Does Your Workplace Have An Ethical Code of Conduct?

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Ethics and moral responsibility have been an issue for centuries. People as well as business sometimes a hard time distinguishing what should be done vs. what ought to be done. From a business aspect, managers have a higher degree of responsibility to uphold ethics and morals when handling company business and dealings with employees, shareholders, investors, or anyone else that has a stake in interest in the company. Ethics defines the moral composition of a person or business. The moral code of ethics is doing the right thing when no one is looking. The concept has come to mean various things to different people and organizations, but generally it comes down to knowing what it right or wrong in the workplace and doing what is right.

Managing Ethics in the Workplace

Ethics in the workplace should be a major concern to companies and employees as a whole. The ethical framework of a company defines who they are, and their reputation is built on it. A company should start by having an ethics policy in place and promote its use to everyone in the organization. Ethics policies can convey corporate values using codes of conduct and policies to guide acceptable decisions and behavior in the workplace. This should include extensive training, evaluations and promotion of the ethics policies.

“All organizations have ethics programs, but most do not know that they do,” wrote business ethics professor Stephen Brenner in the Journal of Business Ethics (1992, V11, pp. 391-399). “A corporate ethics program is made up of values, policies and activities which impact the propriety of organization behaviors.”

Doing this will increase awareness and effectively communicate the expectations of all involved. This will lead to an increase of transferred skills and behavior that demonstrate the ethical values of the company.

Ethics Reporting System

Employers should encourage their employees to report ethical wrong doing.  Having an ethics reporting system in place can have great benfits in the workplace. The accessibility, refuge and resolution of an ethics reporting system can make everyone feel more comfortable about reporting suspected ethics violations. Refuge and confidentiality are huge issues among employees, and management. They may be deterred from reporting ethics violations if they feel as though they will be retaliated against by the ones involved. The reporting system will allow them to reveal the ethics violations in confidence. This should include a phone number that they can call to report the ethical violations of a company.

Companies should encourage a positive working environment within the office. If the company itself demonstrates their belief in the code of ethics, this will define the value of the company and model of integrity that all should follow. With this in place, everyone will buy into the code of ethics and encourage them to want to do what is right.  Ethics programs cultivate strong teamwork and productivity. The attitude and behavior of everyone involved should mimic the codes in the ethics policy.

Is your workplace doing what is ethically right?

References:

Steven N. Brenner. Journal of Business Ethics 11 (5-6):391-399 (1992) … Journal of Business Ethics 81 (4):751 – 764.

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2 thoughts on “Does Your Workplace Have An Ethical Code of Conduct?

  1. I am a member of the Editorial Board of NALS . . . the association for legal professionals. I found your article to be very interesting. This topic would be a perfect fit for the spring 2014 issue of @Law, the NALS Magazine for Legal Professionals. The @Law is a quarterly print publication with a distribution of 5,000 nationwide. @Law articles should be 2,000 words or less and submitted in Word format. The submission deadline for the spring issue is December 1, 2013. Would you be interested in this opportunity?

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