Each day, we encounter problems and situations which require us to make sound ethical and moral decisions. Wikipedia basically defines business ethics as ethical principles and problems that may arise in the business environment that may impact both individuals and the organization. It is often so tempting to do something so that you can gain an advantage as an individual.
Keep in mind, that not all employees are really equal on moral development. We would like to think that just because we have training in our human resource department and just because they perform good quality work, that everyone is moral and ethical in their behavior. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The experts in organizational behavior have indicated that in incentive plans, not all employees are evaluated equally. Why is that? Well, what motivates one employee may not motivate another. Without appropriate incentive programs defined to meet the unique motivational criteria of employees, then you run the risk of individuals looking to gain advantages through unethical behavior.
How can you combat that issue? Corporate scandals and the lessons they provide have not really been learned by everyone so far. Plus, many lessons are still being interpreted and the implications they have had on the industry and the economy are not yet known. For the most part, management still seems to circumvent any responsibility and they blame employees. Employees still blame management. Regardless of all the finger pointing though, companies must learn to tap into the real problem, a structural change within the company.
Typically, companies will implement a policy and simply assume that everyone will follow it. NO! Companies must begin to adjust the structure and culture of the company. By altering the structure of the company, this will create a lasting framework and foundation for long term sustainability. Initially, the company will have employee resistance — as we know, people do not really like change. Executives will tend to send a message and the subordinates will interpret the message how they want.
So in order to adjust your culture, here a few things to get you started:
- Change must come from top down and be exhibited by the CEO/president.
- Get rid of the bad apples.
- CEOs are notoriously known for having extreme pay levels that are not warranted for their industry and do not promote a positive culture.
- Get regular audits.
Business ethics, whether you are a large, medium, or small company, are ever changing. The subject matter is gray and requires constant attention. And remember, people like to do business with companies they feel good about.