30 Sep The Ethical Merry Go Round
Everyone has a responsibility to be ethical, and practice ethics in the workplace. If we know this to be true, then why do employees struggle with making the right choice when faced with an ethical dilemma? The answer to this question comes down to a difficult decision that must be made by an individual or group of employees, “do I follow corporate policy or do I hide the truth because no one would find out anyway”. Thus, the merry go round begins.
In any business setting you are faced with ethical decisions that have lasting impacts on the overall organizational culture. In some cases the ethical breakdown can cause such a controversy, that the organizations image is forever tainted. In the case of Enron, the violations were so unethical that in turned into a national story. That is why distributing your corporate ethics policy from senior leadership down to the rank and file employee is extremely important. These policies will dictate the ethical decisions that will be made by employees, along with their overall personal values.
Organizations are then faced with employees being in situations where they must take the ethic policies they received and apply it accordingly. This is where it gets interesting. In order for the violation to reported appropriately, and without being tainted you must have an effective reporting system in place. In he absence of a process in place to report violations, employee concerns might not make it to the correct person to handle the issue and conduct an unbiased investigation. That is why it is highly recommended to have an ethics reporting line to avoid employees from not reporting their concerns out of fear for a negative action against them.
As you can see in the chart above the ethical process is always ongoing. As a leader or decision maker you have the ability to have an impact on your employees, and to ensure that ethics is a focal point of your organization. You cannot ignore these critical elements, as they are the cornerstones of what corporate integrity is all about.