Every day, we're faced with situations that require us to make decisions that have ethical implications. They may be decisions about what to tell somebody, how to react to a situation, or what to do? We have different ideas about what's "right" in any given situation.
Ethics is the branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.
Organizations have ethical frameworks. Some formalize these into a documented "code of ethics" to which employees may or may not adhere. Others have commonly accepted ethical practices that aren't documented, but are a pervasive element in the culture. What's your situation at work?
Many individuals also have ethical frameworks. Their behavior is consistent with their beliefs. Do you have certain beliefs regarding appropriate ethical behavior at work?
Clarify your ethical beliefs
Indicate what you would do in each of the following situations:
1. If you see a colleague taking office supplies home, would you report this? Speak to your colleague?
2. Do you pad your expense account?
3. A talented employee is usually 15 minutes late every morning, but stays late to complete projects. Company policy states that wages should be deducted from employees who come late. As his superior, would you deduct his wages?
4. During lunch, a valued customer makes offensive racist remarks. Would you express your feelings of disapproval?
5. Your work requires making long distance calls. Do you also make personal calls if you know they can't be traced?
6. You're in charge of hiring employees. Both a friend and a more qualified person apply for a position. Would you hire your friend?
7. A colleague at your company is stealing from petty cash. Would you tell him to stop? Tell your superior?
8. Your company does shoddy work. Would you tell a major client this if it could lead to company bankruptcy and resulting unemployment?
9. Do you claim false experiences on your resume? During a job an interview? A signed statement?
10. As an employee of a retail organization, would you tell customers that a competitor sells certain products for less?
11. You're company is bidding for a contract that will produce a good product but have a later delivery date than requested. Would you tell the truth?
12. You're the CEO of a small airline company. The planes you possess have a known safety problem, but will last for five more years. Would you buy newer, safer planes?
13. You're very competent and usually complete projects before colleagues who feel you show them up. Do you slow your productivity?
14. A subordinate or boss implies that there are work-related rewards tied to a favorable sexual response. Would you respond to the advance?
15. I make long distance personal calls from my work phone.
Developing an ethical framework
What do your responses to the above questions say about your ethics? Under what circumstances do your ethical and unethical behaviors occur? How do these behaviors affect your job performance? Promotional opportunities? Interaction with colleagues, clients, or friends?
Write two or three sentences describing your ethical beliefs or framework. Review your company's ethical framework. Is your ethical framework compatible with that of your organization? If not, are you comfortable exercising your beliefs?
Share your ethical beliefs with a trusted co-worker, and give each other feedback regarding ways in which you can both enhance your workplace ethical behaviors.
Many professional associations and organizations ask potential member if they have you at any time been convicted of a felony, sanctioned by any professional ethics body, licensing board, or other regulatory body or by any professional or scientific organization. How would you respond to these questions?
Knowing your ethical beliefs as well as those of your organization and professional association enables you to work comfortably and with integrity. Can you do anything this week to enhance your ethical behavior at work?
Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life by Dr. Carole Kanchier, offers additional tips for enhancing work ethics: https://www.amazon.com/Questers-Dare-Change-Your-Life/dp/1508408963