What is ethical behavior in the workplace? How can HRM get Involved?


ethical behavior


Ethical behavior in the workplace is maintained in all level of organizations including manufacturing organizations, service organizations, small business, SME and multinational corporations. Society and individuals around business organization seek good values to strengthen ethics. Ethical behavior guides individuals and companies to interact with people in a proper and helpful way. Ethical behavior ensures honesty and trustworthiness in the workplace and society. Ethical behavior in a workplace increases honesty and valued relationship among employees, customers, business partners and other stakeholders (Long, 2016).


What is ethical behavior in the workplace? How does HRM enforce ethical policies?

Ethics means the quality of judging what is good or bad. It also means that the distinction between what should be and what should not be in a given situation. Ethics involves systematizing, shielding, and advising assumption of exact and erroneous behavior. The workplace is the most time spending place of a man’s life. Man must spend his valuable time in the workplace. A workplace is a place where one can make his ethics. Ethical behavior means that what should be done in a given context. When one works in an organization, he or she should behave in a predetermined pattern which is set by the organization. Ethical behavior in the workplace refers to the package of standard activities should be done in an organization. It comprises of the norms, behavior, style, and also the pattern of the behavior. The main goal of the worker is to achieve the organizational desired goal. Only ethical behavior can make the dream possible and in fact. So, it can be easily concluded that ethical behavior in the workplace refers to the stream of behavioral patterns which can help to achieve the organizational goal and will match with the long run vision of the organization.


Many of the measures can be taken by the human resource manager to ensure the ethical policies of an organization. Such as

Staffing and choice of worker:  Management can ensure the ethical behavior in the organization by fostering the idea of justice and neutrality in the processes of selection and recruitment of people. To ensure this human resource manager can follow the following procedures

  • Formal process of selection: The human resource selection policies should be designed in such a way that it ensures a formal orientation of the employee in the organization. Written examination and a neutral judgment in an interview can help to achieve this objective.
  • Interpersonal treatment: The hired people should be dealt with good communication and with politeness. This leads to an ethical judgment in the organization.
  • Providing elucidation: Human resource managers should provide feedback about the performance of the employee to ensure ethical judgment.

Training: It is the important realm of which ethical behavior can be pushed to the employee easily. The human resource manager can ensure ethical standard by

  • Managing ethical dilemmas properly
  • Using ethical frameworks (such as codes of conduct) to resolve the problems.
  • Teaching how to use human resource functions (such as interviews and disciplinary practices) in moral ways.
  • Performance appraisal: Fair performance appraisals make it clear the company adheres to high ethical principles by measuring and rewarding employees who follow those principles. The human resource manager can use the Annual Confidential Report (ACR) to measure the performance.
  • The reward for good work and disciplinary systems: The organization may implement a system that ensuring the rewarding for good activities and punishment for unethical activities.


Do businesses/organizations HRM today offer ethical classes to ensure employees are aware of the code of conduct?


Yes, now a day’s all companies follow the code of conduct in human resources practice. Human resource is considered the most valuable asset for the organization. If the company doesn’t follow the ethical rule the total integrity of the company will be destroyed, as a result, most of the company follows the ethical standards and code of conduct. Most of the business organization has an ethical training system which enables the employee to choose. Fairness is an important issue in most human resource decision. Whether the manager hires anyone or discharge anyone, promote anyone or demote anyone all of the decisions depend on the fairness of the organization as well as the justice concept of the human resource manager.  Not only the large organization but also the small organization also follows the ethical behavioral pattern. For example, the world technology giant follows the ethical code of conduct at all.  Since 1988, the computer chip manufacturer Intel has been trying to bolster its status through its labors and ethics in the technological sectors to strengthen technological learning.  Another giant company Google also follows the ethical standard and policies. Every year they train their employee the training about the ethical code of conduct. Google is easily the best illustration of ethics in the corporate world today.


How HRM investigates claims of sexual harassment and unethical behavior such as bribes?

“Sexual harassment” is the undesirable conduct of a sexual nature that is sufficiently relentless or disgusting to unreasonably impede with an employee’s job performance or generate an aggressive or odious working environment.
Though sexual harassment includes an ample variety of conduct, some examples the following:

  • Bodily assaults of a sexual nature, such as rape, sexual succession, molestation or attempts to commit these activities, and deliberate physical conduct is called sexual harassment like touching, pinching, patting, grabbing etc.
  • Unwanted sexual forwarding, propositions or other sexual annotations.
  • Sexual or discriminatory displays or publications anywhere in the organization.


A way of Responding to Unethical conduct

If an employee thinks that he or she has been subject to sexual stalking or any unwanted sexual attention, he or she may deal with the circumstances directly to the harasser, if possible. It is not necessarily that he or she should have submitted a written document to management.

HR executive or a supervisor/manager as soon as possible deals with this issue. Management must be made responsive of the circumstances so that it can conduct an instantaneous and independent examination and take suitable action to remediate or avert the banned manner from continuing. The manager can make a complaint box about the sexual harassment and any other activities like bribes, stealing etc. human resource manager should consider the issue with passion and with the privacy of the employees. The manager should consider the punishment and rewarding system for these types of activities.


