Making ethical decisions is a normal part of working in the business arena. Ethical leaders show responsibility for making sure that their organization has ethical practices and stopping behaviors that are unethical and will hurt the organization. There have been many examples recently of organizations that have leaders that have made questionable, or unethical decisions or even participated in illegal activities. Good ethical leadership will challenge and put a stop to any unethical behavior that will hurt the organization. Poor unethical leadership will eventually bring down an organization and erode any trust from their customers.
When an employee of any organization appears to be making unethical decisions, leadership needs to step forward and try to understand their thoughts and motives. It is possible the employee does not fully understand they are walking on a ethical tightrope. Allowing an employee to continue to practice unethically or be part of unethical decisions will harm the reputation of the organization. When necessary, utilize the human resource department or legal or risk management department to become involved if an employee is practicing behaviors that are detrimental and unethical. If no one confronts an employee and allows them to continue with questionable unethical behavior, not confronting the individual is the same as giving your consent for their behavior to continue, in this case silence is not golden.
All organizations have a code of ethics in place because this code represents the organization's mission, policies and strategies for all employees to follow. If an organization promotes individuals that have clearly violated the organizations code of ethics, someone needs to challenge the promotion because it is ethically the correct thing to do. Having a layer of unethical people running a corporation will eventually bring the organizations down and lose trust of its customers. If individuals that report unethical behavior are punished or shunned, this is a red flag that this is not a corporation that believes in ethical practices and may be an organization that you should choose to cut ties with. Having a reputation working for an unethical organization could have very negative effects on your career currently and in the future. Talented and intelligent employees will stay away organizations that do not have good ethical policies in places, they will choose organizations that model good business practices where they can best utilize their talent and skills.
When there are signs of unethical behavior, revisit the organizations code of ethics. It should clearly spell out what is ethical and a process that is in place to address unethical or questionable business practices. If there is an ethical issues, clearly define the issue. What are consequences and specifically how does the code of ethics apply to the situation? If there seems to be resistance from other employees or leaders, this may be another red flag that they have some unethical business practices and have no intention of changing anything. The code of ethics is just a piece of useless words that have no meaning for this organization. Poor ethical behavior that is tolerated will become the icing on the cake that will eventually bring them down. The competition in the marketplace has many ethical organizations and they will be the winners in the end.
Ethics is foundation for an organization to have principles in place that clearly identity right and wrong behavior. Ethics governs the behaviors that organization has set for itself based on its values and beliefs. If employees are not following the code of ethics established by the organization, there should be consequences in place. Unethical behavior or unethical practices will hurt the organization's reputation and decrease the trust from its customers and the community that they service. Organizations that have a practice of making poor unethical decisions will not thrive and survive in the world of competitive business.