Ethical dilemma: what would you do?

Your club is planning to construct a new community playground. You are not on the project planning committee, but you’ve been actively fundraising on behalf of your club: your friends, family, and business associates have all donated generously to your club’s service project fund. At your next club meeting, the project planning committee announces that the construction contract for the playground will be awarded to a company owned by a relative of your club president. There are many construction companies in your community, but no competitive bids were solicited. Your club president personally vouches for the company and assures everyone that they do better work than the competition. The bid price sounds reasonable, but you don’t know enough about construction to be sure if this is a good deal.

What would you do? Share using the comment feature below.

21 thoughts on “Ethical dilemma: what would you do?

  1. An invitation to did should be sent to at least three other providers and the results, if any, should be compared with the one already submitted.
    Justice must be seen to be done!

  2. Insist that in order to show that the quote was fair and covered the hour way test that at least another 2 quotes be submitted due to the large amount of money the project was going to cost and that this is what business would normally do. This would also show transparency

  3. It is not fair to all concerned. It must be assumed that one contractor had privileged information about the budget; also, It is not fair to violate the trust of the donors. I would go to the club’s Board of Directors and ask them to require the project planning committee to obtain three additional bids and submit the information to the Board for a decision.

  4. I agree that the normal number of quotes should be obtained especially as the Club President is related to this firm.

  5. .As a member of that Club, I would ask that the project be submitted for bids, and that the Club President abstain from voting on the bids, unless his relative chose not to enter the competition.

  6. I agree additional competitive quotes should be obtained and the President has no vote on which company is awarded the contract, due to the position of his office as club president.

  7. It is great that the president has advised the club of his connection to the construction company.
    I would insist that we obtain three competitive quotes and assume that the president to appear even handed, would abstain from voting on the issue if his relative submitted a quote.
    We are a voluntary organization, and not only “DO THE RIGHT THING” , but appear to DO THE RIGHT THING. Total transparency is of paramount importance
    Stan Gorr
    Rosanna Club

  8. I would express appreciation to the club president for obtaining an offer from his relative’s construction company as a first yardstick. However, for the sake of his reputation and that of the club I would request two other competitive offers from reputable contractors and the committee to choose the best offer. It may still be that the first offer is the best offer since the president may have been offered a special price from his relative as a consideration to his relationship or to Rotary’s community project.

  9. More often, contacts of Rotarians give the most reasonable and charitable offer to do the project of a Rotary club. However, for the peace of mind of every one concerned, I would request the president and/or the project committee to obtain at least two more offers from reputable contractors to compare with the one submitted.

  10. I do not know if the President is privy to the cost of the contract. Otherwise he is entitled as other members of the club to ask his relations company to also submit a competitive bid too.

  11. When Paul Harris first got together in 1905 it was with a group of friends who, with integrity, would share business opportunities as well as friendship. The scenario indicates that the price seems reasonable and the President is anticipating a better quality job.
    We should trust our Rotary colleagues to act with thrust and integrity – going through an artificial tendering process is unfair to other bidders as we would expect them to put work in but fail to provide a better bid.
    Heed the advice of John Ruskin.

    1. ‘…price seems reasonable…’ still gives me a problem. As an alternative, the price needs a review by an expert in the trade, in my view.
      Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.
      -John Ruskin

  12. All great points. How would this example change if the construction company donated the work to the club? In other words, no charge. How would this impact the president and his or her connection? Would a potential ethical dilemma still exist? Thoughts?

    1. I suggest we stick to the point of the ‘ethical dilemma’ as posed. Perhaps it is time for the author to weigh in…

  13. I apologize if this caused you issues. That was not my intent. However, I feel this still does address the original issue but in a different light. Again, sorry if I did cause issues for you.

  14. As a Rotary club, we should evaluate and determine whether by his action, the Club president has gone against Rotary fundamental principles. We should remind ourselves of the 4-way Test and the history of Rotary.
    The president informed the club assembly of his decision and as such he/she is accountable to the club members.

  15. Ethically, we need to ask for 2 more quotes to validate the price. If one of them offers to donate their services, all the better. As stated, the president should declare a conflict of interest and not take part in the process and then the club can show value to the community for their contributions.

  16. I am not a Rotarian but I know that to deal with such situations Rotary has ‘The Four Way Test’, ‘The Declaration of Rotarians in Business and Professions’ and ‘Object of Rotary’, to promote and advance Rotary’s high ethical standards. Therefor the the process of awarding the contact to the company owned by the relative of the President is wrong. A new planning committee has to be formed.

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