong to fire James Damore after memo controversy?”, BBC News, August 9,
2017 (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-40865261)

Google has fired an employee who wrote a controversial memo opposed to diversity programmes and
hiring practices. The company's chief executive said the “offensive” text advanced “harmful gender
stereotypes”. Did Google do the right thing?
First things first: What did the memo say?
A senior Google employee, James Damore, argued in an internal memo that perhaps tech companies that
try diversity programmes to get more women into the industry are looking at things the wrong way. It's
not just because of recruitment practices or education or discrimination that more men than women work
in the tech industry, he argued, but because of biological differences. BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.
Women are “on average more interested in people” as opposed to things, he said, “more co-operative”
and “more prone to anxiety” – all things that stop them going in to the tech industry or rising to the top of
it. And he said this couldn't usually be said by people who worked for Google, because of an “ideological
echo chamber” and a “shaming culture and the possibility of being fired”. BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.
After the memo received a few days of international attention, Mr Damore was fired. He is reported to be
considering legal action. The memo and now his sacking have been much discussed on social media, with
some agreeing with him, some offering him jobs, and others aghast at his views. BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.
Google was wrong to fire him, say some
“I think it's wrong for a company to fire someone for simply expressing their opinion,” said Jodie Ginsberg
of the Index on Censorship pressure group. Asked whether Mr Damore being fired was censorship, she
said yes. “Yes, in that the message it's sending is that people are not free to express their beliefs and
opinions. The message is we should just shut down the views with which we disagree … A much better
way is to discuss those opinions openly.” BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.
Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico, said Google had gone down
in his estimation when it fired Mr Damore. “It was reasonable of this author to expect that his argument
would be respected, that he would be able to air it with some safety,” he said. “It's just embarrassing for
Google,” he continued. “I used to think Google was one of the coolest companies on earth. I use a lot of
their software of all kinds and now I just feel like I'm supporting this ideological juggernaut … If the
reaction to being told that you are an ideological echo chamber is that kind of defensiveness, to me it's
pretty strong evidence that it probably is biased.” BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.
Google was right to fire him, say others
On the other hand, says technology writer and broadcaster Kate Bevan, the memo created a hostile
environment for female staff. “I'm not very keen on the mob going for people to get the sack,” she said.
“But in this case he was acting in a way that was detrimental to his colleagues … If you stand up and
declare in public that you think a large number of your colleagues are unfit to do the job because of their
chromosomes, you're telling your colleagues 'I don't think you're good enough'.”

BSB111 – Ethics Case Study Assignment, p.3

That echoes the argument made by Google's CEO Sundar Pichai in a letter to staff: “To suggest a group of
our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.”
Ms Bevan continued: “The best engineers are not necessarily male. If you continue to restrict your hiring
pool to one type of people you're going to get some mediocre people in there.” She argued that a more
diverse workplace would be better for business, too, saying: “If you've got a limited workforce you're
going to limit the products you make.” BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.
So the science he cited – was it legit?
Geoffrey Miller, the evolutionary psychologist, told the BBC that Mr Damore got “most of the science
right” and showed “pretty good judgment about what we know and what we don't know”. He wrote that
the memo “would get at least an A- in any Masters psychology course”. But Gina Rippon, the chair of
cognitive brain imaging at Aston University in Birmingham, England, disagreed. She told the BBC: “The key
thing for me is that he's got quite a lot of the science wrong … The basis of his argument is wrong. I don't
know who he's been reading.” BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.
Just 20% of Google's technical roles are filled by women, according to the company's own figures. Nearly
half of non-technical staff are female, but the fact remains that there are many more men than women
working in tech companies like Google. A 2016 study of women in Silicon Valley found that half of the
women asked had repeatedly been told they were too aggressive, and nearly half had been asked to do
low-level jobs their male colleagues weren't asked to do, like taking notes or ordering food. BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.

If you wish, you can read the full memo at:
https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2017/08/exclusive-heres-the-full-10-page-anti-diversity-screed-circulating-
internally-at-google/

(a) Explain how the issues raised in this media report reflect descriptive and normative approaches to
understanding ethics. BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.

(4 marks)

(b) Explain how the issues raised in this media report can be related to Moral Rights.

(5 marks)

(c) Imagine you were the CEO of Google Inc., deciding whether or not to fire James Damore. Using
Utilitarianism, determine whether firing James Damore is a moral act. BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.

