Managing Ethics in the Workplace

Essay by VictoryCollege, Undergraduate April 2004

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When ethics management is done right, it accomplishes more than just improving ethical behavior on some issues. Ethics management addresses the underlying root causes of unethical behavior. Since things that cause unethical behavior also constrain organizational performance, solving internal ethical issues directly benefits operating performance as well. Ethics, utility and successful human interaction is closely interrelated. In fact they are so closely interrelated it may be impossible to consider either one in isolation of the other two. Therefore, in order for any of these factors to improve, they must all improve, and if any do not improve, chances are neither really improved.

Managing Ethics in the Workplace

Ethics Management, when carried out accurately, is an inclusive program that continuously improves fundamental ethics processes (thinking and behavior patterns), not just visible issues and ethics policies. Many organizations spend tremendous amounts of money on training and quality improvement initiatives from Total Quality Management and International Organization for Standardization to Six Sigma, along with many other programs as well, without ever addressing the leading constraints to quality or performance improvement, which are ethics failures within the operating culture.

After the result is gathered from a new technology or process all that is left to improve is the people themselves. But people are more than just a collection of capabilities and skills. People are also a "people system"1 with a process capability of their own. This people system is also referred to as the organizational culture or the social system of the company (G.R. Weaver; M. Evans, 2001).

Organizational culture is so powerful that it basically has more of an effect than management regarding what, where, and when things get improved. Therefore the key to significant improvement has been and always will be the supportive capability of the culture to manage the...