Unit 5: Week 1: Business Ethics and Computer Security

Unit 5: Week 1: Business Ethics and Computer Security

Essential Questions

  • What is important to me? How do I represent what’s important by the way I act in different situations? How will it influence the way I act when providing customer service?
  • How can the way I behave influence an organization I’m affiliated with?
  • How do the actions of others in the organization impact me?
  • Why is being a customer support representative important?

Big Ideas

We all have different influences in our lives. We act and think the way we do because of the culmination of interaction we have with others, including family members, friends, and even educators and employers. The way different people react to the same situation can vary, because we have different values, morals, and mores (mores may also be referred to as societal norms).

Every organization also has its own values, morals, and norms. Most organizations want their employees to act professionally and ethically. Ethics help us determine right from wrong, but the choices aren’t always so clear. People face ethical dilemmas all the time in which their own values come into conflict with those of others, like their friends or co-workers, or even their employers. Some ethical dilemmas are small and inconsequential, yet others can be severe.

Everyone can take steps to analyze situations related to an ethical dilemma and make the best decision based on the parameters of the situation, such as who is involved, who might benefit, or who might be hurt depending on how the situation plays out. On a Help Desk, your decisions will be influenced by the expectations of your school or district for people in that position, but sometimes your own values and morals will come into play. The outcome of an ethical dilemma should be making the best decision, which may not always seem like the right decision for everyone, but you can work with others to determine what’s best overall.

Connection to Student Lives

How does it make you feel when you see or find out somebody has done something they probably shouldn’t have done? It can be something that a lot of people do, like share a copy of a song or a movie they didn’t purchase. Just because a lot of people do something wrong, even something illegal, is it okay?

What if somebody did something at school? Perhaps they shared homework or test answers. Or maybe they “talked trash” about a friend of yours. Would it be different if it occurred at a workplace where you were employed? What if someone you knew constantly showed up late to work? Or maybe they took some pens from work? Or maybe some paper for their printer at home, or…a laptop? Schools and businesses have policies and procedures that are intended to help keep people and resources safe and to keep the business running as smoothly as possible. In the digital age, some of those resources are digital information, like software, but also personal information like your address, grades, emails, project files and all the other digital information about you, every other student, and the educators who work there.

As a Help Desk representative, you now represent your school and district. You play a part in upholding policies and procedures that protect information and others. You may have access to other people’s information in the Help Desk. You wouldn’t want anyone to share your personal information. What would you do if you found someone not following procedures appropriately?

Framing Problem

How does each person’s values and sense of integrity influence how well they contribute to a team? The team can be a work team that is responsible for providing customer support. How should customer support representatives act on and off the job to show they are a benefit to the organization for which they work?

Cornerstone Assessment

Making the best decisions. Students should review Help Desk policies and procedures, or where there are none, investigate possible policies and procedures they find from other organizations. After exploring potential ethical dilemmas within the scope of the Help Desk, students should develop guidance for Help Desk personnel on possible actions for those dilemmas to add to the Help Desk information base.

HDI Standards

  • 1.2.1 Define ethics in business
  • 1.2.2 Describe ethical behavior in a support center
  • 1.2.3 Describe how a customer service representative should be ethical
  • 1.3.4 Identify how a customer service representative can deliver consistent
  • 1.3.5 Explain how a customer service representative demonstrates value to the organization
  • quality customer service


  • What business ethics are, such as working in a school system and that ethics includes integrity and aligning one’s values with the values of the organization.
  • The characteristics of representatives in an ethical support center environment.
  • Ethical behaviors for customer service representatives
  • How a customer service representative delivers consistent, quality customer service.
  • How a customer service representative demonstrates value to the organization


  • Define ethics in business, like a school system.
  • Describe ethical behavior in a support center.
  • Describe how a customer service representative should be ethical.
  • Identify how a customer service representative can deliver consistent, quality customer service.
  • Explain how a customer service representative demonstrates value to the organization.

Supporting Vocabulary

  • Code of conduct
  • Commitments
  • Documentation
  • Ethics (Personal vs. Business Ethics)
  • Fairness and consistency
  • Integrity
  • Loyalty
  • Personal accountability
  • Service levels
  • Stakeholders
  • Standard operating procedure
  • Taking ownership
  • Timely manner
  • Unethical and unauthorized uses of company resources
  • Values

Weekly Map


Introduction to problem: What’s the best decision? (Consider using the video What is Business Ethics? to frame the problem and promote discussion.)

Exploration of ethical decision-making frameworks or models through discussion,role play, games or simulations

Determine whether students will work independently or in teams to explore the topic and contribute to the Help Desk knowledge base.


Review content resources with whole group


Exploration/discussion of ethical decision-making frameworks or models through discussion,role play, games or simulations


Contribute to individual or team project


Hands-on exploration with IT professionals: Real-world Ethical Decisions

Contribute to individual or team project.


Hands-on exploration with IT professionals: Real-world Ethical Decisions

Contribute to individual or team project.


