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Work Ethics from Linda Ween's blog

Each person has a different understanding of the world “ethics”. However, most of them consider ethics as the rightful actions which are acceptable by society. Overall ethics is considered to be a science which defines what is right or wrong in society. Ethics was researched and developed long before our decade. It was concerned with rules of behavior in society, religion, family, kingdom, and now it is used in business areas, among others. Companies not only try to get large profits, but also be involved in social responsibility and act in an ethical manner in order not to spoil reputation.

In general, ethics is referred to the defining of what is wrong and what is right and why is it assumed so. Without ethics, the doings of humans would be random. There would be a mess in the world. Value and priorities are the core components of ethical behavior. Ethics requires mankind to treat society with honesty and respect. Sometimes it requires to give up something in order to behave in an ethical manner. Some people believe ethics and religion have a profound bond. “You shall not kill” is the moral which is always referred to Bible and is the unquestionable rule for society. Nevertheless, philosophers consider that religion is quite a different think, and it is not likely to be the background of the ethics. Scientists of ethics mostly rely on reasons and experience for determining what is better and what is worse. In addition to this, ethics is about judgments. Normative judgments define the evil and the welfare. They are commonly used in such areas as religion, ethics, laws, aesthetics and customs while descriptive judgments are used in sociology and psychology. Descriptive ethics assumes that each society has different norms of ethics.

In every country, the ethical issues are absolutely different. The country’s customs and religious beliefs impact the understanding of ethics as a whole. For instance, in Arabic nations, the behaviors of women are restricted by several norms. One of them is, “women should not talk to the opposite sex in public”. If this norm is violated by a certain woman, her behavior will be considered unethical, and the reaction of the Arabic society in this regard will be negative.

The history of ethics comes from the ages long before the Christ. Confucius and Aristotle were scientists who researched ethics and tried to form and explain its meaning and implications. In different time frames and nations, moral had its unique characteristics. In ancient Greece, the most outstanding figures were Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates. Socrates claimed that virtue is the main mean of achieving the happiness. Plato had similar thoughts to the Socrates theory, but the difference in his believes was the additional reliance on justice, bravery and moderation. These pillars make up the harmony in human’s activities. He found the essence of teaching people the ethics. For this reason, he invented the community of goods and relevant education for children. Despite all these studies, Aristotle is considered to be the founder of ethics. He was basing his theories and assumptions on the facts of his experience. However, he questioned the linkage between the God and the mankind. The studies of ethics in Greece and Roma got more complicated. The new terms, such as Hedonism, Epicurus, Cynics, Stoicism, and Skeptics became part of ethical philosophy. Hedonism is all about the pleasure, which is achieved at the end. On the contrary, Epicurus claims that pleasure is an evil. This study soon develops Cynicism, which is characterized as the arrogant attitudes of people to laws and life. Stoicism explains that good or bad actions made by people appear because of the built-in nature of humans. The skeptical norms are based on refusal of natural moral law. Christian ethics linked mankind with God and explained even those ethical issues which could not be explained in the ancient times. Ethical morals were referring to the every soul and how the mankind is judged. However, after this the studies on ethics do not stop. Various theories and works of Kant and Nietzsche made revolutions in the society.

Nowadays, ethics is more than behavior in society. Moreover, it is frequently used in business practices. Ethics in the workplace is about decision-making. Ethical issues usually considered when a person is acting right, when the wrongful action also seems attractive. Workplace ethics requires leaders, managers, and other employees to take legal and moral actions in their jobs. The importance of ethics is very significant as the company which seeks profits involves people who have a right to get faith treatment. The same thing relates to customers. The company does not have to make wrongful actions, which harm consumers. Consequently, unethical companies lose their profits because of their actions.

The percentage of companies which implement ethical programs has increased dramatically. Companies seek such benefits by using ethical programs: strong reputation, high-quality people, and loyalty in the eyes of society, pleasant environment, and legal actions. Gretchen Winter, the vice president of Baxter International, claims that the ethical training of employees helps to create a friendly environment in order to prepare employees for solving ethical dilemmas. Ethical programs train workers how to make ethical decisions on their own. Winter also highlighted that some employees break the rules even if they work in the most ethical companies. Organizational ethics is all about standards which instruct workers how to act at their workplace. It is often based on respect, honesty and trust. If the work environment and people behave ethically, the other people may also follow this example. Ethical programs help preparing work environment for facing the ethical issues and finding the solutions.

