Organizational Ethics Article Overview

An ethics program is an indicator of what senior managers view as a priority and how they wish to conduct business. Ethics are a corporate value that begins at the top and trickles throughout the organization.

What Will this Article do for Me?

  • Learn how to start an ethics program
  • Obtain commitment from the top
  • How to develop a code of ethics
  • Take action on implementing ethics training and an ethics audit.

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Why Organizational Ethics?

Ethics has been considered to be an element of organizational culture often described as the moral climate within the organization. After recent and ongoing business scandals (Enron, WorldCom, etc.) where senior leaders did not make ethical choices, the federal government ended up mandating regulations (Sarbanes-Oxley for example) to regulate the morale climate

Enforced regulations are not a component of an effective organizational ethics program.

The decline in community and employee trust has led business owners to rethink and reevaluate exactly what their responsibilities are when it comes to ethical decision-making. In the future, those business owners that incorporate business ethics as a part of their strategy will become sustainable, viable, productive organizations.

The Gap in Ethics

Dr. Whitaker’s research indicates senior leader view themselves as being ethical. In contrast, front line employees have differences in their perceptions of senior leadership. Because employees are fearful to speak up and clarify what specific areas they believe are unethical, the gap grows larger and impacts organizational growth. Employee fear is created within the organization based on the perception that if employees speak the truth, they will impact the security of their job and receive personal repercussions.

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Components of the Ethics Process

In this article, you will gain information on a step-by-step process for developing and maintaining and effective organizational ethics program. The process includes:

  • Defining your organization’s strategy to managing ethics
  • Obtaining commitment to an ethics program from senior leaders
  • Determining roles and responsibilities of members within an ethics committee
  • Writing a Code of Ethics
  • Managing the process of communication
  • How to instill accountability
  • Why you should have an ethics audit.
  • Where ethics training applies to the ethics program

Real examples from Southwest Airlines, W. L. Gore, and Nike are provided throughout Dr. Whitaker’s research. Read in this article how these companies feel about an ethics program and how it correlates with organizational profitability.

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Ron Whitaker
Ron is an accomplished entrepreneur involved in developing multiple businesses from the ground up. He is the co-founder of About Leaders, an author, and a start up consultant and investor. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.