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The Importance of Ethics in the Workplace

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The Importance of Ethics in the Workplace

In their personal and professional lives, people can and, unfortunately, sometimes do go against their moral and ethical standards. Ethical standards are what it means to be a good person, the social rules that govern our behavior. Ethics in business is essentially the study of what constitutes the right and wrong or the good or bad behavior in the workplace environment. A business is an organization whose objective is to provide goods or services for profit. The organization has a group of people that work together to achieve a common purpose. The moral challenges that these men and women face each day along with a whole range of problems that could occur, are why ethics plays such an important role in business. Most large businesses have a written code of ethics, sometimes called a code of conduct to set the standards that employees are to follow.

In today’s society, understanding and practicing the concepts of ethics is a key factor that many organizations stress among employees. In order for organizations to survive in such a competitive and changing environment, managers and supervisors must develop strong ethical standards that can be implemented throughout the company. Implementation of ethical programs can prevent and control misconduct among employees. Training management and employees in ethics compliance is the best way to address ethical issues. In the words of Roger L. Jenkins, Dean for graduate business programs at the University of Tennessee: “Today’s marketplace calls for a business executive who is bold enough to build his [or her] reputation on integrity and who has a keen sensitivity to the ethical ramifications of his [or her] decision making.”(Shaw & Berry, 1995, p. 4) Ethics training helps the employees to identify preferred values and ensures that they know how to apply them in a questionable situation. Training develops awareness and sensitivity. If managers run the business ethically, then the employees will follow the lead and work with morals and ethics.

Practicing “good” business ethics enables organizations to regulate employee conduct, as well as, develop a strong corporate atmosphere. Creating dependable and ethical relationships with fellow business peers plays a critical role in accomplishing success within the company. The more an organization is dedicated to taking care of employees, the more employees will take care of the organization. Two examples of ethical dilemmas are provided below to show just how employees are ethically challenged each day in the workplace.

The first example of an ethical dilemma that our group has provided is one about an employee that had to deal with ethnocentrism, stereotypes and prejudices. As defined by the Ask Jeeves website, Ethnocentrism is the belief that ones own group is superior to others. Stereotypes are positive or negative assessments or perceived attributes toward people or situations. Prejudice is preconceived judgments of a person or a situation. The employee, we will call Sue, is an African American woman. She works as a bank telesales representative, and one afternoon she received a phone call from a lady who immediately, after hearing Sue’s voice, requested to speak to another person in the department that was “her kind”. Sue offered her assistance to the woman, but was told again that she needed to find a white male to handle the problem. Sue transferred the call to a white male in her department and went back to work. A few minutes later, the white male transferred the lady back to Sue explaining that he could not help her; she needed Sue’s expertise. Sue took the call back, and after several minutes of calming the angry customer down, Sue was able to assist the lady with her problem in a matter of minutes.

Sue handled this situation extremely well. She did not let her personal feelings get in the way of completing her job. Even though she faced with discrimination and assaults on her character, she kept calm and kept her opinions to herself. This scenario could have resulted in angry words, but Sue was able

to treat that customer as she would like to be treated herself. Per a quote from Lieutenant Gov. Mary Fallin in Oklahoma:

It’s hard at times to find people that will take the high road, and that’s why we see so many of the

scandals we’ve seen, like WorldCom and Enron, said

Fallin. It’s not what happens to you that determines where you are in life, but its how you respond to what happens to you. (Smith, 2005, 7)

What a valuable employee, Sue definitely took the high road and handled that dilemma with integrity. Each person has many reasons for being ethical. Some reasons can be: inner beliefs, habits,

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