Teams share and synthesize suggestions for Help Desk knowledge base with the whole group.

Lesson Ideas

Exploring ethical decision making with students can be completed through the use of scenarios, role-play, and simulations. Some teachers use games to explore issues related to ethics. Diane Rubino, who teaches New York University and Columbia, shares examples of how she incorporates simulations and acting exercises to explore ethical dilemmas with her students in her post Acting Out: Borrowing from Life and Art to Teach Ethics on Faculty Focus.

It’s important to remember that ethical decisions are rarely right or wrong. They are contextual and influenced by individual, organizational, and social values and norms. The focus of this unit on business ethics should be on helping students make better informed decisions while working on the Help Desk rather than exploring the complex topic of ethics across all parts of our lives. Use the examples of how a customer service representative is ethical; provides consistent, quality service; and demonstrates value to the organization from HDI to explore existing Help Desk policies and procedures and brainstorm potential ethical issues. If not Help Desk policies exist, students can use this time to help generate ideas for them.

Having question prompts, a decision-making model, or a framework can help students work through ethical issues. The Science Learning Hub in Zealand has created a downloadable Ethics Thinking Toolkit that teachers can use to scaffold student learning around an ethical issue in any subject area, not just science. Teachers can choose an ethical issue to explore and use one or more of the frameworks presented in the toolkit:

  1. Consequences: What are the benefits and risks?
  2. Rights and responsibilities: What rights need to be protected and who is responsible for this?
  3. Autonomy: Should individuals have the right to choose for themselves, or does one decision count for everyone?
  4. Virtue ethics: What is the ‘good’ thing to do?
  5. Pluralism: What perspectives do groups with other cultural, spiritual or religious views have?

Some additional decision-making frameworks can be found online. A couple of examples include:

  • Douglas R. May, Co-director for the International Center for Ethics in Business at Kansas University developed this short slide presentation on nine Steps of the Ethical Decision-Making Process. The steps are appropriate for children as well as adults and can be applied in many contexts. They can be applied to scenarios or role-play situations.
  • Caroline Forsey contributed this blog post on HubSpot on How to Practice Ethical Decision Making at Work. It illustrates how to use the PLUS Model for guiding ethical decision making in the workplace and includes some examples to work through.

Potential Resources

Students should have access to any policies or procedures for Help Desk personnel. If there are none, they may benefit from a Code of Conduct from the school or district. In some cases, they may need to research common Help Desk policies and procedures to help inform how they can make the best decisions in their role as a customer service representative.

HDI-CSR Competencies

Ethics in a school system refers to abiding by principles and codes that guide how members of an organization are expected to behave. Ethics includes integrity, which is the honesty of one’s actions, and aligning one’s values with the values of the organization.

An ethical support center environment is characterized by representatives who:

  • Provide consistent service to all customers
  • Demonstrate integrity in their actions and daily practices
  • Take ownership and hold themselves personally accountable for their actions
  • Fulfill commitments
  • Protect and enhance the image of the support center
  • Are loyal to the company, support organization, and team

A customer service representative should be ethical by:

  • Complying with the company code of conduct
  • Reporting unethical and unauthorized use of company equipment as outlined in the standard operating procedures
  • Treating all stakeholders with respect, dignity, and being courtesy
  • Conveying accurate and truthful information
  • Providing the same level of quality and service to all users in order to remain fair and consistent

A customer service representative delivers consistent, quality customer service by:

  • Responding to customer issues in a timely manner
  • Understanding and documenting customer needs
  • Taking ownership of customer incidents
  • Making specific commitments, then consistently meeting or exceeding those commitments, while remaining faithful to organizational policies
  • Resolving or assisting in the resolution of incidents within established service levels
  • Promoting the value of the support center

A customer service representative demonstrates value to the organization by:

  • Performing their role in a consistent quality manner, thus helping the school system to achieve its vision and mission
  • Keeping their customers informed, thus promoting the service offerings to meet the needs of the customers
  • Promoting and educating customers on the services that are available, thus increasing the utilization of those services
  • Managing customer expectations and following up, thus increasing visibility to the service and support center which may result in an increase in customer satisfaction and leads to customer loyalty

Additional Resources

What is Business Ethics? from Global Ethics Solutions (3:54) Ethics in the workplace are more rigid than understanding your personal moral code. Workers are expected to act professionally, and what is meant ethical is often decided by an employer, not you. This is a good introduction to the topic of ethics and moving from one’s personal morals to understanding professional ethics.

How to Develop an INSANE Work Ethic (10:11) is an infotainment presentation from TopThink provides practical strategies people an use to improve their work ethic, such as 1)  “the weekly flood” that promotes perseverance and self-discipline, 2) implementing the “plus one routine” to improve the quality and quantity of your work, 3) separating creation from critique in order to leverage the power of both, and 4) and productive diversions that help you deal with frustration instead of engaging in short-term distractions that decrease productivity. Students can be encouraged to choose one strategy to try, given time to implement and monitor it, and share their experiences–whether positive or not–about trying the strategy.