Create Ethical Organizational Culture

A recent Talent article by Deanna Hartley notes that never letting ethical issues slide is a top priority to reduce landslide-style consequences. Setting specific guidelines and objectives in regards to ethics is very important for managers from the get-go. Workplace scandals aren’t infrequent but such scandals may be completely alien to your organization. Being proactive and creating clear ethical objectives for your organization is a good way to keep from chaos later.

An example of an ethical mishap is the Penn State fiasco. Being proactive instead of reflecting with hindsight could have saved a lot of heartache. “In the end, we’re judged not by what we intend to do, but by the impact of our behavior, ” Darnell Lattal, CEO and president of Aubrey Daniels International, said.

Upon discovering an unethical act, some leaders will automatically point their fingers at the performer. But instead of merely firing the person and thinking that will end the problem, leaders should look at the bigger picture and reflect on how they may have contributed to the problem.

A larger issue here is that many organizations as a whole don’t take a moment to reflect on how their organizational policies had a role in how the individual made unethical decisions. Are the ethical values and goals of the organization clear and concise? Be sure there is no space for ethical compromise in your organization’s decision making processes.

When little, everyday decisions become tainted with unethical tones, the slippery slope becomes steeper. Every decision made within the company should be based on the organization’s clear ethical objectives. As a leader, ask yourself a few questions before making decisions, to see if there are any repercussions that you haven’t foreseen. Ask questions like:

What are the short-term consequences of saying yes?

What are the long-term consequences of saying yes?

What does that do to our ethical fabric?

Do you feel right about this? Do you feel it was a good thing to do?

Is it good for our common culture?

As a leader, you must think in broader terms than what the short-term impact of your decisions are. It’s dire that you consider what the repercussions can become. The upside of this is that you also have the power to morally guide your employees to make good, ethical decisions as well. Your employees will follow your lead, and the types of decisions you make will influence the kind of decisions they make. To read more about how to create a positive ethical culture within your organization, click here to read the full article.


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