You have probably heard the word “ethics” thrown around quite a bit, but do you know what ethics are? Ethics are a person or corporations moral philosophy, which involves how a person or business defines and handles right and wrong behavior. A solid ethical foundation is generally based upon human rights, what is fair and what is in the best interest of the workplace (both employer and employee).
Due to the fact that ethics can vary greatly depending on many factors, it can be difficult for a business to determine where the lines are drawn in the sand when it comes to quandaries involving ethical decisions. It is important not to confuse ethics with the law, as some laws may not be in line with what we consider to be ethical. What is ethical can change based on where we work and who we interact with.
Almost all employees will find themselves from time to time in a position where they are being asked to do something that is unethical. If a superior requests a financial report but asks that the numbers be manipulated, it is unethical, especially if you know that finagling the figures will benefit the recipient.
Managers are supervisors are not the only people who can dish out unethical requests and behaviors; colleagues are guilty of the same. Some new employees have reported being asked by more senior staff members to do their assignments or even take tests on their behalf. Of course, because the staff member is new, they feel pressure to be accepted and comply with the requests.
If you are in a position where your ethics or that of your employer comes into question, sit down and have a very frank discussion with the offender or even your Human Resources Department. Chances are, they may not even recognize their own behaviors. Be proactive and take steps towards prevention by educating yourself on workplace ethics.
If you are a job-seeker, it is important for you to know whom you are working for when you are seeking employment. Do research on the companies where you have applied and make sure you are asking questions.
Ask about the work environment, where the company sees itself in 5 years, and what the turnover rate is like. It is just as important for a recruiter to learn about its potential employees, as it is for to determine if the company will be a good fit for you.