HRM has ensured that their decisions follow the law:

Human resource manager should ensure whether they follow the ethical code of conduct. There are numerous indicators that show the management performance in case of ensuring the ethical standards. It can be measured with the following indicators that human resource manager follow the ethical standard. The measurement indicators are.

Hiring: The selection of an employee is the most crucial decision for the organization. If the human resource manager is able to ensure the justice and fairness in the selection process of employees, the workers will behave in the rational and ethical way. The manager should consider the feedback of employee about the justice and fairness in behavior. Keeping privacy is another indicator that management is able to ensure ethical behavior.

Diversity: Diversity refers to the variation in the work and responsibilities. Management can assign different duties in different person randomly for the short period of time and may check the accuracy and integrity of the employee to do this. Diversity not only makes the situation different but also checks the ethical stability of employee in every sector.

Firing: Firing means removing the employee from the jobs. Like any other activities, it is a very intensive method to determine whether the organization follows the ethical standard or not. An organization that follows the pure ethical standard has low labor turnover.

Discrimination: In ethical standard, there is no room for discrimination. Management can reduce unethical activities by ensuring the discrimination-free organization. An organization with full of discrimination may not be correct in an ethical standard.


Which Federal Agency would unethical hiring, firing, and lack of diversity be reported to the EEO?

Many states, counties, cities, and towns have their individual laws elimination discrimination, and agencies responsible for enforcing those laws. These agencies are called “Fair Employment Practices Agencies” (FEPAs). These agencies are akin to those enforced by EEOC. In many cases, these agencies implement laws that recommend greater shield to workers, such as security from unfairness regardless the job nature, sexual orientation, number of children etc. There also may be diverse deadlines for filing accuses different standards of determining whether you are sheltered by these laws and different types of reprieve available to fatalities of discrimination.

Who to File a Charge With

Anyone can file his or her charge with either the EEOC or with a Fair Employment Practices Agency.  When a person initially files with a FEPA that has a work-sharing conformity with the EEOC, and the accusation is covered by a law enforced by the EEOC, the FEPA will dual file the charge with EEOC (meaning EEOC will receive a copy of the charge), but will usually hold the charge for processing.  If the charge is initially filed with EEOC and the charge is also covered by state or local law, EEOC dual files the charge with the state or local FEPA, but ordinarily retains the charge for processing. To determine if there is a FEPA in your area, please see the information for your nearest EEOC field office, which lists the FEPAs in its jurisdictional region. If a FEPA has an agreement with EEOC, a Charging Party may appeal that the EEOC review the determination of the FEPA. EEOC does not review decisions by non-contract FEPAs. The EEOC will conduct an appraisal only if the appeal is submitted in writing within fifteen (15) days off getting of the FEPA’s determination (Law, n.d.)


What happens to companies who previously acted unethically such as Enron? What were the effects on the employees?


There are many corporations who acted in an unethical way and who have to suffer in long run. The most talked unethical scandals are as follows

Name of the corporation Who responsible Consequences
Enron CEO J F Skilling and CEO Ken Lay Shareholders losses $ 74 billion and thousands of employees lost their jobs
Tyco CEO Danish Kozlowski and CFO Mark Swartz CEO and CFO stole $150 million and inflated the asset of the company. Tyco had to pay $2.92 billion to investors.
Freddie Mac COO and President David Glenn About $5 billion earnings were misstated.  Freddie Mac fired the employee David Glenn and made fine of $125 million
American Insurance CEO Hank Greenberg Settled with SEC $10 million in 2003 and $ 1.64 million in 2006
Lehman Brothers Company Executives and Ernest and Young Audit Firm Forced to the largest bankruptcy in the world


The consequences of unethical behavior can be illustrated by Enron collapse. In Enron collapse about 4500 employees lost their jobs and investors lost some 60 billion dollars within a few days; for many, it meant losing their old-age security. The major consequence was the pension fund for the company’s employees was obliterated. An unforgettable loss was citizen’s trust in the American economic system was ruined (“Consequences of the Enron scandal,” n.d.).


Question 7: What are the benefits of ethical behavior?


Ethical behavior in business offers companies a competitive advantage. Ethics does not cost more but give many things. A business with the ethical standard can get more advantages over another company. A human resource team with full ethics is the best asset for the organization. Because committed and learned employee and the trustworthy employee is the key to success to the organization. Ethical behavior in the organization makes trust among the employees and the quality of integrity among the employees is increased. Customers learn to believe ethical brands and remain loyal to them, even during the complicated situation. For example, in 1982, Johnson & Johnson spent over $100 million dollars recalling Tylenol, its best-selling product, after someone tampered with bottles of the painkiller. The company followed its philosophy, a set of ethical organizational values, and the result was an increase in consumer confidence, despite the pollution shock. Society benefits from business ethics because ethical companies are acquainted with their social errands. Companies increasingly are aware of the need to place to ethical behavior in business and determine their triumph by more than just profitability. Companies report on their financial, social and environmental performance. This type of performance reporting acknowledges that companies must make a profit to stay alive, but encourages ethical and business manner. Unethical manners may spoil a firm’s reputation and make it less alluring to stakeholders. Profits could fall as a result. Ethical behavior is central parts of everything inside the organization. Organizations that build an ethical culture outperform organizations that don’t and they reduce their exposure to ethical laps that causes breakdowns (James A. Mithchell, 2001). To know more details about ethical behavior visit Chron.


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