What Are Some Danger Signs That an Organization May Be Encouraging an Unethical Behaviour?

1 January 2017

Ethical standards also include those that enjoin virtues of honesty, compassion, and loyalty. And, ethical standards include standards relating to rights, such as the right to life, the right to freedom from injury, and the right to privacy. Such standards are adequate standards of ethics because they are supported by consistent and well-founded reasons. Secondly, ethics refers to the study and development of one’s ethical standards. Feelings, laws, and social norms can deviate from what is ethical.

So it is necessary to constantly examine one’s standards to ensure that they are reasonable and well-founded. Ethics also means, then, the continuous effort of studying our own moral beliefs and our moral conduct, and striving to ensure that we, and the institutions we help to shape, live up to standards that are reasonable and solidly-based. Ethics can also be defined as the critical, structured examination of how we should behave — in particular, how we should constrain the pursuit of self-interest when our actions affect others.

Ethics is critical in the sense of having to do with examining and critiquing various moral beliefs and practices. (In other words, it’s not just about describing people’s values or behaviour. ) Ethics involves looking at particular norms and values and behaviours and judging them, asking whether various norms and values are mutually contradictory, and asking which ones matter more in what sorts of situations. Ethics is structured in the sense that it’s not just about having an opinion about how people should behave. Everyone has opinions.

Ethics involves attempting, at least, to find higher-order principles and theories in an attempt to rationalize and unify our diverse moral beliefs. For practical purposes, ethics means providing reasoned justification for our choices & behaviour when it affects others, and reasoned justification for our praise or criticism of other people’s behaviour. (B) Some danger signs that an organization may be encouraging an unethical behaviour include – • Lack or absence of strong ethical leadership. Actions speak louder than words, but silence is also deafening.

Because of the importance of creating a robust ethics infrastructure, ethics cannot be delegated. CEOs cannot be passive when it comes to ethics. The emphasis and priority given to financial goals in corporate communications gives the impression that the numbers are all that matter. If you want those numbers to be legitimate, if you want employees to know that ethics matter, you must tell them, repeat it, and tell them again and show them by example because employees actually look up to their leaders. Being a good person is not enough.

Research has shown that you cannot assume that employees will see your good works and emulate them. Ethical leaders demonstrate the importance of values in both word and deed. All CEOs make difficult decisions every day, and most agonize over those with ethical implications. Ethical leaders discuss the values, as well as the numbers, behind those decisions. • Ineffective ethics management Eighty percent of organizations have some type of a formal ethics program. Unfortunately, the recent trend is to marginalize ethics, cut resources and demote the position of ethics officer.

To ensure the integrity of the company, CEOs should follow the lead of American Express, empowering their ethics officer to report to the audit committee of the board. • Lack of dynamic ethics code Effective codes are living, breathing guidelines, implemented with clear, useful policies and procedures. They become the cornerstone of the ethics program – they are not in and of themselves an ethics program – and they should never be waived. If such codes are simply written and posted on a wall, or stuck in a drawer they create more skepticism and cynicism among employees than if they had never been written at all.

Communications and training on the code of ethics, values, policies and procedures are fundamental to ensuring the integrity of the corporation. While employees love to cynically joke about ethics training, 89 percent of corporate employees who receive ethics training find it useful “frequently or occasionally. ” Perhaps more than ever, as responsibility is decentralized, employees are under increasing pressures and find themselves moving from one company to another more frequently; communications and training around ethics are paramount. Not rewarding ethical behaviour Bad people do bad things. Good people do bad things when they are motivated to do so. The current scandals globally have shown that people are motivated by the obvious: the promise of rewards and the fear sanctions. While there has been much talk of penalties, it is not enough to punish people for doing bad things. If we want our employees and agents to be ethical we must make ethical behavior rewarding. Effective CEOs recognize integrity on the part of individuals and groups – and require their managers to do the same.

It is also important to be aware of what types of pressures are on employees. Many employees and companies thrive in a fast-paced, competitive environment, but without strong reinforcements pressure to perform can easily be interpreted as pressure to lie, cheat and steal. • Sanctioning the whistle blower instead of the culprit Whistle blowing occurs when a person provides information to employer or regulator which exposes unethical conduct, acts or illegality of action of certain persons or even the organization.

Example: Sherron Watkins reported accounting fraud to Kenneth Lay, the Chief Executive Officer of ENRON because she thought that Lay would take positive action. Lay instead fired Watkins in order to cover up the fraud. Whistle blowers are moral leaders who risk their jobs and even their lives to right the wrong and ensure justice and fair play in the organization. They should be encouraged and protected for the organization to survive and for staff or people to save their jobs and source of livelihood. The objective of the whistle blower is to correct unethical conduct.

Others include- • Pretending the behavior is not really unethical or illegal. • Excusing the behavior by saying it’s really in the organization’s best interest. • Assuming the behavior is okay because no one else would ever be expected to find out about it. • Expecting your superiors to support and protect you if anything should go wrong. (C) Employees break rules for the following reason – • In defiance to authority • In reaction to autocratic leadership style • To protect themselves and their colleagues from sanctions

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