By Russ Howard
Several months ago, we introduced our series of KnowledgeBoosters. These posts are skills development tips and techniques delivered in “quick hit” fashion – we know you’re busy so we want to keep them short but useful! Each one also includes reference to a relevant course from our e-learning courseware collection, a book and an online article on the topic to allow you to learn more.
In August we discussed rebuilding trust if you’ve betrayed it. This KnowledgeBooster is on Workplace Ethics.
Introduction to Workplace Ethics
Ethical Approaches in the Workplace
The concepts that underpin modern ethical approaches come from a branch of study called moral philosophy. Virtue, utilitarianism, deontology, egoism, relativism, and subjectivism are six ethical approaches.
Virtue ethics: Doing the right thing is the best way for an individual to be happy. Good behavior and virtuous acts are the keys to self-fulfillment.
Utilitarianism: What matters is not actions themselves, or the intentions behind them, but their consequences. The right thing to do in any given situation is what will produce the best result for the greatest number of people.
Deontology: People should do the right thing out of a sense of duty. Each action should be taken not based on individual desires or potential consequences but on a commitment to what is right.
Egoism: The right thing to do is that which is best for you. Egoists look at the potential consequences of their actions and choose the course of action that is most likely to benefit them.
Relativism: There are no absolute, fixed ethical principles. The standards of right and wrong are different in different cultures and time periods. What’s right depends on your background, and no particular values are more ethical than others.
Subjectivism: There is no such thing as fixed ethical principles, as when people describe things as right or wrong, they just mean that they approve or disapprove of them. Morality is about feelings, not fact, and right and wrong are simply ways of describing your own opinions about things.
In the workplace
Imagine a workplace as a miniaturized version of society. It’s an organized system where what one person does affects everybody else as well. When you choose to become an employee in any given workplace, you enter into the group freely. You get certain benefits from being part of the group and in exchange, you take on the responsibility of representing that group through your words and actions.
Consider these approaches to ethics and how they can help guide you to follow your conscience to do what’s right and to set a standard for fostering ethical behavior throughout your organization.
Course:Introduction to Workplace Ethics (pd_18_a01_bs_enus)
Book: The Business Ethics Activity Book – 50 Exercises for Promoting Integrity at Work