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Tips To Create An Ethical Business Culture

Justin Walker
Justin Walker

Forty-one percent of U.S. workers reported unethical or illegal misconduct while at work

Once employees see other employees skirting the rules without any consequences, they often start to believe that it is okay for them to do the same.

Additionally, an employee who wants to do the right thing may increasingly feel pressured not to speak up about unethical behavior out of fear.

According to a 2013 study done by the Ethics Resource Center, 41 percent of U.S. workers reported that they had observed unethical or illegal misconduct while on the job. While not all of these incidents were likely major, small ethical lapses tend to grow into major missteps for companies.

It is your employer’s duty to create an ethical business culture that rewards employees who do the right thing. If you spot anything after reading this article that your employer might be doing that doesn’t seem to follow ethical business practices, you might want to speak with an employment attorney.

What is an ethical business culture?

A business’s culture is often seen as something abstract and difficult to quantify. It goes beyond the employee handbook and the company’s mission statement. A business culture is the method in which the company functions. The business culture can include how employees dress for work, how they interact with management and how they interact with customers and clients.

To define an ethical business culture for a business is to create an environment where doing the right thing is easy and doing the wrong thing will get you disciplined or fired. It also means involving employees in regular discussions about workplace ethics and the procedures that are designed to uphold ethical practices.

An ethical business culture also places a high value on fairness, employee rights, and equal pay, while also discouraging dishonesty, unpaid wages, discrimination and disloyalty to the company, its employees, and its customers.

Eliminate double standards

In order to create an ethical business culture, employers should strive to eliminate double standards and cultivate trust among the team by being honest in their communications. This means that there should not be policies that managers and supervisors are permitted to ignore which subordinates are required to follow or are even reprimanded for not following. This allows all employees to put the work ahead of their own interests, regardless of their individual ranks or roles within the company.

Foster a respectful environment

Ethical employers should actively work to create a workplace environment that makes it possible for managers and employees to take pride in their work and identify with the values that drive the organization as a whole.

In order to do this, the employer must ensure that all employees have the right resources and authority to fulfill their job responsibilities. In addition, the organization should respect the rights and dignity of all employees.

Encourage workers to report illegal or unethical conduct

Employers should encourage workers to report illegal or unethical conduct, such as discrimination or harassment, by making sure that there are specific procedures that employees can follow to inform their employer when these incidents occur.

In addition, employees should not be made to feel that they will be reprimanded or retaliated against by the employer if they do decide to do the right thing by reporting the behavior. Finally, all employees, including managers and supervisors should receive training on the company’s policies and procedures with regard to workplace conduct.

Create a clear path to reward and recognition

Employers should be transparent when it comes to outlining how decisions are made regarding performance, pay, and promotion. In addition, the criteria for achieving reward and recognition should be clearly defined. Ethical employers make information about ethical and unethical conduct visible to all managers and employees and avoid recognizing or promoting people who violate the values of the company.

Advice For Creating An Ethical Business Culture

While this is not a comprehensive list of the steps that employers should take to create an ethical business culture, it should provide you with enough information to help you identify whether or not your workplace places a high priority on ethical business practices. Workplace productivity, employee turnover and general sentiment towards an organization are all impacted by the culture your business creates. Create an ethical business culture and reap the long-term awards.

Photo credit: garagestock/Shutterstock

Image Credit: ESB Professional/Shutterstock
Justin Walker
Justin Walker
Community Member
Justin Walker of Walker Law is a top-tier employment law and business litigation attorney located in downtown San Diego. His knowledge, expertise and commitment to every case are what set Justin apart from the crowd.