(10 marks)

(Total = 19 marks)
[approx. 700 words]

BSB111 – Ethics Case Study Assignment, p.4
Case 2: Belle Gibson

Adapted from “Belle Gibson, fake wellness blogger, fined $410,000 over false cancer claims”, ABC News,
September 28, 2017 (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-28/disgraced-wellness-blogger-belle-gibson-
fined/8995500)

Fake wellness blogger Belle Gibson has been ordered to pay a fine of $410,000 after being found guilty of
misleading and deceptive conduct earlier this year. The Federal Court in Melbourne found she misled her
readers when she claimed her brain cancer was cured through alternative therapies and nutrition. It was
later revealed she never had the disease. BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.
Ms Gibson made $420,000 after building a social media empire and releasing The Whole Pantry cookbook
and app, based on the claims. Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) launched an investigation, and in June 2016
brought a civil case against Ms Gibson and her company Inkerman Road Nominees, which has been shut
down. The court heard Ms Gibson made false claims about donating a large portion of her profits to
charities. Ms Gibson has been fined for five separate contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law Act.
The fine includes:
 $90,000 for failing to donate proceeds from the sale of The Whole Pantry app, as publicly advertised
 $50,000 for failing to donate proceeds from the launch of The Whole Pantry app
 $30,000 for failing to donate proceeds from a 2014 Mother’s Day event
 $90,000 for failing to donate other company profits
 $150,000 for failing to donate 100 per cent of one week's app sales to the family of Joshua Schwarz, a
boy who had an inoperable brain tumour
Justice Mortimer described the failure to donate to the Schwarz family as the “most serious”
contravention of the law, stating that “Ms Gibson expressly compared the terrible circumstances of young
Joshua to her own, asserting she had the same kind of tumour as he did; a statement which was
completely false”. BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.
Justice Mortimer said that, despite significant publicity surrounding Ms Gibson's charitable pledges, she
made only three donations totalling $10,800. She said that if Ms Gibson managed to pay the fine, it would
be good to see the money donated to those who had been falsely promised donations. BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.
She refused CAV's request for the court to order Ms Gibson to pay for full-page apology advertisements in
newspapers, saying most of Ms Gibson's contravening conduct occurred on social media. She said CAV
could have instead asked the court to order Ms Gibson to undertake community service caring for people
who really do have cancer, but it did not. “It [would have been] more likely to have brought home to Ms
Gibson the impact of her conduct, and its offensiveness to members of the Australian community who
really are struggling with cancer and its effects,” Justice Mortimer wrote. BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.
The judge was critical of Ms Gibson's absence from the proceedings, saying she had “elected not to take
any responsibility for her conduct … She has chosen not to explain her conduct. She has chosen not to
apologise for it,” Justice Mortimer said. “It appears she has put her own interests before those of anyone
else … If there is one theme or pattern which emerges through her conduct, it is her relentless obsession
with herself and what best serves her interests.” BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.

BSB111 – Ethics Case Study Assignment, p.5

Justice Mortimer noted that she was not asked to make any findings about the “efficacy or otherwise of
the treatments publicised by Ms Gibson, including her so-called dietary advice”. But Cancer Council
Victoria said the fine sent a strong message to those who preyed on vulnerable people by making
misleading claims about cancer treatment. BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.
Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs Marlene Kairouz said Ms Gibson deserved the harsh penalty. “I
think she carefully planned for this,” Ms Kairouz said. “She knew exactly what she was doing and
thankfully there aren't many people out there like Belle Gibson.” BSB111 – Ethics Case Study.

(a) Describe how virtue ethics can be applied to this case. (As the report does not include any
information about developing virtues/excellences, you can ignore that aspect.)

(9 marks)

(b) Describe how Kohlberg’s theory of moral development can be applied to this case

(4 marks)

(Total = 13 marks)
[approx. 550 words]

Written communication

Spelling, accurate abbreviations, formatting (including following the submission requirements),
referencing

(3 marks)

Reading difficulty, grammar, logic and flow of the argument, links between sentences

(5 marks)

(Total = 8 marks)
GRAND TOTAL = 40 MARKS

[1,250 words]

BSB111 – Ethics Case Study Assignment, p.6

BSB111 Business Law and Ethics: Criteria Sheet: Assessment Item 1 – Ethics Case Study (Weighting: 25%)
Criteria Grade

Marks 7 (85% and above) 6 (75%-84%) 5 (65%-74%) 4 (50%-64%) <4 (<50%)

Case 1 (a)
Descriptive and
normative
ethics
(SE5.1)

Excellent understanding and
application of basic ethical concepts
to the case. This includes clear,
concise, well-expressed and well-
thought out use of information
provided in the case to illustrate
these concepts. Both the explanation
and application complement each
other to form a convincing and
coherent answer.

