In the workplace, the significance of ethics and ethical decisions should be emphasized. The term ethics refers to the study of peoples’ conducts based on their behaviors with the aim of stressing on the right and wrong (Cady 4). On the other hand, the dissimilarity between ethical decision-making process and the usual decision-making process is that during ethical decision-making process an individual has to weigh values before settling on a judgment. This implies that during ethical decision-making process values or morals play crucial roles in the outcome of a judgment. In any organization, high ethical standards can be achieved through organization and individuals’ efforts to conform to appropriate moral values. However, when applying ethics in an organization, some aspects need to be considered (Curtler 45). For instance, to survive all business organizations must strive to earn profits. In the contemporary society, a few business organizations strive to earn profits or outdo their competitors through unethical means. Notably, these organizations’ successes are short-lived owing to their misconducts. To reduce incidences of such misconducts in our society, business societies and relevant government authorities have developed legal and implicit rules to oversee operations in businesses and our institutions. These rules have ensured that businesses and institutions operate without harming individuals and the society.
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Relationship between ethics, values, and morals
Society considers values as core beliefs that are essential. As such, values dictate the choices reached in our work places and private lives. According to social experts, values give rise to ethics or morals (Cady 24). Ethical decision requires decision makers to prioritize important values when coming up with their judgments. This implies that for an individual or an organization to be judged as right, wrong, admirable, or corrupt depends on our abilities to make sound decisions.
In an organization, being aware of ethical issues and integrating them into our daily decision-making processes decreases our likelihoods of committing costly mistakes (Cady 10). Unethical practices affect the morale of employees. Similarly, ethical wrongdoings have the potential to harm the company’s associations with customers, clients, shareholders, suppliers, and the public. In this regard, the manner in which executives tackle sticky issues can alter their efficacy and integrity. Usually, their decisions influence the integrity and the courage others are willing to trust in these leaders. With respect to this, all organizations should encourage moral working environments by formulating a distinct set of values and standards to which all employees are held accountable. Equally, through this approaches an organization that aims at enhancing high ethical standards may at one time shut down its operation when it fails to meet its internal quality standards, do away with its contentious products in the market, and fire employees with unethical behaviors.
The importance of ethics
In our daily lives, the study of ethics should not only be done for academic interests. Scholars have pointed out that although human beings can live comfortable lives without ever inquiring into fields like cosmology and religion, they cannot avoid the questions of ethics (Cady 23). Every reflective person in the course of his or her life encounters ethical questions. As such, ethical questions arise in every aspect of our lives ranging from personal goals in life, personal relationships, and proper conduct in our interaction with others. Every day, human beings are faced with social and political challenges that confront modern societies. Challenges of inequality, human rights, civil rights, and discriminations arise and should be solved in sound a manner. Equally, issues related to technology, advancements in medicine, environmental degradation, and international justice arise more often and require human beings to make decisive ethical solutions to solve them.
In the field of business, business ethics continues to evolve yearly. With these changes, more institutions are acknowledging the benefits of improving ethical conduct and link between business ethics and financial performance. From the business researches and case studies, it is evident that ethical reputation between the business organization, their clients, and the public are essential facets of every successful business organization. Similarly, every employer should acknowledge that ethics contribute to employee commitment. Employees’ commitment increases when they believe that their future is tied to the organization. Thus, the more an organization is willing to take care of its employees the more the employees are willing to take care of the organization.
Similarly, ethics play crucial role in the public sector as it does in the private sector. In government institutions, many individuals have been fired, suspended, or demoted owing to their unethical behaviors (Trapp 37). For instance, Tom Delay who was a former House Majority executive was jailed for three years in prison after he was found guilty of money laundering and conspiracy cases. While in office, Delay had laundered the corporate money to support republicans’ election to the Texas legislature. This scandal demonstrates the need for appropriate ethical codes to be put in place at all levels of our society to curb unethical doings.
For individuals, knowledge in ethics will help people recognize ethical issues when they arise and recognize approaches needed to solve them. Similarly, knowledge in ethics will enable individuals to learn more about available ethical decision-making processes and ways to enhance ethical behaviors in the society. Likewise, individuals with knowledge on ethics understand how to coexist peacefully with their workmates and solve conflicts whenever they occur.
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Usually, challenges, situations, or occasions requiring people to come up with appropriate choices are referred to as ethical choices (Cady 36). In our institutions, ethical issues are classified with respect to misuse of an organization’s resources, abusive workplace behaviors, lying, and conflicts of interests, discrimination, and sexual harassment. Misuse of an organization’s resources is viewed as the leading misconduct in our organizations. These misconducts range from unauthorized use of equipment to embezzlement of an organization’s funds. To curb these unethical doings, organizations should come up with tough policies that ensure that an organization’s resources are used appropriately and all the employees are held responsible for any misconduct.
Another ethical issue that is common within our institutions is abusive or intimidating behaviors. In an institution, intimidation and abusive behaviors are exhibited through physical threats, false accusations, insults, harshness, and being annoying. To end these unethical behaviors, companies should come up with appropriate measures that ensure that any employees found guilty of such misconduct is punished accordingly. Intimidation and abusive behaviors can damage the company’s reputation. In this regard, executives should ensure that early signs of this behaviors are dealt with immediately before they escalate. Equally, all other ethical issues in an organization including lying, conflicts of interests, discrimination, and sexual harassment should be discouraged by adopting appropriate codes of ethics to prevent and punish those found guilty of these misconducts.
