Getting Business Ethics Right

Employees are more aware of business ethics and how they work inside the office and the company as a whole. In fact, they are more likely to report a wrongdoing than they were in previous years, even if some form of retaliation might be coming.

Employees also felt like they had to compromise their own standards in order to do their job or keep their job, and a nearly half of them report weakening standards by co-workers and management.

Employees Often Have Higher Standards than Businesses

Let’s take into consideration that most employees have been raised with better ethical standards than most companies list in their Employee Handbooks. Children are raised knowing it is wrong to lie and steal, be mean to another person, harass someone, or ignore something alarming. These are more or less the same things mentioned in an Employee Handbook.

The Josephson Institute of Business Ethics and Leadership reports that:

  • 45% of employees said they witnessed misconduct at work
  • 65% said they reported the misconduct they saw
  • 22% of those who said they reported misconduct claim they experi¬≠enced some form of retaliation in return
  • 13% said they felt pressured to compromise standards in order to do their jobs
  • 42% described the ethical culture of their company as weak

It is positive that more than half of the people in the survey reported misconduct they saw. However, in order to get business ethics right for employees and company, workers should not be asked or required to lower their personal standards. Nor should they feel like their jobs are threatened or some other form of retaliation is forthcoming. According to the National Business Ethics Survey, ethics are at an all-time low. They were lower in the year 2000. Some can play the partisan game of blame the President vs. blame the conservatives, but the bottom line is if it doesn’t look right, sound right or feel right, it is not right and should be reported. It is the same whether the company is a large corporation or a small business.

Getting It Right

The easiest way to get business ethics right is to practice ethically:

Business owners: Practice what you preach. You are expected to follow the same guidelines that you give your staff. They will follow them and report something that is not right and expect to carry on doing their job without adverse reaction from the person they reported it to or about someone they reported. They expect something to be done even if the person they reported is your friend or someone who makes money for you. Ethics are ethics. Practice what you preach.

Employees: Always be absolutely sure of the wrong doing before reporting it. If it was something that was mentioned to you, it is hearsay and doesn’t mean much. If you saw it, heard it or felt it, report it. If you are fired over it, there are legal recourses and the law is on your side.