Steps to Take to Be Ethical in the Workplace

Dealing with clients honestly creates trust in the workplace.

Dealing with clients honestly creates trust in the workplace.

Striving to be ethical in the workplace isn't always easy, especially if your co-workers cut corners or take advantage of opportunities to unfairly move ahead. If you want to pursue integrity in the work arena, you must set your heart and mind to do so before temptations distract you and pull you away from your goals. Maintain an ethical approach to your work responsibilities and make sure your interactions with co-workers and clients are always above-board to take the first step toward workplace integrity.

Conduct Honest Business

Getting overwhelmed by your work responsibilities might cause you to consider fudging a number or two to get the project done. Or, you might promise your boss that you'll meet a deadline even though you know it's impossible. An important step to upholding your ethical standards is to deal with people honestly. Don't promise a customer something you can't provide, commit to a time line you can't meet or create a financial report that has errors or miscalculations. Honesty isn't always the most convenient response to difficult workplace situations, but it eventually builds trust. Even if it's bad news, your boss, co-workers and clients will appreciate your open and transparent approach. Dishonest communication often leads to dissension and conflict.

Maintain Appropriate Relationships

Maintaining appropriate relationships with your boss, co-workers, patients and clients is an important step toward ethical behavior in the workplace. Gossiping, flirting, belittling, making sexual comments, seducing or telling racial jokes leads to problems at work. Treat those you work with respectfully and refuse to engage in inappropriate behavior to showcase your high ethical standards. You don't want to be the woman who's known for getting drunk at the annual Christmas party or the one who's labeled the office flirt. Showing integrity in workplace relationships enhances your credibility as a professional employee and helps to ure that you aren't part of any scandalous situations.

Avoid Bullying

Bullying isn't only a texting concern or unruly high school banter -- it's a problem that also affects adults in work environments. According to the website Workplace Ethics Advice, workplace bullying consists of actions intended to intimidate, degrade, humiliate or undermine, and it leads to physical and emotional stress and often results from the misuse of power. Being ethical in the workplace means you won't participate in any type of bullying behavior, even if your co-workers pressure you to do so. Sometimes, it's hard to find the fine line between teasing and bullying, so if you have any question as to whether something you do could be misconstrued -- don't do it. Kind words, thoughtful actions and tactful jokes might seem like old fuddy-duddy standards, but they'll keep you from being liable for bullying behavior.

Report Misconduct

Nobody likes a tattletale, but ypu must report violations and misconduct if you want to take strides toward integrity in the workplace. Telling your boss about a co-worker's questionable behavior or reporting company policy violations might put your workplace relationships at risk, but the ethical thing isn't always the easiest. According to the Ethics Resource Center President's blog, numbers show that more than one in five employees who blow the whistle on rules violations say they experienced some type of payback in return. Work isn't a popularity contest, so your willingness to step up and do what's right might make a difference in your company's long-term survival and public image. Reporting misconduct must always be unbiased and not self-serving.

 

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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