The development of ethics in our institutions
In the last thousands of years, understanding and theories of ethics have continued to evolve (Trapp 43). As per the consequentiality view, the best ethical decision is the decision that will bring the greatest consequences to all entities affected by the decision. Immanuel Kant’s theory, categorical imperative theory, is considered as the foundation of rational ethics. It is believed that Aristotle was one of the earliest philosophers to introduce ethics in economics. During the 4BC, Aristotle argued that human beings could live better lives if they lived according to human nature. Through this argument, he meant that human beings make their lives miserable through unethical doings. For him, these unethical doings were short-termed. Therefore, the philosopher urged the people of his time to strive for long-term pleasures rather than short-term pleasures by practicing ethical behaviors in their lives.
During the year 1907, the first business code of ethics was formulated and adopted immediately by the managers of big corporations. Currently all professions have come up with their own code of ethics to aid practitioners who face ethical dilemmas. Most of these codes were developed during the 20th century. Prior the 1960s, the United States underwent through numerous excruciating phases that tested the effectiveness of capitalism. During the 1920s, progressive movements emerged and championed the business fraternity and the government to provide the US citizens with income that could sustain their education, recreation, health, and retirement. Through these movements, businesses were requested to reduce unnecessary price increases in their products and services that were seen as undermining the families’ living wages. In 1930s, New Deal movements emerged and specifically blamed the business fraternity for the increase in the country’s economic woes. These movements requested the government to work harmoniously with the business fraternity to increase the family income. During the 1950s and the 1960s, business environments were faced with emerging challenges such as environmental issues, increased in employee- employer tension, changing work ethics, and civil rights issues (Snare 78). Likewise, between the year 1970 and the year 1990 more challenges arose as business ethics and regulations were changing at a phenomenal rate. These issues were increased in bribes and illegal contracting practices, deceptive advertising, incidences of financial frauds, and incidences of peddling. By 1990, several corporations that were once viewed as operating within accepted moral values found themselves with problems after these accepted values ceased to be applicable (Curtler 100). Through the early 1990s, the US government continued to enhance self-regulation and free trade. However, in the year 1993, president bill Clinton’s government took unprecedented action when it passed laws aimed at reducing teenage smoking.
Before the year 2000, ethics had been institutionalized in every sector. However, it was claimed that more than a few business executives and organizational leaders were reluctant to fully embrace the public desire for high ethical standards. For instance, in the 2001, misconduct at Enron, WorldCom, and Halliburton motivated the United States government, the private sector, and the public to explore new ways to encourage ethical behaviors in our institutions. During the same period, global institutions across all continents were being faced with accounting scandals such as falsifying financial reports. With increases in such unethical business behaviors in our institutions, public and political demands to improve ethical standards increased. During the year, 2002 the united states passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act with the aim of reducing increase in unethical behaviors within our institutions. The new legislation made securities fraud a criminal offense and strengthened punishments for corporate fraud. Currently, the changes in FSGO regulations requires managers and other leaders to be up to date with ethics programs and its implementation and adoption programs.Through these amendments, executive leaders are required to supervise the discovery of ethical risks and come up with methods of thwarting these risks.
The process of institutionalizing ethics
Based on the above arguments, the importance of ethics to an institution is paramount. Currently, successful institutions and businesses are striving to be more concerned with their institutional ethics (Curtler 56). In an institution, ethical values can be institutionalized using several means. These means are determined by both short-term and long-term factors. In the long term, an institution should come up with organization’s culture that encourages individuals to embrace good morals and ethical behaviors. For instance, whenever an organization comes up with a particular decision the company’s managers are required to guide their employees to understand the ethical factors required from them to fulfill the situation settled on. Through this, an organization should persistently create and encourage organizational cultures that augment ethical values (Curtler 64). To achieve these initiatives, an organization can encourage its workers to behave ethically. For the short-term, executives should distribute memos that highlight on the significance of ethical behaviors to an organization. The aim of these initiatives is to ensure that workers acknowledge ethical behaviors in the same manner they acknowledge legal and financial concerns.
Similarly, a company can use the code of ethics to institutionalize ethics within their organization. The code of ethics ought to demonstrate a broad value structure of an organization, highlight organization’s values, and outline strategies for ethical decisions that are in accordance with these principles. Equally, all organizations should ensure that the appropriate codes of ethics are implemented and adhered to regularly (Curtler 156).
In conclusion, this research paper provides a general idea of ethics and ethical thinking in our society. Throughout the paper, several aspects of ethics have been highlighted. As such, ethics comprises of morals, principles, and standards that determine how people should conduct themselves. In our societies, the public sectors, private sectors, investors, employees, and customers determine whether specific acts are wrong, right, ethical, or unethical based on their moral judgments. The study of ethics is important for several reasons. Currently, increase in the incidences of unethical behaviors in our institutions and governments emphasize on the need for better understanding of the factors that contribute to ethical and unethical decisions. In these regards, individuals’ knowledge on ethics may not be sufficient to guide them in their daily activities. Therefore, the study of ethics will enable individuals recognize ethical issues and identify approaches available to solve them. Similarly, adoptions of code of ethics have ensured that businesses and institutions operate without harming individuals and the society. Current knowledge on ethics has evolved since time immemorial. Before the 20th century, ethical issues were discussed from religious perspectives (Curtler 123). With the advancements in technologies, ethical discussions can now be analyzed from scientific and social perspectives.
Cady, Duane L.. Moral vision: how everyday life shapes ethical thinking. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005. Print.
Curtler, Hugh Mercer. Ethical argument: critical thinking in ethics. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.
Snare, Francis. The nature of moral thinking. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.
Trapp, Michael B.. Philosophy in the Roman Empire: ethics, politics and society. Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.