The focus on business ethics in the workplace is on the increase compared to previous years; clients believe that the companies they interact with should reflect their personal values and beliefs. Companies have become aware of the importance of high ethical standards to their reputation and sustainability of businesses.
Despite the increase in ethics discussions across organizations, there are still reported cases of unethical activities and behaviors across organizations and institutions.
A result of global business ethics survey (GBES) of 2021 released by the Ethics and Compliance Initiative (ECI) highlighted that globally, 29% of employees reported pressure to compromise on standards and 61% of employees globally, reported experiencing retaliation’.
High ethical standards in business boils down to individual decisions when under pressure/ in dilemma or in a state of conflict with culture or biases. Hence, if we all, on individual basis, maintain high moral and ethical standards in the workplace, the more ethical our business will become.
Below, though not exhaustive, is a checklist on ethics that can be applied on personal level to help identify and avoid ethical issues. By all means, feel free to add to the list.
- Misuse of company time
Signals for early identification of this issue include the following:
- Secretive behavior – long hours of personal unofficial phone conversations, constantly visiting meeting rooms for reasons other than meetings
- Late arrivals from lunch breaks
- High increase in number of days absent from work
The following recommendations can help to avoid this issue:
- Understand the acceptable flexibilities in your company’s schedule of activities.
- Share personal issues with your manager and request for reasonable time to deal with the issue.
- Maintain self-discipline in keeping to appointment/meeting/ work schedules.
2. Workplace bullying
Below is a list of signals that help to identify bullying in the workplace:
- People avoid contact with certain leaders or teammates – sometimes, this manifests in lack of attendance of team meetings.
- Complaints of certain team members wielding powers that are not ascribed to their role or position.
To avoid bullying, below recommended actions come handy:
- Assign tasks to team members in line with their roles and responsibilities.
- Encourage team members to freely speak up without fear of victimization.
- Openly discourage retaliations and victimization in the workplace.
- Encourage team collaborations.
Watch out for below signals for potential theft issues:
- Disparity in reported inventory figures.
- People closing late without justifiable reasons.
- Stoppage of issuance of report without authorization.
- Increase in the frequency of urgent tasks or activities.
Implement below actions to avoid occurrence of this issue:
- Secure important items.
- Deploy effective inventory management systems
- Implement fair wage payments for employees
- Install theft deterrent systems/technologies such closed circuit television cameras.
4. Lying/ misrepresentation of facts in reports.
The following provide early warning of potential lying:
- Withholding of details when providing response to queries.
- Omission of key facts in reports without reason.
- Overly detailed reports with information not required.
- Postponing discussions on certain topics.
To reduce lying in the workplace, the following are recommended:
- Encourage open and frank conversations.
- Communicate performance indicators or criteria timely to team members
- In the face of provocative question, always tell the whole truth.
5. Abuse of company internet policies.
Signals for potential occurrence of this issue include:
- Secretive behaviors such as constant close of office doors.
- Unusual patterns in the internet usage
- Long hours on computers without proportionate amount of work done.
This can be reduced by implementing the following actions:
- Use of technologies to monitor and control access to websites.
- Review of information and communication systems usage logs
- Set time for limited personal use of the internet.
Courtesy: Business ethics with McGannon.