Why Do Organizations Have a Code of Ethics?

Business ethics are the guidelines a company has in place to follow when interacting with internal and external sources, with the purpose being to impact the way in which they do business. It also means that all professionals will be held to the same standard, as it’s something the organisation’s core values and principles are based on. It is beneficial to ensure that everyone involved are treated with respect, and to create a working environment that’s as positive as possible. By having a code of ethics, a business is presenting themselves as having a unified attitude and would be seen as behaving with integrity.

Businesses adopting a code of ethics will create a stronger environment of trust and integrity within the workplace. It is helpful when all employees, including management, are following the same rules and behaving in a certain way because it means most conflicts will be removed from the workplace, therefore allowing productivity to increase. With this kind of work environment, individual employees will feel more able to share their opinions and contribute fully to the wider team. Employees will also feel less confused, as they will be following clear practices and confidence will grow as a result. Employees will be of a more caring nature and will promote constructive social change because of the positive way they behave at  work, which will continue to benefit the community they are part of. If all employees are treated with a high level of respect, potential employees will feel it is an attractive workplace and confident they won’t face discrimination, intimidation, bullying, or harassment. This means when a job is advertised at the company, there will be many applicants to select from, so the new chosen employee will be of a high standard. The reputation of a company is important to customers, and it will be more appealing if they feel one is trustworthy with a strong code of ethics. This will also enhance the relationship with external partners and suppliers, as they will be more comfortable working with a business with a great reputation because it reduces the risk that something might go wrong.

A code of ethics can first be developed with management thinking about the personal values they hold, and the way in which they treat others and like to be treated themselves. It could be useful for a group of employees to also do this, whilst considering what the company values are. They could think about problems which have occurred in the past, and the way in which they were dealt with to evaluate how they’d like to treat people. It is also important to determine the areas that the code needs to include to be most useful and relevant to that particular organisation. It would be helpful to view examples of codes of practice from a few other companies, particularly similar ones, to get an idea of the content and language used. The code can then be written based on the collective ideas, which also needs to include any penalties for violations. Employees can then sign to confirm they agree to it and this can be made available as part of the employment contact. The code should be reviewed at regular intervals to ensure it is still relevant and is being the most beneficial that it can be.

A code of ethics is not able to prevent unethical behavior by employees, but it will impact the decisions they make. They will be aware that if they take a particular course of action when carrying out their work, it will lead to a violation which carries a punishment. It is then up to them to decide whether they still want to proceed or not. In many situations, it would be unlikely that an employee would risk being reprimanded, so having a code of ethics in place acts as a deterrent. Based on this, it can positively influence behavior and make the employee behave in a way which is compliant to the rules of the company. Following ethics means that everyone within the company knows what they should be doing within their roles for the work they are carrying out, and the processes they must follow at all levels of the business.

In terms of the impact ethical codes have on professional practice, employees who are ethical are trustworthy, respectful and take responsibility for their actions in their working practice. A company could assess the ethics of potential new staff members by asking behavioral based questions in the interview, which would give interviewers more of an idea of their character. Not only will professional practice benefit from having a set of ethics in place, but employees will act as ambassadors for the company outside of work and in the local area. They will also keep confidential information private and will protect the company as much as possible. A team of staff who have a strong code of ethics will help to build a stronger, more productive team, and the workplace will be happier overall.

Ethical codes can only be effective if they are visible enough within the company for employees to have them mind in their day to day work. Training should also be provided to ensure everybody knows the procedures they must follow, and to also help with understanding the seriousness of ethics to help them become engrained in the culture of the business. To give ethical codes meaning, a company must be willing to enforce it and therefore reprimand staff who breach it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *