Term Paper: Ways to Improve Ethical Behavior of Those in a Public Office or Organization

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¶ … Improve Ethical Behavior of Those in a Public Office or Organization

Ethical Behavior

Improving organizational ethical behavior:

Over the years, organizational ethics has come to be acknowledged as a key ingredient for which companies are given better market valuation and respect. However, until recently, only a handful of companies regarded ethics to be valid theme for enterprise planning and strategic thinking. The apex management of majority of enterprises devoted bulk of their time developing their organizational and functional strategic plans, their growth strategies, as also their brand strategies. In this quest for profits and enhancing market share, ethics and regulatory compliance took a backseat which was the lookout of the legal department. This has changed, and organizations are painfully cautious that in the coming years, organizational ethical behavior will need serious thought, at the Board as well as the Executive level. Extensive organizational misbehavior and criminal activity such as the Enron issue has triggered the making of a formal ethics strategy a high priority for all organizations, regardless of their size or scale of operations. A lot of bigger organizations have created position for an Ethics Officer who regulate and offer the first line of defense against moral damage in corporations. ("Strategy for an Ethical Organization.," 2003)

To improve ethical behavior, every organization has to frame an 'ethics strategy' covering the following points (i) an ethics strategy must involved with ensuring that all corporate activities are ethical, legitimate, and within the confines of all regulatory guidelines. (ii) Since actions, whether they are correct or otherwise, emanate from character, an ethics strategy must give a direction to guarantee the present development of an individual and organizational character. This is normally done through the establishment of an 'ethics program' in order to train employees. (iii) Besides, an ethics strategy must provide for supervising and regulating organizational activities to lower and check ethical and legal infringements. This has come to be acknowledged as a more and more important as some latest case law has lined that board members in their individual capacity can be held liable for ethical lapses, where ethical plans and programs are not in place. In an effort to frame an ethical strategy, a good point to begin is with the regulatory needs since these in their own potential are the standard ethical standard of every organization. ("Strategy for an Ethical Organization.," 2003)

Whereas regulatory procedures have, for certain period, dealt with current issues like sexual harassment, discrimination on grounds of race and gender, HR practices, advertising, packaging and labeling, a lot of new regulatory factors have been put in place and crafted to check illegal activities. These cover (i) the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations -- FSGO of 1991 that refers minimal ethical requirements and provide for considerably lowered penalties up to 95% in criminal cases in which federal laws are infringed upon in case ethics programs are present. Minimal penalties gave a powerful impulsion for setting up of ethics program. (ii) the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 2002 that instituted reforms in accounting and needs vetting as regards the disclosure of financial reporting of documents. (iii) the expected New York Stock Exchange rules which will need every listed company to have and communicate, internally as well as externally a Code of Conduct, in the absence of which their shares will be de-listed. Besides, organizations should monitor new and revised regulations from regulatory bodies like the FDA, FTC, BATF, IRS and ERISA. After dealing with these regulatory obligations, organizations can introduce an 'ethics program' consisting of several ethical training modules designed to train and create ethical character on personalized basis across the organization. Ethics programs and training constitute an urgent foundation to guarantee an ongoing and intense response to ethical matters as they crop up for employees on the job. ("Strategy for an Ethical Organization.," 2003)

Ethics Program: Although fundamental regulatory adherence solves a lot of problems, the ethical-legal landscape has become so intricate recently that several employees do not have correct perception regarding right or wrong, legality or otherwise of a lot of issues. Spheres like antitrust, price discrimination, managerial conduct, export, intellectual property violation, whistle blowing remain outside the purview of most employees. An ethics program must have the following constituents to be regarded as effective (i) Statement of values: The building and communication of a statement of organizational values is regarded to be the needed guidance. (ii) Code of Conduct: This is an ethics policy that connects an adherence to ethical behavior across the organization, and describes the manner in which these values are to be used in situations. (iii) Executive Leadership and a System: A proposal and systems for the communication monitoring and enforcement of the Code of Conduct that covers (a) ensuring that the ethics program get the needed attention it deserves (ii) Communicating benchmarks and methods to every employee of the organization (iii) discussing ethical matters, and dilemmas for enhancing ethical decision-making. At this point, ethics training gains importance to inculcate current ethical behavior across the organization. (iv) monitoring, auditing and reporting systems that spot and check unethical or unlawful actions for creation of secured and effective systems in which employees are able to look for guidance (v) communicating that unethical behavior has a hefty price tag attached to it as fines are very heavy (vi) enforcing standards continuously and taking disciplinary proceedings accordingly. ("Strategy for an Ethical Organization.," 2003)

The growing public awareness in general and unethical behavior in organizations has gone up in recent years. This rising importance on business ethics in part can be ascribed to the persistent stress between the business world and the general public. This growing stress has sometimes resulted in clamor by the public at large for increased deterrence and stricter regulation of the business world. With that in view, corporations must get on to the act together and institutionalize ethics in organizations. Institutionalizing ethics might appear cumbersome but it has far reaching impact. It implies getting ethics formally and explicitly into daily business life. It implies getting ethics into the company policy formation at the board as also the top management levels and through a formal code ethics into every routine decision making as also the work practices and at every levels of employment. Institutionalizing ethics is a crucial responsibility before the organizations if they are to efficiently balance the rising regular instances of deliberately unethical and sometimes illegal behavior in large and sometimes highly admired companies. As a matter of fact, the institutionalization and management of ethics is a problem confronted by all types of organizations for instance educational, govt, religious, business and the like. (Sims, 2003b)

Interrelatedness of organizational culture and ethics:

Since the bygone 15 years, "culture" has come to be a normal way of contemplating about and describing an organization's internal world which is a means of differentiating a particular organization's 'personality' from another company. It is important to note that an organization's culture socializes people and ethics constitutes an integral part of the culture of organizations. Thus creating and strengthening an ethical organization implies methodically analyzing and managing every aspect of the organizations culture such that they support ethical behavior. Nevertheless, sometimes an organization's culture ingeniously communicates its members that certain actions are acceptable, although they are unethical or unlawful. Unethical organizational practices continue to be ridiculously a common feature. Different individual and organizational factors contribute importantly in discouraging or nurturing responsible behavior on the job. For instance, the culture of an organization that frequently encourages infringement of ethical standards is a source of unethical conduct. Besides, organizations that accords a great deal of importance in managerial assertiveness and corporate success at any cost, competitiveness, and profit have increased chances to stimulate unethical actions. It has to be acknowledged that, seemingly nothing is more crucial to an ethical corporate environment that the moral temperament and pretext set by the top leadership of an organization. (Sims, 2003a)

Thus failure by the top rung leaders to recognize important organizational values, to communicate those values through personal example and to underpin them through establishment of suitable organizational polices proves an absence of ethical leadership which promotes an unethical organizational culture. Overall, organizations are reducing their scale, undergoing revamping measures, merging, and reinventing themselves. In some instances, midlevel management levels are diminishing. A lot of functions are going away for good and replaced through online automation and networked infrastructures. Knowledge workers equipped with technological and people skills should manage processes and also themselves in cyberspace with speed, efficiency and preciseness. (Sims, 2003a)

Business Ethics has been regarded as a management subject, particularly in the aftermath of the launch of social responsibility campaign in the 1960s. During that period, social consciousness campaigns increased the expectations of business to make use of their huge financial and social control to tackle social problems like poverty, crime, environmental issues, equal rights, public health and educational improvement. It was the collective consciousness who asserted that since businesses were raking in profits from the exploitation of the nation's resources, businesses owed… [END OF PREVIEW]

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