Business Ethics 411: The Basics of Admirable Businesses
No organization wants a scandal or an unethical reputation hanging over its head, so how can companies ensure they’re operating with the highest ethical principles? The guidelines and corresponding action steps presented here will help organizations ensure that they, and all their employees, are acting with outstanding ethics. This, in turn, will help make them an organization to be admired.
Guideline 1: Build ethics awareness throughout the organization via regular communication and discussion of your shared values, operating principles and ethical standards. Action Step: Have you determined your organizational values or does this need to be done? How do/will you make them public?
Guideline 2: Make sure upper management leads by example. Don’t expect employees to perform with integrity if leaders aren’t “walking the talk.” Action Step: What more can your leaders do to visibly demonstrate their commitment to ethics?
Guideline 3: Be an organization that holds ALL people accountable for ethical behavior, and have zero tolerance for violations. Action Step: Check in with people and make sure they know how much an adherence to ethical behavior matters. Have leaders jot down a few specific actions they’ve recently taken (or not taken) that confirm their commitment to ethics and organizational values. Have key employees do the same.
Guideline 4: Use the organization’s stated values to make both large and small decisions – remember that ethics is displayed in everything the organization does…and that everything counts. Action Step: Ask — do employees know they should run all decisions past our list of organizational values? Do they have the tools to do it?
Guideline 5: Encourage leaders to pay close attention to perceptions, feelings, opinions and reactions of colleagues, employees, customers and everyone in their circle of influence. Remind them that perceptions are reality when it comes to integrity. Action Step: Help leaders find new ways to keep abreast of how others see them and the organization on matters of ethics and integrity.
Guideline 6: Take the time and invest in resources to give employees at all levels of the organization the confidence and specific skills they need to translate ethical beliefs into ethical behavior. Action Step: Assess what is currently being done to give employees the ethics skills and awareness they need. Is more training required?
Guideline 7: Ensure policies and procedures at all levels are in-sync with organizational values. Action Step: Request that each manager examine his or her own department from the standpoint of asking: do the rules and standards by which my team members do their jobs each day reflect what the organization strives to be, ethically?
Guideline 8: Focus on steady, incremental change. Action Step: Remember that quick fixes can cause trouble. In the long run, your organization will be more successful with continual small improvements across many key areas; be sure to put together implementation plans and monitor results.
Guideline 9: Hire and promote ethical employees. Action Step: Do a quick review of your hiring and promotion practices and policies. Do they reflect the organization’s stated values and ethical standards?
Guideline 10: Recognize and reward ethical behavior and values-driven actions. Action Step: How can the organization recognize and celebrate those employees who best support the organization’s values?
Business ethics videos are a highly effective way for organizations to teach on this topic. Viewers see right-way and wrong-way examples of ethics in different workplace settings, hear from subject matter experts, and are provided with proven tools for making ethical choices and decisions. With ethics training videos, the organization can provide facilitated classroom training or enable learners to watch the videos on their own, online. Videos generally come with detailed materials for conducting a group training session and/or assessments and quizzes that can be used to measure learning.
CRM Learning’s best-selling Ethics 4 Everyone video features poignant dramatic vignettes along with expert commentary from ethicist and author Eric Harvey. It begins by explaining the importance of knowing what’s right (i.e. remaining aware of laws, organizational rules/procedures, shared values, and what our own conscience is telling us), and then moves on to covering what it takes to consistently do what’s right. A bonus segment just for leaders is included.
Business Ethics in the New Economy will help learners gain an awareness of what is and is not ethical in today’s global marketplace where new types of business situations seem to arise daily. Dr. Marianne Jennings provides guidance on proper actions to be taken, and an explanation of how there is no “grey area” in business ethics. This training program reminds employees that difficult circumstances do not justify unethical behavior.