Implementing ethics in the workplace is a complex but rewarding task. Every individual has a unique set of ethical standards. Allowing each person to follow his or her moral compass will result in varied results. Companies need to focus on implementing uniform ethical standards and rules throughout their organizations. Employees should never have to question whether or not they are doing the right thing.
Implementing ethics in the workplace will also lead to better profits and long-term growth. Unethical business practices can cause immediate financial gain, but they will cost companies customers and employees over time. When unethical practices become public knowledge, it is difficult for a business to recover its reputation. Organizations with reputations for being ethical will also find it easier to earn credit, find investors, and expand into international markets. There are also benefits at the organizational level.
- Convinces employees that the company truly values ethical decision-making.
- Builds awareness of ethical issues.
- Creates an ethical guideline for employees to follow.
Guidelines for Managing Ethics in the Workplace
Managing ethics in the workplace requires certain tools. Every organization needs a Code of Ethics, a Code of Conduct, and Policies and Procedures. These tools direct the organization as leaders attempt to manage ethics.
Guidelines for Implementing and Managing Ethics:
- Give it time: Managing ethics is a process-oriented activity that requires time and constant assessment.
- Focus on behavior: Do not give vague requirements; make sure that ethics management has an impact on behavior.
- Avoid problems: Create clear codes and policies that will prevent ethical problems.
- Be open: Involve different groups in ethics program and make decisions public.
- Integrate ethics: Make sure that all management programs have ethical values.
- Allow for mistakes: Teach employees how to behave ethically, and do not give up when mistakes happen.
Roles and Responsibilities
The roles and responsibilities necessary to effectively implement workplace ethics will vary with each organization. A manager should be in place to oversee the ethics program, but he or she will need the support provided by other positions. Smaller organizations may not need to fill all of the roles listed below; determine what your company needs before executing an ethics program.
- CEO: The CEO of every company needs to support business ethics and lead by example.
- Ethics committee: An ethics committee will develop and supervise the program.
- Ethics management team: Senior managers implement the program and train employees.
- Ethics executive: An ethics executive or officer is trained to resolve ethical problems.
- Ombudsperson: This position requires interpreting and integrating values throughout the organization.