Ethics and Code of Conduct

Organizations and businesses are much more than institutions made for the sake of profit. They directly affect the environment, community, cofounder, investors, employees, and customers. Therefore they should cater for the needs and interests of all the involved parties. Such dedication should be acknowledged in the code of conduct which will address primary values, specific rules of conduct, and ways of their implementation (Sanford, 2011).

1. Personal ethics is very subjective while it depends on previous experiences, present values, biases, etc. Similarly, codes of conduct addressing only one of the parties involved will be limited to meet the interests of a particular party and determined only by their experiences. Moreover, they can act together and, accordingly, share responsibility for their business performance. Therefore, company management should formulate a standardized code of conduct which will embrace roles and responsibilities of all the staff and adhere to higher commonly accepted standards of business ethics. Effective code of conduct will include rules of conduct from the parties, as well as conduct expected towards them. Active planning will help to define their responsibilities and a mechanism for taking disciplinary action against any violation of the code. Hence, it will bind on active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards, and international norms.

2. Ethical concerns rise not only in the business sphere. We often witness people practicing unethical behavior, namely, accepting advantages and entertainment which can be considered as a bribe, misusing confidential information, cheating, etc. Although responsibility for addressing unethical behavior rests with the company (or organization) leadership, the one who witnesses unethical act should not turn a blind eye to it. The witness could talk to the employee who is cutting ethical corners in case his behavior is relatively benign. However, if the action is causing harm or distress to someone else, he should report about it to a supervisor or manager. This will both benefit the company and the witness, especially if unethical behavior is also illegal. Additionally, company polices may require reporting about unethical behavior in a certain way formulated in the code of conduct.

Code of conduct should be applied to all staff across the board from senior managers, to the middle managers and front-line staff. It should have strict and fair mechanisms of enforcement. Still, enforcing ethical principles to the upper levels of management may be quite challenging. Senior managers should create company’s reputation and employees’ morale by avoiding any unethical action. However, if they resort to any wrong doing, disciplinary action should be taken as stated in the company’s code of conduct.

3. Accounts of unethical business practices like human and labor rights violations are frequently reported in the news. For instance, in 2012 newspapers burst with reports of unethical business practices in the Chinese supply chain of Apple Inc. Instances of child labor, overworking, unfair remuneration policy, corruption, falsification of records, safety violations by Apple’s suppliers were unveiled by the media (Denning, 2012). Fatal incidents at two Foxconn’s factories and appalling working conditions have shaken the country to the core. Consequently, Apple’s unethical business practices cost the company its reputation and hundreds of the potential and loyal customers.

4. Although the field of social responsibility is relatively young, there is a growing demand for socially and environmentally responsible products and services. Naturally, the field will further develop. Currently, code of conduct is used mainly by large and global businesses. However, it can be assumed that in the nearest future even small companies will realize their commitment to ensure safe working conditions, human rights protection, and environmentally responsible processes. Thus, some acts related to suppliers’ and planners’ responsibility, the rules of conduct, and sanctions for not abiding by them will be passed in the future. Finally, accountability will be an integral component of the business practice which will reflect the corporate social responsibility of the company.

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