Developing a Code of Ethics
Every successful organization should have a code of ethics that helps to unite groups of people in all departments of an organization around the same values and ideals. Executives of a company should also respect a code of ethics as well, since it is well integrated in all structural integrities of the company. The aim of this paper is to develop a code of ethics of some company in the core ethical framework, according to our values and beliefs that will not change with time, but will serve for the common integrity and success for the long run.
A code of ethics is a subject to study for many researchers. For instance, Glenn Lambert points out that the common mistake in developing and following the code of ethics is to get involved in practical application of the visible and formal elements instead of promoting moral values among colleagues. For example, according to the researcher, many companies do not have a code of ethics at all, but focused on “worthless and arbitrary issues dictated by the executive” (Lambert, 2009). These may be motivational posters on the walls, well-designed and framed license documents, printed philosophy and policy statements, or award certificates. However, these formal documents, even if adjusted to the informal style, are not sufficient without any developed code of ethics for an organization. Many companies, having “no ideas of the importance and value of such a code” (Lambert, 2009), hope for success, but they fail. The reason is the lack of integrity among all employees. The Chinese proverb says that “to starve to death is a small thing, but to lose one’s integrity is a great one” (Lambert, 2009). If colleagues have no code of ethics, they will have no motivation to work on success; their work will not be as effective as it is desired. Moral values unite people and give them the stimulus to work and exceed expectations.
General George S. Patton said that “moral courage is the most absent characteristic in men” (cited in Lambert, 2009), so people need a code of ethics in order to develop activities in the right way so that an organization can reach success. Surely, such a code needs practical application, and since it is implemented, every employee should review it at least once per year in order to decide if his/her activities are complementary to a company’s code of ethics.
What are the values of the code? For our organization, we will choose the values that cannot be changed with time or circumstances, but will fulfill internal and external demands in the reference to the company. These can be the following practical moral values:
- Be fair
- Obey the law
- Respect others
- Be honest
- Protect the positive environment within the organization.
Practically, such values are the best choice for every company that is aimed to succeed in the long-term perspective. However, the common thought in our society is that major investors demand quick return or their capitals, since they invested in a company. Truly, wise and experienced investors realize that the most important is to invest in a company that shows the consistent growth. A code of ethics encourages people to work for the stability of the situation within a company, so investors will be aware that their capitals are secured for getting rewards in the long-term perspective.
Practical application of the code of ethics includes setting “the tone or standard” and “developing the ethical conscience of all our people” (Lambert, 2009). It is related to the following features that should be adjusted and set up practically:
- Consistent leadership
- Continual training
- Creating an open climate and positive atmosphere within an organization
- Providing rewards for ethical behavior.
A code of ethics is important for all chains of an organization, including managers, employees, executives, stakeholders, suppliers, etc. For all of them, the code matters much to develop values of various character, but related to one purpose of success of the company. The mission statement is not enough when considering regulations and the code of ethics is the broad conception designed in order to fulfill the long-term needs.
However, some of the researchers show the skeptical attitude to reformatting the moral values and setting them into a code. For instance, in their book Moral Intelligence Lennick and Fred Kiel “seem to disagree, commenting that most of us know right from wrong and that it is the rare occasion where straying takes place” (cited in Lambert, 2009). However, in many organizations, there is a lack of experience in applying ethical standards practically, especially when related to leaders. According to Johnson (2012), some “leaders cast shadows over their organizations and beyond” if they do the following mistakes: “abuse power; hoard privileges; mismanage information; act inconsistently; misplace or betray loyalties; fail to assume responsibilities” (Johnson, 2012). And although this list is still incomplete, the reason of such mistakes is simple – the lack of moral values and the absence of the code of ethics within an organization. Ignoring the needs of people and neglect the ethical standards may lead to serious consequences and issues with loss of trust, respect, and work potential.
Violating moral values is unethical in each aspect. For example, being unfair is a step aside from the common good, as it may lead to lost in respect between colleagues; disobey the law (for example, not pay taxes) will lead to the lack of trust between state and a company; lack in respect and honesty means violating an individual search for truth; and not protecting the positive environment within an organization will lead to disintegration between colleagues. On the contrary, when people respect and trust each other, they are ready to perform all set tasks in order to work efficiently to succeed.
Psychologist Gordon Allport (cited in Johnson, 2012) identified six major value types in orientation to moral and religious elements that can be a significant part of the code of ethics. These are the following groups of values:
- This group is related to seeking the truth by an individual, commonly in a cognitive way.
- This group shows practical values that can be implemented by means of adjusting to a business context. The example is the so called “American Dream” that is typical for an average U.S. citizen, practically implemented for American businessmen.
- The group shows the values encouraging the harmony between people and nature, between the society and an individual. According to Allport, life is a series of events that people can enjoy each day.
- The values of social type reflect love for people and among people that are united in social groups according to their social roles.
- This group of values is related to the desire for power.
- The values of religious nature reflect the inner world of an individual in relation to their beliefs in higher substance that are not measured only by mystical experiences, but ethically grounded to prove their love to people around. World can be perceived as the unified in the context of religious values.
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Therefore, our core ethical framework beliefs are corresponding with the complex of values stated by Allport. For example, the values of being honest and fair are related to the theoretical group of values with their major conception of truth, love and care about other people. The value of respect towards others is related to the social group of values. Obeying the law is considered to be rather social than political category, as it matters much for the development of the society and its norms, rather than fulfilling the needs of economic and political nature. By the way, protecting the positive environment within our organization belongs to the social category of values stated by Allport. So, the majority of values in the code of ethics for our organization belong to the social group of values. In relation to this, the ethical framework for our organization is people oriented. The notions of trust, respect, care, and love within the company is the key factor to success of the company in the long-term perspective.
Surely, the code of ethics with the principles listed above should be implemented practically in relation to the close adaptation to the common norms of the adaptive capacity. It can be expanded by means of providing social guarantees for each employee in the ethical frameworks of the code. The implementation of the code goes beyond the limits of the standardized rules, and it can be expanded by means of motivational instruments for all those who are destined to fulfill the principles of the code of ethics. They can be motivated to accept the code in concretely stated details, but the most important is the understanding between people as they belong to the one social group. Their adaptation to the norms of the code of ethics is the hard process, but success is not limited to the rules and exceeds them to recommendations of how to solve current problems, communicate with each other, deal with conflicts, trust and respect each other.
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