While ethics are vital to every organization, and having business ethics is paramount to good business practices, many businesses are not inherently ethical, and require both internal and external checks to remain so. There are a number of things that a business can do to build an ethical business, including the setting and adherence to core values, which help integrate ethics into the business model. These core values have to be fully supported by the business and all levels of leadership in the organization, and should be found in the way the organization operates, and in its policies and procedures. One of the most important departments for integrating ethics into a business is the department that deals with the most ethically challenging issue in business, the human resources department.
Why is Having an Ethical Business Important for Employees?
Those with human resource masters degrees in the HR department will most often find itself challenged with internal ethical conundrums that if handled incorrectly can seriously harm the organization, both by damaging the reputation of the organization as well as leading to legal issues that can become increasingly severe. Such ethical issues can include unfair employment policies, discrimination, treating the employees poorly, sexual harassment and poor handling of these issues can cause serious problems for any organization.
The converse of the above is also true. Any organization that promotes ethical behavior and fairness in its actions towards employees will experience significant benefits from the interaction. Employees who feel that they are treated fairly and as if they were people, and not simply cogs in a machine, are far more likely to stay loyal to the organization, and will be less likely to seek employment elsewhere. Long-term employees bring a number of benefits, including being more experienced than new hires, and become more and more integral to the success of a business. Happy employees have repeatedly been shown to be more productive than demoralized employees, and add to the efficiency of the business while reducing recruiting and training costs.
How Human Resources Departments Can Ensure Ethical Behavior and Fairness?
The HR department is responsible for representing the employees of an organization, from their concerns to the way that they are treated. This means that the HR department is central to managing the ethics of an organization internally, by making sure that the dealings of the organization with its employees is both fair and ethical. The HR department is responsible for establishing a code of ethics and ensuring that it is upheld by the rest of the organization’s leadership.
The Human Resources department and persons working in this department can promote ethics in the organization by
- acting ethically in every professional interaction with employees of the organization
- evaluating any actions that will be taken by an individual or group to ensure that decisions that are taken will be ethical and that they will be implemented in an ethical manner
- champion the development of ethics in the organization and ensure that others develop in an ethical manner, especially those who are in leadership positions
HR departments are also the first frontier in establishing fair practices towards employees. The HR department can do this in a number of ways including
- Respecting the worth of every individual in the organization, no matter their status in the business
- Treating employees with compassion, respect and dignity. This helps foster a trusting environment where employees can feel safe and valued, and will reduce the incidence of harassment, discrimination and intimidation that plagues an increasing number of workplaces
- Ensuring that every employee has an opportunity to develop within the organization by learning new competencies and expanding upon existing skills
- Developing and implementing policies which are fair, consistent and guarantee equitable treatment for all
- Supporting ethical and legal decisions made by leadership and fight decisions which are not.
- Acting in a responsible manner and practicing fair and sound management policies and procedures in all areas of business operation.
Any department in an organization that deals with people or resources can have an impact on the ethics and fairness inherent to the business itself. It is the responsibility of these departments to ensure that the overall practices of the business are fair and ethical.