In the workplace, ethics are the moral guidelines that an organization as a whole, and the individuals who comprise it, follow to comply with state and federal laws. Ethics also are the basis of cohesive, supportive company culture and an important way for a company to build a strong relationship with its customers. Many companies make their work ethics into marketing points, such as Chipotle advertising that it does not source meat from suppliers that use artificial hormones or antibiotics in their meat production. Similarly, Lush’s commitment to minimizing waste by using recycled materials for its labels and paper packaging is based on their ethics.
In most cases, workplace ethics are derived from secular values like:
In many industries, workplace ethics are derived from laws and industry regulations. In the United States, employers are required to comply with the safety laws enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and anti-discrimination laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The protections these laws offer to employees can be used as a springboard to create workplace ethics, such as:
Workplace ethics are important because they keep all members of an organization accountable for their actions. Maintaining a strong, ethical code creates a sense of security through boundaries for employees. It also enables management to make decisions that benefit the company as a whole while meeting consumer and employee needs.
By creating boundaries for employees at all levels, workplace ethics help employees feel valued. In a workplace with no ethical standards, an employee might feel like she cannot speak to a supervisor about her sexual harassment experience, or as if she has no guidance on how to manage interactions with a difficult customer. Just as in romantic and family relationships, ethics serve to create healthy relationships between colleagues.
Workplace ethics matter outside the workplace, too. In today’s online world, every company is under close public scrutiny. Maintaining ethical standards helps companies maintain strong relationships with consumers by setting precedents in their industries that command respect.
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