Topic 5: Ethics of Mentoring


Topic 5 introduces scenarios where mentoring and ethics can be explored and considered as complementary to each other. HRD professionals can develop competencies to complement the skills needed to successfully develop employees. Both the employees and HRD professionals should engage in continuous learning and development. Understanding historical context with integrity and honor helps HRD professionals be true to the career that they have chosen.

Scenario 1: Training Mentor

Sheila has been  certified as a mentor for employees in the workplace. She has worked in human resource development (HRD), specifically training and development for the past seven years. She believed that adding a mentoring certification as a competency would help her strengthen her ability to help the employees. Shelia has been asked to develop an employee who is very successful and currently enjoys her position. The employee’s supervisor has asked Sheila to counsel the employee and mentor her so that she will accept a different position. The supervisor has a friend who’s child needs a job and the only position the friend’s child can do is the one that the current employee enjoys.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How should Sheila respond to the supervisor?
  2. Is it ethical for Sheila to mentor an employee away from a job in which she is successful?

Scenario 2: Recruitment

Jeremy is a college recruiter for his company. His job is to primarily attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) career fairs to recruit minority students. Unbeknownst to many people, students who attend HBCUs are not all Black. West Virginia State University, for example, is an HBCU whose students are now predominantly white. The student demographics as of 2018 were:

Student Profile in Fall 2018

8.1% African American
3.1% Asian, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic or American Indian
4.9% Multiracial
8.4% undeclared race/ethnicity
1.3% non-resident alien

Jeremy’s company wants Black applicants specifically because they are not meeting their Affirmative Action (AA) requirements. Yet, Jeremy knows that the company can meet its AA needs by recruiting white women instead. Jeremy misleads his company by requesting to go to WV State University. He recruits white females only and tells his company that he could not find any qualified Black applicants.

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you believe Jeremy’s actions were illegal? Why or why not?
  2. Do you believe Jeremy’s actions were unethical? Why or why not?

Supplemental Readings

Kram, K., & Isabella, L. (1985). Mentoring alternatives: The role of peer relationships in career development. The Academy of Management Journal, 28(1), 110-132.

McDonald, K. S., & Hite, L. M. (2005). Ethical issues in mentoring: The role of HRD. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 7(4), 569-582.

Moberg, D., & Velasquez, M. (2004). The ethics of mentoring. Business Ethics Quarterly, 14(1), 95-122.

Wright, C. A., & Wright, S. D. (1987). The role of mentors in the career development of young professionals. Family Relations, 36(2), 204-208.