The main questions have to be answered before making significant decisions: What values does the company possess? Why is it to act ethically? What is the initial intention of the action? Will anybody/anybody`s interests be offended? Are you confident in this decision? There are also several tips which help people to act ethically: do not allow your personal interests to betray the interests of the company, treat others with respect, follow the contracts, help others, let the decision match the values and interests of the company, do not make decisions on your own when others are involved, and consider the risks of the decision.

Ethical practices have different forms; for instance, Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) is one of the major practices nowadays. The Sociaal-Economische Raad (SER, Social-Economic Council of Netherlands) defines that CSR occurs when the company makes a contribution to the society and takes care of its well-being. It involves safe conditions of the workplace, care of the safety of the products, and participation in the environmental programs. Some companies collect money for donations in order to take care of the society (money for hospitals or people with cancer), animals (programs for protection of animals), and the environment. For instance, most of the companies have separate garbage bins for plastic, paper and glass. These programs attract people to participate, as well as add trust to the reputation of the company. The main assumption, which helps companies to acquire Social Responsibility programs, is to consider them as a part of society. The most vivid example of social responsibility programs is the P&G Children`s Safe Drinking Water Program. P&G, one of the leading companies in the world, along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have invented the water purifying technology. Water is supplied to the developing world without any earning any profit. P&G claimed to save one life in an hour, in the developing world. In addition to this, the company reacts to all the world disasters in order to save people and the globe.

Code of ethics became a popular tool of the business. Companies make up a statement which defines the values of the company and the main traits each worker has to possess in order to behave in an ethical manner. It covers the areas of competition, the work of employees, the company’s assets, and the conflict of interest. There are also different areas where ethics can become an issue. As for investors, they would like to know that their money is used wisely, and they are not cheated. Employees would like to have their salaries on time, and get opportunities for their career growths. Customer requires the company to give all the information of the products, get the fair bill and be treated properly. In the battle with competitors, the fair tactics has to be used. The company does not to make harm to the competitors. The fair taxes, including all the needed documentation, have to be provided to the government. If the government is cheated by the company, it may be fined or closed. Finally, environment does not have to be polluted more than allowed. For instance, P&G as a world-wide leader is known for providing ethical practices in all structures of the company, from paying fair salaries to the employees to providing the social responsibility programs.

Ethical issues frequently occur when one is interested in getting all the benefits without thinking of others. One of them appears when the company tries to minimize its costs by paying unfair taxes to the government. In is not only unethical, but is also illegal. In addition to this, consumers are sometimes affected because of unfair marketing activities and advertisements. As an example, some companies do not include complete details about the sale into a commercial or an ad. Consequently, consumers believe the company’s claim as they guess that the company acts in the ethical manner. After a certain disappointment, the company is subject to be punished by regulators. It also loses customers and trusted reputation.

In modern society, it is challenging to define what it right and what is wrong as the values of mankind have changed dramatically over the last years. People think they know more than others while their power is unlimited. For this reason, they make their own assumptions about what is right, which leads to the problems in businesses and society. Some people who occupy high positions use it in their own interests. In this case, guilty people have to be punished either be the government or the company, depending on the degree of the issue.

In overall, ethics in business is about choosing the right legal action without harming others even if the wrongful action seems more attractive. Ethical practices in the workplace include Corporate Social Responsibility Programs, fair and honest treatment towards both internal (coworkers) and external (customers, government) parties. Social Responsibility Programs bring advantage to both environment and society, as well as improve the reputation of the company. In order to create ethical atmosphere, some companies make up the Code of Ethics, which states the values of the company. Ethical decision-making of the company will help the company remain strong and trusted.

A similar personal growth essay written by Linda Ween can be found on her profile.

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By Linda Ween
Added Oct 5

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