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The 9 Necessary Ethics at Workplace


  • Ethical Obedience is crucial at a workplace to maintain a safe and comfortable work environment, ensure worker satisfaction, prevent fallouts by serving as a safety-feature, and maximise synergy through harmony and cooperation. Knowing and understanding Workplace ethics helps create a safe and sound, productive working milieu for all. Let’s have a look at different dimensions of ethics :

    1. Personal Ethics – Personal Ethics refers to an individual’s self-prescribed ethical framework. They are a set of subjective, emotional standards or personal codes rather than a set of objective guidelines, governing an individual’s conduct. Personal Ethics need to have nothing to do with legalities. Self-conscience and discretion dictate action driven by Personal Ethics. It is important for an individual to cast aside their personal ethics if they clash with their other ethics if they want to continue to inhabit that niche or milieu and continue to operate in peace. Alternatively, if such a compromise or sacrifice is intolerable, the individual should exit the contract and niche before seeking redressal or more reconcilable avenues. Examples include lifestyle choices such as veganism or exercises of spiritual prudence such as faith-motivated dressing norms.

    2. Interpersonal Ethics – Interpersonal Ethics refer to the set of ethics that govern human behaviour between two individuals. Interpersonal ethics are the explicit or tacit norms that delimit or constrain our pattern of interaction with other individuals. They often confine or moderate the scope of actions that we can perform in presence of other individuals, more so when it directly or indirectly affects them. When any individual is party to the effects of one’s actions, no matter how small, interpersonal ethics must be taken into account. However, in a narrower sense, Interpersonal ethics refers to the set of ethics that govern any direct interaction between two individuals including but not limited to all forms of conversation and correspondence and contact/non-contact physical interaction. Examples include being polite, staying receptive, and maintaining eye-contact while having a conversation.

    3. Group Ethics – Group ethics refers to the behavioural norms that govern the functioning of a group of people as a whole. They may exceed the sum of its parts in the sense that they cannot be achieved by a mere superposition of the combinatorial interpersonal ethics of all constituent individuals or their respective personal ethics, but the latter can become constraints to veto a decision or action during group interactions. Group Ethics can both add or subtract to interpersonal ethics because of multilateral engagement, simultaneous involvement, and treatment as a whole. An example of an act motivated by Group Ethics includes encouraging a hesitant or reserved team-member to speak up during a meeting or group discussion.

    4. Organisational Ethics – Every organisation, private and public alike, often has a set of rules that are often characteristic to it. Such rules can at times be unique and salient. Organisational Ethics govern conduct within an organisation, that is within its spatial (real or virtual) and interactive purview, or both. The scope of organisational ethics is limited to the bounds and confines of the particular organisation in question and consideration. Different organisations may define different prescriptions as to what constitutes their organisational ethics and the respective scopes of applicability of such rules and protocols. Organisational ethics are often a mixture of subjective principles such as leading ideals, mission, and guiding virtues and objective, strictly-enforced limits and targets that all members are expected to adhere to. Non-compliance may lead to expulsion i.e. cancellation of contracts and end of terms. Organisations may choose to penalise violators within their legally-valid contractual purview. Organisational ethics are often laid out in the contract and mutually agreed upon at the time of member registration. Certain rights might not apply within an organisation in the strictest sense and in general, there’s a significantly greater degree of restriction and imperatives imposed on member conduct within an organisation. For example, work deadlines, attendance requirements, and laws governing peer-to-peer interaction have no civic basis but are important manifestations of organisational ethics. Extension of organisational ethics to the personal life of members and employees is an invalid overreach.

    5. Occupational Ethics – Occupational ethics are a set of behavioural codes and protocols characteristic of the nature and field of one’s work, common to all those who profess the same economic activity or pursue the same means of livelihood. For example, doctors are expected to follow a number of ethical principles well beyond their legal or even organisational requirements. Neither government laws nor hospital rules mandate that a doctor provide community service in the afterhours, but it is a doctor’s ethical obligation by the virtue of their profession to do so. Similarly, a teacher’s occupational ethics oblige them to go an extra mile and proactively remove structural hurdles from a student’s learning process, for example making special arrangement and accommodation for special-needs children, even if their organisation has no such directive or binding policy. It is common to see well-defined occupational guidelines framed by Government as well as Non-Government Safety & Awareness organisations.

    6. Professional Ethics – Professional Ethics are the norms governing professional behaviour across occupations and organisations. They apply more or less, if not uniformly, to all working professionals who pursue an economic activity, whatever it be, in a formal setting. For example, it is ethically-compelling for a shopkeeper to not refuse a customer on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, caste, creed. A chemical shopowner, a hardware shopowner, and a medicine shopowner are equally mandated by professional ethics to not sell their products, say sulfuric-acid, chainsaw, and sleeping pills to a prospective customer with a proven criminal record, a strong-suspicion of motive for a crime, and ongoing severe addiction or substance abuse issues, particularly if they’re visited by the latter in a clearly inebriated or delirious state. An example of a component of Universal Professional Ethics is not making inquiries about a coworker’s personal life or pertaining to their choices and conduct outside work, without a strong reason to do so, such as in the case of an interview. Even then, the inquiry should be justifiable as being unavoidable and relevant (within the scope of necessity as pertains to the evaluation process) and not arbitrary, vaguely-based, or uncalled for.

    7. Work Ethics – Work Ethics refer to the set of ethics that govern work in general, whether paid or unpaid, whether as profession, vocation, passion, or volunteering. It can intersect with personal, group, and professional ethics, at times greatly overlapping. Not procrastinating is a point of work ethic on a personal dimension. Working with minimal wastage and maximum efficiency, even when not mandated by any rules, is an illustration of general, universal Work Ethic, as is being transparent and taking initiative.

    8. Social Ethics – Social Ethics include Social Responsibility to Giveback, Commitment to upholding equal opportunities, workplace diversity, accommodative conduct, and inclusivity in hiring, content, and operations, and Environmental Responsibilities. Intrusion, exploitation, and unreasonable footprints should be avoided. The aim of social ethics is to strengthen the social structure, democratise the company operations, and liberalise decision-making to make it progressive and answerable. Affirmative action and inculcation of a scientific-temperament in self and others is also a point of social ethics. Supporting a local project or venture such as the local football team, city cleaning drive, school tree plantation drive, or awareness campaign is an example of a social-ethically motivated act on part of a factory operating in the area.

    9. Cultural Ethics – Cultural Ethics are hard to pinpoint given their scope and variability across niches. However, being respectful to the various cultures, traditions, and heritage of the site of operations is of utmost importance. The dignity of the background of various stakeholders including anyone being affected by or indirectly providing land, resources, or protection to the venture ought to be respected. Respecting national symbols, celebrating important festivals, and using culture-sensitive, dignified language in a self-aware manner are some of the responsibilities of an MNC that are not just ethical but also essential to its naturalisation. Making an effort to understand, embrace, adapt to, and blend in an industry (production site), base of operations, or market sites cultural mores, behavioural nuances, special behavioural quirks in specific contexts, and unique linguistic and other communicative and interactive patterns helps ease the organisation in the site and forge a mutualistic co-existence, enhancing the organisation’s synergy whereas ignorance of these subtleties can lead to crippling friction.
  • July 10, 2021  by biofie content team
  • Written by biofie content team
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