Samples Workplace Ethics in the Workplace Essay

Ethics in the Workplace Essay

659 words 3 page(s)

The following essay explores the ideas of morals, ethics, and laws, with a specific focus on business ethics. The diverse practices which enforce and diminish ethical approaches on the organizational level are described. To begin with, a moral is a principle or message that conveys what is right and wrong. It points to a set of behavior standards in a given society or group. As for ethics, this concept can be defined as a practical approach that describes which actions are right and wrong. Lastly, laws are sets of rules which guide the life of a given group of people (a country, a state, or an organization); laws are the most rigid of the three concepts.

On an organizational level, there are certain managerial and leadership behaviors that tend to promote ethical behavior among employees. In particular, Paine (1994) stresses in her article that while some people tend to think that ethics is a matter of individual choice and unethical choices are “the work of a rogue employee”, in fact, “ethics has everything to do with management”. The author explains that unethical business practices usually involve “the tacit, if not explicit, cooperation of others”. Furthermore, these practices are often supported by “the values, attitudes, beliefs, language, and behavioral patterns that define an organization’s operating culture”.

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Henceforth, the organizational culture, managerial approaches, and leadership style which is employed in the company all influence ethical behavior among employees. First and foremost, it is the executive manager’s behavior that creates a role model for others in the organization (Paine, 1994). Secondly, integrity strategies are highly valuable in promoting ethics within the company. Specifically, they entail carefully defining the company’s values, beliefs, corporate culture, aspirations, goals, and patterns, and following through on them on a daily basis. Otherwise, it is highly likely that some employees may drift away from the initial goals and values of the organization. Also, Paine (1994) notes that the goals (e.g., quotas and performance indicators) which are put forward by the managers must be realistic; if they are not, employees may be pushed toward illegitimate behaviors. Lastly, each company should clearly define its organizational ethics approach. Company managers and the corporate council should take part in designing and implementing the organizational integrity strategy.

As it was mentioned earlier, ethical pitfalls in the workplace may include setting extremely high standards which are impossible to follow, causing employees to look for unethical ways. It is important to ensure that the company’s management is guided by moral and ethical principles. Otherwise, the whole corporate strategy may be undermined; moreover, unethical behavior on part of the company management may lead to employee demoralization.

In creating an ethical workplace, it is important to generate a proper Code of Ethics (or Code of Conduct) which will guide the company forward. This document provides guidance to the company’s managers; it is often accompanied by a system of rewards, promotions, and other supporting systems (Waddock, 2007). Finally, it is essential that the company chooses managers who are ethical leaders and are consistently moral in all spheres of life (Brown & Mitchell, 2010). This selection process can be done via special personality tests.

In conclusion, morals, ethics, and laws are different concepts; morals is the most general of them. Yet, all three refer to the ideas of right and wrong. While morals and ethics may differ from one individual to another, on an organizational level, it is highly important that the company has a clear-defined system of ethical values. This system, also called the Code of Ethics, must be upheld by the company’s management on all levels of the organization.

  • Brown, M. E., & Mitchell, M. S. (2010). Ethical and unethical leadership: Exploring new avenues for future research. Business Ethics Quarterly, 20(4), 583-616.
  • Paine, L. S. (1994). Managing for organizational integrity. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from
  • Waddock, S. (2007). Ethical role of the manager. In Encyclopedia of Business Ethics and Society (pp. 786-791). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.