Values and ethics in the workplace essay

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Essay on Ethics

We do not sell products that we know will be dangerous to our customers. Often, however, the answers are highly complex. It is these "gray areas" that cause the majority of ethical dilemmas. As evidence to this fact, it has been shown that "There is no nation, no religion, and no ethnic group that openly argues for the right to cheat, deceive, exploit, abuse, harm, or steal from others.

Neither is there anyone who publicly attempts to justify murder, racism, assault, rape, fraud, deceit, or intimidation. The problem, then, is not that we lack ethical principles.


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The problem is that we are naturally adept at hiding our own violations of them. Case Study Number 1 The case study below is one example of how employees are challenged in the workplace. While on duty, she witnessed a cashier taking money out of the register of another cashier. At closing time, the second cashier's register was short. To offset the shortage, she took money out of the first cashier's register. The second cashier was unaware that Nicole saw her take the money. When she found out, she threatened Nicole which forced Nicole to make a very difficult decision.

On one hand, she could have easily turned a blind eye to the entire situation.

This would have been the easiest decision by far. However, ethically, she knew this was not the correct decision. Even though she risked physical harm, in the end, she decided turned in the employee. In this case, Nicole used sound ethical judgment instead of the easy way out. Often times, this is not an easy decision. This type of behavior can be further illustrated by this statement by Elder and Paul.

To live an ethical life, then, is to develop command over our native egocentric tendencies. The example details how an employer used poor ethical decision making. One night while working the evening shift, she received a call from a local hospital. The caller stated that a married Sheriff's Deputy, whom Tonya had a very close working relationship with, had assaulted his girlfriend.

The caller indicated that the woman needed to file a domestic battery report. Tonya found herself in a difficult situation and did not want to take the report. If she did, her fellow officer would potentially find himself in serious trouble and possibly lose his job.

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Based on past experiences, she also knew that the woman he assaulted would take him back in a few weeks. Tonya called the offending deputy to discuss the situation. The deputy advised her to take the report and he would face the consequences. Before she did, she decided to contact her superior officer and explain the situation to him.

Ethical Behavior in the Workplace Essay - Words | Major Tests

He advised her to take the report but not to file it until the Chief and Sheriff could discuss the matter. Holding onto her strong ethical beliefs, Tonya took the report and filed it at the end of her shift as she was obligated to do based upon the vow she took. Unfortunately, her Major did not agree, and she was reprimanded. Immediately, she realized her employer's ethical standards and hers did not match and she resigned from her position within two weeks. In this particular case, her employer did not handle the situation in an ethical manner.

Her Supervisor should have intervened in the situation and taken the report himself. This would have removed Tonya from being directly involved and having to make the difficult choice she was forced to make. Conclusion Unfortunately, there is no single, definitive source for ethical standards in the workplace. A company's ethical guidelines will vary with the values and culture of each individual organization, and emphasize those values and behaviors that are most critical to the organization.

In summary, ethical principles can be a very simple concept or an extremely complicated one. We, as people and employees, have the power to affect the lives of others by our decisions and actions.

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We have a choice, and if we so choose, "We can learn to respect the rights of others and not simply focus on fulfilling our desires" Elder and Paul, Return to HelpMe. Business people need more practical tools and information to understand their values and how to manage them. According to Wallace, "A credo generally describes the highest values to which the company aspires to operate. Some business ethicists disagree that codes have any value.

Usually they explain that too much focus is put on the codes themselves, and that codes themselves are not influential in managing ethics in the workplace.

Ethical issues that businesses face

Many ethicists note that it's the developing and continuing dialogue around the code's values that is most important. If your organization is quite large, e. Codes should not be developed out of the Human Resource or Legal departments alone, as is too often done. Codes are insufficient if intended only to ensure that policies are legal.

All staff must see the ethics program being driven by top management. Note that codes of ethics and codes of conduct may be the same in some organizations, depending on the organization's culture and operations and on the ultimate level of specificity in the code s. Perhaps too often, business ethics is portrayed as a matter of resolving conflicts in which one option appears to be the clear choice.

For example, case studies are often presented in which an employee is faced with whether or not to lie, steal, cheat, abuse another, break terms of a contract, etc. However, ethical dilemmas faced by managers are often more real-to-life and highly complex with no clear guidelines, whether in law or often in religion.

As noted earlier in this document, Doug Wallace, Twin Cities-based consultant, explains that one knows when they have a significant ethical conflict when there is presence of a significant value conflicts among differing interests, b real alternatives that are equality justifiable, and c significant consequences on "stakeholders" in the situation.


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An ethical dilemma exists when one is faced with having to make a choice among these alternatives. What's an Ethical Dilemma? Culture is comprised of the values, norms, folkways and behaviors of an organization. Ethics is about moral values, or values regarding right and wrong.

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Therefore, cultural assessments can be extremely valuable when assessing the moral values in an organization. Also consider Organizational Culture Organizational Assessments. The ethics program is essentially useless unless all staff members are trained about what it is, how it works and their roles in it. The nature of the system may invite suspicion if not handled openly and honestly. In addition, no matter how fair and up-to-date is a set of policies, the legal system will often interpret employee behavior rather than written policies as de facto policy.

Therefore, all staff must be aware of and act in full accordance with policies and procedures this is true, whether policies and procedures are for ethics programs or personnel management.

Ethics in the Workplace

This full accordance requires training about policies and procedures. Blankfein, How are you going to put ethics first? Cost of a Culture of Fear? Social responsibility and business ethics are often regarding as the same concepts. However, the social responsibility movement is but one aspect of the overall discipline of business ethics. The social responsibility movement arose particularly during the s with increased public consciousness about the role of business in helping to cultivate and maintain highly ethical practices in society and particularly in the natural environment.

There are many online resources in regard to social responsibility. The following will help to get your started. To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.