A good answer that includes a
clear demonstration of basic
ethical concepts. Use of
information in the case is
appropriate and relevant,
complementing the
conceptual content well.

A sound answer that clearly
demonstrates understanding of
basic ethical concepts and
makes effective use of
information in the case to
illustrate these concepts.

An adequate answer, but
which displays only a basic
understanding of ethical
concepts. Use of information
provided in the case is limited
and/or not clearly related to
ethical concepts.

An inadequate answer that
reflects a poor understanding of
basic ethical concepts and
limited or erroneous use of
information from the case.

/4

Case 1 (b)
Moral rights
(SE5.1)

Excellent understanding and
application of moral rights to the
case. The answer clearly
demonstrates a thorough
understanding of relevant moral
rights, that is supported by a well-
thought out use of information
provided in the case to illustrate how
they can be applied.

A good answer that
demonstrates understanding
of moral rights. Use of
information in the case is
appropriate and relevant,
complementing the
conceptual content well.

A sound answer that
demonstrates some
understanding of moral rights
and effectively uses
information in the case to
illustrate these rights.

An adequate answer, that
displays a basic
understanding of moral rights.
Use of information provided
in the case is limited and/or
not clearly related to moral
rights.

An inadequate answer that
reflects a poor understanding of
moral rights and limited or
erroneous use of information
from the case.

/5

Case 1 (c)
Utilitarianism
(SE5.1)

Excellent application of
utilitarianism. The answer
demonstrates that the theory is well
understood by identifying a range of
relevant stakeholders, discussing the
potential positive and negative
consequences for each stakeholder’s
happiness and quantifying these
consequences. A clear conclusion
regarding whether the action is
considered ethical is provided and
this is consistent with the analysis
and discussion of consequences.
Overall, explanation of the theory
and application to the case is strong
and convincing.

A good application of
utilitarianism but with minor
flaws in identifying
stakeholders and/or analysing
and quantifying the
consequences for stakeholder
happiness. A conclusion is
provided regarding whether
the action is moral but due to
the minor errors this
conclusion is either not fully
justified or not entirely
convincing.

A sound application of
utilitarianism but which
displays a number of flaws in
the understanding of the theory.
This could be reflected in a
limited identification of
stakeholder and/or limited
analysis of the consequences
for stakeholder happiness (e.g.
only positive consequences
included). A conclusion is
provided regarding whether the
action is moral but due to the
flaws in application, this
conclusion is only somewhat
justified.

Adequate application of
utilitarianism, but which
displays only a basic
understanding of the theory.
This could be reflected in
poor identification of
stakeholders and/or
rudimentary analysis of the
consequences for stakeholder
happiness. An attempt is
made at providing a
conclusion regarding whether
the action is moral, but the
justification for this
conclusion is unclear.

Some attempt at applying the
theory but the answer shows a
lack of understanding of
utilitarianism and/or is
substantially incorrect. For
example inadequate
identification of stakeholders,
no genuine discussion of the
consequences or the answer
shows confusion as to which
theory is being applied (using a
deontological approach rather
than a consequentialist
approach). The conclusion is
unclear or not justified or no
conclusion provided.

/10

Case 2
(a) Ethical
agents: Virtue

Excellent application of virtue ethics.
Answer demonstrates the theory is

A good application of Virtue
ethics but with minor flaws in

A sound application of Virtue
ethics but which displays a

Adequate application of
Virtue ethics, but which

Some attempt at applying the
theory but the answer is

BSB111 – Ethics Case Study Assignment, p.7

ethics
(SE5.1)

well understood by correctly
identifying and applying relevant
virtues and vices. The answer also
clearly indicates why the virtues and
vices are relevant to the case. Other
aspects of virtue ethics (function,
goals, and flourishing) are also
clearly applied, using information
from the case where appropriate.
Overall the application of the theory
and the explanation to support the
answer is strong and convincing.

applying particular virtues or
vices to the case (e.g. the
facts provided in the case are
not used). This could also
include minor confusions or a
lack of clarity regarding other
aspects of virtue ethics
(function, goals, and
flourishing).

number of flaws in the
understanding of the theory.
This could be reflected in a
confused application of how
particular virtues and vices
could be applied to the case,
and/or limited consideration of
other aspects of virtue ethics
(function, goals, and
flourishing).

displays only a basic
understanding of the theory.
This could be reflected in a
poor consideration of the
context (function, goals, and
flourishing) and/or a poor
analysis of which virtues and
vices may be applicable to
this case.

substantially incorrect showing
a lack of understanding of
Virtue ethics. For example, the
answer includes deontological
or consequentialist analyses, or
neglects significant aspects of
the virtue ethics approach (e.g.
it fails to identify appropriate
virtues or vices).

