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CASE STUDY The Best of Intentions

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CASE STUDY The Best of Intentions
by John Humphreys
As a manager, you often face serious ethical
dilemmas when dealing with issues of workplace
diversity. What should you do, though, when your
decision hurts the one it was intended to help? “ S. MITCHELL,
TWO.” MR. HOLDING LINE ON The sound reverberated in her
head as her mind drifted back to
more self-assured days. It was all
so simple then. The boundaries of
right and wrong had been so
completely well defined. It had all
been so – well, black and white. 1 Cynthia Mitchell, 28, was a rising star with AgFunds, Inc., a financial
services company specializing in investments and
accounting services for farmers
AgFunds. He had taken a
and farmer-owned cooperatives.
declining portfolio and built it
Cynthia, an Indiana native,
into the company’s largest and
earned her bachelor’s degree in
most coveted. Cynthia, as well as
agricultural economics from
most of her graduating class,
Purdue University and an MBA
quickly applied for such a
from the University of Kansas. A
lucrative territory.
movie buff from an early age,
Cynthia’s excitement soon
she dreamed of becoming
turned to bewilderment. Right
involved with the agricultural
there in black and white was the
community in some way ever
since she had seen Henry Fonda
Hawkins on his selection to fill
in the video version of
Mike Graves’ celebrated shoes.
Steinbeck’s The Grapes of
Bill Hawkins? Nothing against
Bill but he certainly didn’t
Although she had originally
planned to pursue a career on the
credentials. In fact, she had spent
Chicago Board of Trade, the
considerable time tutoring Bill
opportunities there had not
after he performed poorly on one
seemed promising. AgFunds, on
of his licensing tests. And to
the other hand, had aggressively
make matters worse, rumors
pursued her and those efforts had
were floating that Mike had
paid off. She had joined the firm
personally picked Bill as his
as an investment trainee in the
Chicago regional office upon
A chance meeting at the
regional office, however, turned
Cynthia found that her first
Cynthia’s confusion into anger.
year with AgFunds wasn’t that
“Congratulations on becoming
different from her recent
the new district manager,” she
educational experience. Most of
told Mike. “You’ve certainly
her time was dedicated to
earned it.” The recognition made

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