GVSU to host workplace ethics discussion

By Drew Schertzer | 11/20/17 1:19am

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GVL / Emily Frye Andrew and Robbie talking about different topics while working at the 20/20 desk on Sunday November 19, 2017.

Starting a new job comes with many responsibilities, and these stressors can be a lot for new workers. An element that is often overlooked in the workplace is how to deal with personal questions. For this reason, Grand Valley State University professor Michael DeWilde will be facilitating an event called “Navigating the Politics of Workplace Topics."

This event will take place Monday, Nov. 27, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the L. William Seidman Center. DeWilde said there will be a short introduction that will be followed by many interactive activities. Students will be able to participate in acting out certain situations to learn how to respond accordingly.

“(Inappropriate topics) come up over and over again, and it leaves people feeling powerless,” DeWilde said. “It leaves people thinking that they acted unethically and that they have no way to do anything about it."

DeWilde is a professor in GVSU’s Seidman College of Business. He said he chose many of the topics from stories of situations his own students have gone through. Topics will include politics, religion, cultural and racial differences, and more.

“When I had my first job, I didn’t know how to speak up for myself since so many other employees were older than me,” said Nate Winterburn, GVSU student. “I would love to be able to go back in time to give myself some advice.” 

Winterburn said it is often difficult to join a new job. He said the workers may have known each other for years already, and that shows. 

DeWilde gave some advice on what to do when starting a new job, such as acquiring as much information as possible to start. He said people often fail to ask questions and can retreat into a shell. The key is to ask a lot of open-ended questions to gather as much information as possible. DeWilde said this allows students to gauge how the company operates and lets the students form better thoughts on what to do in certain situations. 

The two-hour event will be kicked off with an approximately 15-minute introduction. Next, students will learn from DeWilde and psychotherapist Marybeth Atwell. Students will be exploring a handful of examples through an interactive session. 

DeWilde will also address how to approach inappropriate situations in the workplace. The session, DeWilde hopes, will serve as a tool to help students in situations where an employee or employer has crossed over the line of policy.

The Koeze Business Ethics Initiative is the sector of the Seidman College of Business that is hosting this event. The initiative strives to build a healthy connection between workers' professional and personal lives.

To find out more information about this event or the KBEI, visit www.gvsu.edu/seidman/ethics/.

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