Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ethical Behavior At Work

Ethical behavior means different things to different people. In the workplace it is basically whatever is considered right or wrong behavior effecting the organization’s products and services. Attention to business ethics is critical during times of fundamental change, such as those now faced by many organizations. In times of fundamental change, values that were previously taken for granted may be strongly questioned or not followed at all. Attention to ethical behavior sensitizes leaders and staff as to how they should act, both day-to-day and especially in times of crises and confusion.

Some organizations are better at encouraging ethical behavior than others. A few characteristics of these highly ethical organizations include:

1. Presence of a clear ethical vision; members at any level can generally describe what it means to have integrity.
2. The ethical vision is owned and embodied by senior leadership over a sustained period of time. 3. The reward system is aligned with the vision of integrity. Pay and incentives encourage employees to “do right.”
4. Policies and practices are aligned with the vision; no mixed messages.
5. It is understood that every significant management decision has ethical value.
6. Everyone is expected to work through questions in light of the ethical vision.

Watch this space for reasons why it helps to pay attention to ethical behavior in the workplace and what to do when you do not like what you see.