Ethics Management Programs

Ethics Management Programs are designed by an organisation or an employer as an attempt to have formalised structures for ensuring the organisation is perceived as fair, honest, responsible and just.

Ethical programs globally are designed keeping four things in mind:

  • Considering oneself and the organisation as part of the larger social framework.
  • Considering the development and welfare of others (internal and external customers) to the extent possible.
  • Respecting the traditions/rituals (organisational diversity) of others.
  • Evaluating a situation objectively and the consequences thereof.

Many of you may ask why we need ethics management programs when you already have policies and procedures in place that define behavioural standards. Ethics programs are designed to ensure that there is no deviation from the standards laid down and also to ensure that employees are fair and honest in their conduct to the organisation.

The benefits of ethics programs include decreased misconduct and additional defence to the organisation against complaints from the employees, when the latter perceives that the organisation is being unjust to him/her. However in order for the ethics programs to be successful managerial support and role modelling is very important. In fact there is a whole body of research that proves that organisations are increasingly documenting their ethics programs to align behaviours within the organisation and also going ahead to develop systems for implementation of the same.

Implementation of ethics programs is a clear example of organisations being very clear in communicating what they expect of the employee relationships. Many organisations have adopted innovative ways of communicating and continuously reminding employees what is expected. Lockheed Martin, for example, distributes a calendar and a computer screen saver outlining the organisations 12 building blocks of trust! Texas instruments, similarly uses training programs and distributes a 14 page booklet to convey the standards for ethical behaviour.

We thus see that honesty, fairness and ethics programs are prerequisites to the employment relationship. There are other actions also that help better the employment relationships. Certain actions are possible at the time of entry like flexible work arrangements (flexitime, job sharing, compressed work weeks), induction and orientation that are very convenient means of conveying the ethical policies.

Ethics programs thus benefit organisations in many ways, one they help lay down standards of behaviour and second they help in clear communication of the same. This prevents the employee plead on condition of ignorance, which is not the case with the manual containing policies and procedures that are hardly known to any of the employees.

Organisations have now realised the importance of having ethics management programs. Unlike the belief held earlier that it only helps the employee, the belief is gaining more ground that ethics programs are equally beneficial to the organisations. No wonder more and more number of organisations are implementing these programs for the greater benefit of their own, the employees and most importantly the employee relationship.

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