/9

(b) Ethical
agents:
Kohlberg’s
Theory of
Moral
Development
(SE5.1)

Excellent application of Kohlberg’s
theory. The answer demonstrates the
theory is well understood by
correctly articulating and applying
appropriate stages, and clearly
justifying these with reference to
facts in the case. Overall the
application of the theory and the
explanation to support the answer is
strong and convincing.

A good application of
Kohlberg’s theory but with
minor flaws in applying
stages to the case. For
example, while appropriate
stages are chosen, they may
not be clearly justified using
the facts provided in the case.
This could also reflect a lack
of clarity in explanation.

A sound application of
Kohlberg’s theory but which
displays a number of flaws in
understanding. This could be
reflected in insufficient
justification for why a
particular stage is appropriate.

Adequate application of
Kohlberg’s theory, but which
displays only a basic
understanding. This could be
reflected in confusion
regarding the stage(s) and/or
what the stage(s) actually
represent.

Some attempt at applying the
theory but the answer is
substantially incorrect showing
a lack of understanding of
Kohlberg’s theory. For
example, the answer does not
clearly apply the stages of
moral development, or the
application of a particular stage
reflects a fundamental
misunderstanding of the theory.
/4

Written Communication
Written
Communicatio
n
(PC3.1)

The Ethics Case Study is written in a
clear, well-structured, and
convincing manner. The argument is
easy to follow and understand.
Spelling, punctuation, formatting
and/or referencing is appropriate and
accurate. All formatting, submission
and referencing guidelines are
followed.

The Ethics Case Study is well
written. Any difficulties
related to grammar, structure
and the logic of the argument
are minor. There may be
some minor errors relating to
spelling, punctuation,
formatting and/or referencing.
Most formatting, submission
and referencing guidelines are
followed.

The Ethics Case Study is
reasonably well written,
although there may be
grammatical errors. The
structure of the case study and
logic of the argument are
adequate but may not always be
clear. There are some errors
relating to spelling,
punctuation, formatting and/or
referencing. Some formatting,
submission and referencing
guidelines are followed.

Although the Ethics Case
Study is understandable, there
are limitations in grammar
and structure that make it
difficult to read. The logic of
the argument may also be
hard to follow. There are also
a number of errors relating to
spelling, punctuation,
formatting and/or referencing.
Formatting, submission and
referencing guidelines may
not have been followed.

Due to poor grammar and
structure the Ethics Case Study
is difficult to understand and
the logic of the argument is
hard to follow. There are also
significant errors relating to
spelling, punctuation,
formatting and/or referencing.
Formatting, submission and
referencing guidelines may not
have been followed.

/8

Total /40

=====================================================================================

BSB111 – Ethics Case Study

Case 1: Was Google wrong?

(a) Explain how the issues raised in this media report reflect descriptive and normative
approaches to understanding ethics.
The issue raised in this report is about Google’s decision to fire an employee who wrote a
memo about women not having the same ability as men. Those who support the decision to sack
the employee argue that what he wrote is morally wrong, while those opposing his sacking argue
that Google could not withstand criticism for its diversity policies. Normative ethics is concerned
with how people ought to act based on intrinsic value, right or wrong, or the virtues they hold
(Shaw & Barry, 2015). For example, those supporting his sacking argue that it was right for
Google to sack the employee because what he wrote was inappropriate and demeaning to
women. Given that Google had to project a diversity image, the employee was seen as a threat to
its diversity policy and had to be sacked. On the other hand, descriptive ethics concerns with
what occurs or what motivate people to act in a certain way (Bazerman & Tenbrunsel, 2011). For
example, those against sacking claims that Google sacked him because it was under social
pressure to act on the employee. It was the best decision for Google to take because it had to
project its image of diversity and to satisfy the public that it stands for diversity……

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