Standards of Ethics and Integrity at Hewlett-Packard Company

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Standards of Ethics and Integrity at Hewlett-Packard Company Sample Essay

Hewlett-Packard (HP) is a global information technology company, “which portfolio spans software, personal computing, IT infrastructure and printing” ( Hewlett-Packard Company, 2011). According to Hewlett-Packard Company (2011), its standards of ethics and integrity are underlined in its Standards of Business Conduct (SBC). SBC covers HP employees and all stakeholders that represent the company. In other words, both employees and leaders are required to act consistently with the SBC. HP’s SBC is built on the company’s corporate objectives and shared values. Hewlett-Packard Company (2011) noted that its mutual values include uncompromising integrity, trust and respect for people, meaningful innovation, results through teamwork ( Hewlett-Packard Company, 2011). The company’s corporate objectives are commitment to employees, growth, customer loyalty, profit, market leadership and global citizenship ( Hewlett-Packard Company, 2011). Further, there are additional rules and policies to be followed and enforced within the company. Moreover, there are other guidance in form of keys to success and scenario ( Hewlett-Packard Company, 2011).

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Ethics is the principles and values that shape the behavior or individuals or entities in reference to their roles and responsibilities. For an organization such as HP, these values and principles are managed through predefined code of ethics. HP’s Standards of Business Conduct (SBC) is a written code of conduct concerning the principles and values of the company. SBC guides the HP fraternity on the company’s responsibility to is stakeholders. Hewlett-Packard has built trust by handling stakeholders with fairness, respect and integrity ( Hewlett-Packard Company, 2011). These values are demonstrated in its operations and all its interactions. To HP, organizational ethics and uncompromising integrity means being honest, transparent and ethical in its operations and interactions. Integrity standards are preserved by wise use of assets (IT policy set), whereas conflict of interest is avoided through the Conflict of interest Policy. Additionally, the company maintains accurate business records through Records Management Policy and Accounting and Finance Manual ( Hewlett-Packard Company, 2011). HP’s Confidential Information Policy protects sensitive information ( Hewlett-Packard Company, 2011). In the same context, HP uses Insider trading policy and Confidential information policy to avoid trading or disclosure of private information.

Shaping Ethical Climate

A strong ethical climate is a system of informal rules concerning the stakeholders’ behavior in internal or external environments (Johannesen, Valde, & Whedbee, 2008). In such an environment, organizational leaders take the initiative to shape or support the ethical environment. Ethical climate corresponds to organizational personality, which has a direct impact on both organizational success and employee satisfaction (Johnson, 2012). Ethical climate represents common values and beliefs that hold an organization intact (Johannesen, Valde, & Whedbee, 2008). Given that employee and customer dissatisfaction are some of the causes of turnover and loss of trust respectively, leaders at all levels of an entity must be aware of their predefined roles and responsibilities in preserving an ethical workplace setting that can improve both customer experience and employee satisfaction. While most managers or organizational leaders recognize the significance of ethical climate in customer and employee satisfaction, some fail to realize the direct impact they have is shaping it. Therefore, shaping ethical climate is one of the critical tasks of organizational leaders because the process entails turning trust and trustworthiness, mentorship, consistency, delegation, and empowerment into positive ethical traits. Moreover, shaping an ethical climate is an important aspects for leaders because they must be cautious when making decisions and  ensuring that equitability and fairness exist within their organizations and the ethical standards are preserved (Ghosh, 2008).

In essence, ethical climate necessitate the general personality of an organization. It focuses on perceptions, ethics-related attitudes and decision-making processes in the subject organization. In other words, ethical climate is the psychological perception of on an organization. Therefore, leaders concentrate on shaping ethical climate because organizational structures developed from an ethical climate encourage ethical behavior (Johannesen, Valde, & Whedbee, 2008). Specifically, ethical climate influences employee satisfaction, organizational expenses, employees’ perception of leadership and employee’s organizational commitment.

