The nature of ethics involves doing the right thing. Philosophers can argue all day about what that exactly means. At work, there is no debate. Ethics codes and policies define right and wrong behaviors and prohibit actions that can harm individuals, companies or communities. By following your company’s ethics policies you can avoid causing harm to others – and be a better person as a result.
You and your colleagues have moral compasses that guide your decisions and actions. Ethics policies and training help you to adjust or calibrate your compass to address work situations. When everyone’s compass points in the same direction, you work together toward common goals. A collaborative and positive environment makes it possible to accomplish things faster and better. Working toward the common good helps eliminate the selfishness that can cause problems for the community.
Strength in Numbers
A company culture based on common goals and morality tends to isolate those who are inclined to challenge the system. Since there really is strength in numbers, unethical behaviors will become more apparent and violators will understand that their actions will not be tolerated. If your workplace culture is still a work in progress, just do the right thing yourself. Follow company policy and report unacceptable behaviors whenever you witness them.
The Ethical Leader
Managers and executives play a critical role in helping to calibrate an organization's moral compass. They lead by example, whether they intend to or not. Ethical leaders will prompt employees to make ethical decisions and respond to situations appropriately. Ethical management practices make leaders better people and, by extension, those whom they supervise.
Teamwork and Ethics
Employees should always promote the overall success of their team. Having the integrity to credit your colleagues for their contributions helps to establish an atmosphere of openness and information sharing, and helps you to build better relationships. Colleagues will want to work with you on future projects, and managers might begin to see your leadership potential. You not only become a better person, but you lead by example and encourage the same behavior among your colleagues.
A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.