Exploring Ethics at Cyber HITEC: Tips to Approach Ethical Situations at Work

Eventioneer Claire Kenney, Evention’s Marketing Communication’s Manager, was recently invited to collaborate with Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference’s (HITEC) media team on the conference’s blog content. Each year, the conference brings together finance and technology hospitality professionals from around the world. This year, these professionals gathered virtually for education sessions and a robust product showcase as part of Cyber HITEC 2020. The following blog is from one of Claire’s contributions to HITEC’s blog.

Each year, the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC) facilitates ongoing learning opportunities for hospitality finance and tech professionals worldwide. As part of the conference, hospitality professionals present educational sessions. Topics vary across aspects of hospitality finance, accounting, and technology. This year, one of the many virtual education sessions offered included a session on ethics.

Dr. Judy Holcombs (CHAE+) educational HITEC presentation entitled Understanding the Ambiguity of Ethics explored frameworks for evaluating ethical decisions through various scenarios.

Technology certainly brings many opportunities for evaluating ethical decision-making. It is a vital tool that can facilitate a lot of good. Nevertheless, despite pure intent, technology can be used for illegal or harmful activity. As such, hospitality professionals and others must regularly discern the best ways to leverage it.

In particular, emerging technologies create opportunities for reevaluating ethical questions or pose entirely new ethical questions. Many times, these ethical scenarios are marked by ambiguity. Depending on the lens used to evaluate the situation, one might come to a different conclusion on what the most ethical action should be.

For example, AI is a valuable tool. It can be leveraged for safety and security. However, in certain scenarios, the original intent to protect might be clouded by privacy infringement.

Dr. Holcomb’s research found the best avenue to deal with ethical situations involves three steps:

First, avoid overconfidence. Do not overlook potential threats to good intent.

Second, consciously avoid incrementalism. Many times major ethical wrongdoings begin with minor ethical misjudgments or actions.

Third, acknowledge that there may be an ethical issue. Too much focus on how the good outweighs the bad may lead to the disregard for ethical questions. Think about the situation from multiple angles to help yourself come to the most ethical conclusions.

Holcomb suggests asking the following questions when evaluating a situation that involves ethical discernment:

  1. Who are the stakeholders involved?
  2. Who do you owe a duty to?
  3. What are the important facts?
  4. What additional information is required?

Together, these steps and questions help one come to the best ethical conclusions. Ethical issues confront hospitality finance, accounting and technical professionals frequently. Learning from the research and experiences of fellow financial and tech colleagues holds the overall industry accountable.

Ethical calibration ultimately leads to brand and consumer confidence. A firm ethical foundation for hospitality and other professionals is personally and professionally important.

As Holcomb reminded her audience, the good always wins out. The truth will eventually surface. It might be an old saying, but it is definitely a timeless ethical compass.