Steps that Leaders Can Take to Prevent and Control Destructive Behaviors

Conflict is inevitable in any organization. Employees argue, departments lock horns, and ideas clash. Some forms of conflict induce creativity (Einarsen, Aasland, & Skogstad, 2007). However, in most scenarios, conflict causes poor performance and discontent, which catalyzes disaster in a working environment. Some of these destructive conflicts emerge from destructive employees. According to Einarsen, Aasland, and Skogstad (2007), destructive employees are individuals whose behavior violates the values and principles of an ethical or cultural climate. Additionally, other employees are manipulated to propagate the agendas of destructive employees. Despite the fact that not all destructive behaviors can be avoided, leaders may use the following steps to prevent and manage such behaviors.

  1. Communicate well. It entails getting feedback from other employees to determine if the underlying preconceptions are correct.
  2. Listen better and focus on facts and not on the destructive employees
  3. Create healthy boundaries through Job Descriptions. |It would ensure that destructive employees are restricted access to other leaders
  4. Create behavioral consequences alongside reward systems and
  5. Use professional consultants when hiring or promoting employees. It can help prevent hiring destructive employees.

These steps are not stringent and specific to any organization. Hence, leaders should strive to create an exhaustive procedure of managing destructive behavior based on their cultural and ethical environments.

Difference between Organizational Compliance and Organizational Integrity

Similarly to any other organization, HP is subject to various laws and regulations that govern its conduct. For instance, there are rules and regulations that govern health and safety at HP workplace as well as rules that govern the relationship between employees. It is illegal for a company to produce substandard or unsecured hardware and software products in its effort to cut operational costs. A compliance-based code of ethics is designed to address such legal requirements. In essence, organizational compliance is a paradigm developed to ensure that organizations and their stakeholders comply with the predefined laws and regulations in an accepted manner (Johannesen, Valde, & Whedbee, 2008). The key aspects of organizational compliance include prevention, detection, and punishment of non-compliant behavior. For example, telephone call can be monitored to ensure that sales representative comply with the code of ethics, those who fail to do so are punished. HP complies with laws governing international trade through Standard 014-0: safe and legal products and Global trade policies ( Hewlett-Packard Company, 2011). It is worth noting that there is a thin line between what is legal and what is ethical. Based on these premises, it can be inferred that compliance-based organizations may encourage the idea of ethical behavior.

On the other hand, organizational integrity is an ethical concept that focuses on results or actions that should be achieved. Unlike organizational compliance, organizational ethics fosters autonomy or independent thought. Organizational integrity covers not only the rules that prohibit illegal actions but also emphasizes ethics (Johannesen, Valde, & Whedbee, 2008). In an integrity-based system, the management sets values that the organization and employees aspires such as passion for customer, uncompromising integrity, and trust and respect for people. Organizational integrity empowers employees to be ethical agents. The emphasis is on what the organization can attain rather that the fashion in which is it is attained. For example, HP focuses on encouraging ethical behavior rather than concentration on punishing monitored errors.

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Integral Elements of the Effort to Improve Organizational Integrity

By inferring from the success of Hewlett-Packard, the integral elements of improving organizational integrity are openness, accuracy and honesty. These elements can be achieved through various ways. For example, HP does not provide or offer kickbacks or bribes to influence business decisions or to win business tenders. Hewlett-Packard Company, (2011) noted that its distributors and agents were outsourced only after they have met the company’s due diligence process.

Healy (2007) defined cultural relativism is the idea that the beliefs ethics and custom of an individual or organization should be understood within that individual or organizational cultural and ethical climate. Cultural values and norms derive their significance within a specific context. From a personal point of view, ethical climate shaping as a modern business imperative should embrace cultural relativism. Thus, businesses are unique in terms of culture, structure, and size (Healy, 2007). Regardless of many similarities, entities continue to evolve and as they embrace globalization trends, they will either preserve their culture or adopt appropriately to stay competitive.