Ethics in the Workplace
By Myron Curry
President of BusinessTrainingMedia.com
Workplace Ethics is a subject that we have all heard of. In fact, the subject of
Ethics in general is something that most people are familiar with. And, what is
commonly understood about ethics is there are ethics and then there are workplace
ethics. What most people don’t realize, however, is that there is no such thing
as workplace ethics; ethics are the same, (or, should be) whether in the workplace
or in personal life.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Ethics are about making choices that may not always feel good or seem like they
benefit you but are the “right” choices to make. They are the choices that are examples
of “model citizens” and examples of the golden rules. We’ve all heard the golden
rules: Don’t hurt, don’t steal, don’t lie, or one of the most famous: “Do unto others
as you would have done to you.” These are not just catchy phrases; these are words
of wisdom that any productive member of society should strive to live by.
In our personal lives, most people try to do exactly that. Ethics are thought of
by many people as something that is related to the private side of life and not
to the business side. In many businesses, having ethics is frowned upon or thought
of as a negative subject. This is because business is usually about doing what’s
best for number one, not about what’s really the right thing to do. You probably
are already feeling uneasy just reading this.
A GOOD EXAMPLE
Take ENRON, for example. Were the actions of ENRON’s CEO’s a good example of ethics?
No. But, what they WERE was a CLASSIC example of was two things: One, those actions
displayed how ethics were not used in any way. Two, their actions painted a grim
and realistic picture of what can happen when ethics are neglected. Had ethics been
considered in the first place by the leaders of the company, there would have been
no scandal. If ethics were used on a daily basis in every company, there would never
Martha Stewart comes to mind when speaking of ethics. Again, there is a feeling
of uneasiness when dealing with this topic. But, why is it like that? Ethics are
supposed to improve our lives and invoke good feelings. Perhaps the reason ethics
is such a sore subject is because they are so often poorly used, if used at all.
A NEW WAY
Ethics are making a comeback. To begin with, more and more corporations and businessmen
and woman are now realizing that ethics aren’t checked at the door when entering
the workplace. Ethics have every bit as much a place in the public as they do the
private. How is it there should be separate sets of ethics, depending upon whether
it is your personal life or your work life? The answer is that there shouldn’t be
a separate set and in light of recent events that we see on our television sets
as of late, more and more companies are realizing this fact.
Some companies are incorporating ethics into their training. It is s subject that
can go hand-in-hand with business and when employees and CEO’s alike understand
what ethics are about, business can improve. Not only will the community take note
of the ethical nature of a business but also so will customers.
Periodic reevaluations are suggested in ethics training as well, since times change
many things that some would never consider ethical or non-ethical. For instance,
when the first computer hacker to send a work into a university computer system
crippled the entire network that the system was a part of, including that of public
utilities – simply because he could do it – a question of ethics is hard to pose.
Computers were new, at the time. And, no one had ever been able to do such a thing
before. With new times comes new technology and new ways of doing things. Ethics
will still play a part of it all and refreshing ethics training only re-strengthens
what has already been learned, when new ages come about.
In the end, it’s all about what a person understands about ethics. Many university
curriculums are now heavily applying the teaching of Ethics and for good reason.
Young minds will take this information into the workforce and understand that ethics
need to be applied there as well as in the private sector. Corporations will be
able to avoid embarrassing scandals that are presented all over national news. Small
business will be able to keep and attract more clients and customers. Negotiations
between businesses could be accomplished with more consideration for the other company
in mind, which would only help both.
Above all, a high level of ethics in your business should be in place at least for
the customers. If anything, it is the customer that should be considered the most
when it comes to ethical business practices. In the long run, a company will reap
great profits from a customer base that feels it is being treated fairly and truthfully.
Myron Curry is President and CEO of
BusinessTrainingMedia.com a leading provider
of workforce and business development training programs designed exclusively for
corporate deployment. Myron has over 20 years of successful management experience
with leading fortune 500 companies and has written numerous articles about workforce