Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

1.4. Explore the code of ethics / conduct to find values and attitudes

ryanrori February 7, 2021

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Organisational Values

Simply put, ethics involves learning what is right or wrong, and then doing the right thing but “the right thing” is not nearly as straightforward as conveyed in a great deal of business ethics literature. Most ethical dilemmas in the workplace are not simply a matter of “Should Bob steal from Jack?” or “Should Jack lie to his boss?” 

The values of an organisation are used to indicate the type of conduct: 

  • Required by employees when carrying out the operations of the organisation
  • That customers can expect from the organisation

Organisational values often cover the following areas: 

  • Compliance with legislation
  • Employment of staff
  • Customer service
  • Receiving gifts from suppliers and customers
  • Giving gifts to customers
  • Discrimination in the workplace Employee integrity
  • Employee privacy
  • Quality standards of products and services
Examples of Organisational Values set for a Customer contact Centre

1. Employees will act with honesty and integrity when dealing with customers, suppliers, government agencies and fellow employees. At all times employees will endeavor to act in such a way that others are treated with respect and dignity.
2. Employees will never directly or indirectly engage in theft, fraud or embezzlement. No employee will participate in fraudulent or deceptive activities towards the organisation, customers, suppliers or any other party with whom the organisation has business dealings. 
3. Company policy prohibits unlawful discrimination against employees or customers based on their race, gender, religious or ethnic background.
4. The organisation will observe all laws and regulations governing business activity.

The importance of values in the organisation

According to Robbins (p 174), values are important to the study of organisational behaviour, because they “lay the foundation for the understanding of attitudes and motivation and because they influence our perceptions, our attitudes and behaviour.”  If our values are not aligned to the prevailing culture within the organisation, we can experience job dissatisfaction and lack of motivation.

When staff buys in to and pursue the mission and vision of the organisation, their behaviours and practices will reflect the values of the organisation. Let us say the stated values of the organisation are also respect, fairness and excellence. Then staff behaviour will be characterised by: 

Respect for others, i.e. 

  • acknowledgment of cultural, gender and occupational differences 
  • professional and ethical behaviour 
  • consultation with staff on issues which have an impact on their work or career 
  • treating others at all times with dignity

Fairness, i.e. 

  • consistent and fair treatment of staff in similar circumstances 
  • clear and consistent application of merit principles in recruitment and advancement 
  • the belief that everyone has a right to be heard

Excellence, i.e. 

  • excellence is rewarded 
  • staff are encouraged to learn and to develop 
  • success is affirmed and celebrated 
  • staff are encouraged to provide high quality service and to achieve continuous improvement

When organisations set values, they do so based on the ethics that they hold to be important.

Ethics

In our personal lives, ethics provide an indication of what is right and wrong. We all have an ethical framework that we operate within. This ethical framework is influenced by a number of factors, such as laws, religious beliefs and socially acceptable standards of behaviour. 

Organisations can also be regarded as operating within an ethical framework that establishes what is right and what is wrong in terms of how they operate. 

The following influences help determine the ethics of an organisation:

  • Government laws and regulations
  • Standards set by professional organisations
  • Customers’ standards and values

Benefits of business ethics

When organisations and employees operate in an ethical manner, there are: 

  • Benefits to the Organisation:

When an organisation and its employees act in an ethical manner the following benefits to the organisation may occur: 

  • A strong company image. As society places more emphasis on the ethics of the business world, it is important that an organisation operate according to the standards that society deems acceptable.
  • Improved quality of products and services. When employees act ethically, they are more likely to ensure that their work meets the quality standards expected by the organisation. 
  • Criminal acts are reduced. When employees operate ethically, criminal activity is eliminated. Criminal activity can range from taking stationery items home to being involved in defrauding the company.
  • Increased company profits. Whilst increased company profits are not a reason for acting ethically, they are a possible benefit. When customers view an organisation as being ethical they are more likely to choose to deal with that organisation.
  • Benefits to Society:

When organisations act ethically, society benefits in the following ways: 

  • Customers are dealt with honestly and fairly. Unscrupulous behaviour towards customers is eliminated and customers receive a higher standard of service when an organisation acts ethically.
  • The natural environment is dealt with in a more acceptable manner. Although legislation exists to strictly control how organisations treat the environment these controls only work if an organisation acts ethically and operates within the legislation at all times.
  • Employees receive fair reward and treatment. Ethical organisations ensure that employees are rewarded fairly in line with government legislation, such as a minimum wage, and that employees are treated fairly when being employed or during disciplinary procedures.
  • Employees are free from discrimination. Ethical organisations have policies and procedures in place to ensure that all employees understand acceptable behaviour in terms of discrimination and that instances of discrimination can be identified and dealt with fairly.
Code of Ethics/Code of Conduct

A code of ethics is a formal document outlining the standards and values that an organisation intends to abide by. The code of ethics provides an indication of the type of behaviour that: 

  • Employees are expected to follow when carrying out the operations of the organisation.
  • Customers and other organisations can expect when dealing with the organisation

Examples of topics that are usually addressed by codes of conduct:

  • Preferred style of dress
  • Avoiding illegal drugs
  • Following instructions of superiors
  • Being reliable and prompt
  • Maintaining confidentiality
  • Not accepting personal gifts from stakeholders
  • Avoiding racial or sexual discrimination
  • Avoiding conflict of interest
  • Complying with laws and regulations
  • Not using the business’s property for personal use
  • Not discriminating against race or age or sexual orientation
  • Reporting illegal or questionable activity