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According to Florea, Cheung, and Herndon (2013), ethical behavior necessitates the collaboration of every employee in a business, starting with the bosses. The activities of the employees under the guiding principles of business operations are where the most ethical concern is laid out. Simply expressed, ethics in business operations aims to instruct both the employer and the workforce on how to collaborate most effectively to achieve the organization's objectives. As an ethics officer, you must make sure that the company's ethical policies are always followed by both the employer and the employees in order to preserve a healthy working environment. Additionally, the ethics officer need to ensure that the rights and responsibilities of the employees are preserved at all times to provide a suitable working environment in the organization. Michaelson, Pratt, Grant and Dunn (2014) note that satisfying employees by protecting their rights in the activities they undertake in a company, fosters the growth of a company since the employees perform their duties and responsibilities to meet the overall goal of the organization. Ethical practice in an organization needs to involve the employees and the employer so as to set the desired expectations, providing guidance and consistently doing the right thing.
The employees in the media auditing firm's scenario are tasked with engaging in ethical practices in their working for the company. This is achieved by having their rights and responsibilities clearly outlined and protected by the ethics officer at all times. The first right for the employees in the media auditing firm involves the mandatory attendance of an annual ethics training. These annual ethics training programs are organized by the ethics officer of the company to give insights on the company ethics that need to be followed and the consequences that pertain to the violations of theses ethics. Secondly, every new employee must go through an ethics training to make them understand the corporate ethical policy including those that suit the operations of the media auditing company. Lastly, the employees are tasked with the responsibility of forming groups to work through the training development materials that are presented in two-day ethics training session.
The employers need to provide the appropriate materials and training for every new employee as it is an ethical obligation if they are to provide a compulsory ethical training for their new employees. This ensures that the training runs smoothly and is taken up by the employees with interest. Additionally, the use of hypothetical ethical scenarios in training staff should be formulated by the employers based on the ethical issues that the media auditing firm faces in their activities. Determining the best cause of action to be followed based on the hypothetical scenarios formulated, should be left for the employees to come up with so as to evaluate and have the employers recommend what is best and suitable for the media firm.
An example of an ethical scenario that can be taken up is in the event that when the company has bumped into a story that involves one of their top investors. The top investor has been linked with a corruption scandal in the government and is currently facing investigation by the public prosecutor’s office. There are rumors surfacing that it is a plot by other investors to kick out the top investor from the company. Based on the ethical training of the employees in the media auditing firm, should they look into the story? And should they allow for its publication?
The involvement of a top investor of the media auditing company in a scandal, indeed requires a proper approach towards the actions that the firm should take up. If the organization decides to publish the story, the investor may pull out and it may lead to the collapse of the company. Another scenario is that if the media auditing firm does not have the story published they will not be doing their job. Alternatively, the story may not be true and the media auditing firm may have let a false story be published if the rumors are true. Applying a utilitarian and relativistic perspective is a proper approach towards determining the best cause of action to follow. According to Morales-Sanchez and Cabello-Medina (2013) utilitarianism involves making a decision that is practical and will not be inclined to favor any side but provide the best judgment with regards to the consequences. Therefore, based on the dilemma facing the media company, the consequence that will prove vital for the company’s survival must be taken to account. If the media auditing firm does not let the story be published, then the top investor will not pull out but face the consequences of not doing their job which can be maneuvered. Based on utilitarian ethics, that would be the best cause of action. Hayry (2013) agrees that the aim of utilitarian ethics is to provide the greatest satisfaction to the majority.
Alternatively, the employees may face an ethical dilemma in their working in the firm which involves them personally or the company. For example, if a junior employee is sexually harassed by a senior employee, what would be the appropriate course of action to take? Another ethical decision the employees may face is in the event they uncover an issue of corruption within the company, what is the proper way to handle it? Each of these decisions tasked to the employees creates an ethical dilemma since if they do not forward the cases to the appropriate channels they risk losing their jobs if they keep quiet about it, they either face harm or it will lead to the collapse of the company. Most individuals justify unethical behavior as something that exists and fighting the problem will only lead to them losing the jobs. Knoll and van Dick (2013) report that most employees do not report unethical behavior due to the fear of losing their jobs. This is true as most unethical behavior is carried out by senior officials and the juniors are intimidated since they have their jobs to lose.
Another ethical issue that affects most organizations is personal goals of employees working in the company. Most employees have personal targets that they have set for themselves during the period they work in a company and often if not met leads to some ethical violations. Most common is stealing from the company whereby an employee gets their hands on illegally acquired resources from the company. Second is bribery, whereby the employee gives bribes to gain a promotion or a position in the company. And lastly, some religious beliefs may not allow the employee to meet their work hours, as a result, they will always be in conflict with the employer creating a bad working relationship.
In conclusion, ethical practice in an organization needs to involve the employees and the employers so as to set the desired expectations, providing guidance and consistently doing the right thing. Ethics training is done to ensure that the employees in an organization are conversant with the corporate ethics and responsibilities that are also geared towards protecting them at the workplace. Employees need to understand the various corporate ethics and corporate responsibilities to improve their ways of work as well as advance the development of the organization. A suitable employee and employer relationship need to be established at all times at the workplace so as to impact on the goals of the company positively. Ethical decision-making and the appropriate course of actions in the event of an ethical dilemma, provide the employees with the tools to progress their personal goals as well as work towards attaining the set objectives by the organization.
Florea, L., Cheung, Y. H., & Herndon, N. C. (2013). For all good reasons: Role of values in organizational sustainability. Journal of Business Ethics, 114(3), 393-408.
Hayry, M. (2013). Liberal utilitarianism and applied ethics. Routledge.
Knoll, M., & van Dick, R. (2013). Do I hear the whistle…? A first attempt to measure four forms of employee silence and their correlates. Journal of Business Ethics, 113(2), 349-362.
Michaelson, C., Pratt, M. G., Grant, A. M., & Dunn, C. P. (2014). Meaningful work: Connecting business ethics and organization studies. Journal of Business Ethics, 121(1), 77-90.
Morales-Sánchez, R., & Cabello-Medina, C. (2013). The role of four universal moral competencies in ethical decision-making. Journal of Business Ethics, 116(4), 717-734.
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