Professional ethics are a set of values that individuals should strive to follow. These values include kindness, compassion, integrity, responsibility, tact and follow-through. Companies can choose to include their interpretation of professional ethics in the employee handbooks or it can be an implicit expectation. Social responsibility encompasses the responsibilities of individuals to the society at large.

Professional Ethics in the Workplace

Professional ethics are a set of standards that are used for making decisions in the workplace. Managers use these standards to clarify decision-making when there are gray areas relating to the topic on hand. The use of ethics prevents professionals from taking advantage of other employees or the company. Employees who are ethical build trust and respect amongst others at the company which can lead to more opportunities within the organization.

Social Responsibility

Employees can be socially responsible by making decisions that enhance the welfare of the people around them. Socially responsible behavior enhances teamwork and improves the overall productivity of the organization. Effective managers perform business and social audits to obtain an over-all picture of how their team is performing. The scope for social responsibility extends beyond the workplace as well. People who are socially responsible work toward developing their communities and neighborhoods. Individuals can choose to volunteer in neighborhood watches, community cleanup activities and any other activity that impacts the greater good of their community in a positive way. Corporations can extend their scope of social responsibility by partnering with community organizations to develop local communities.

Socially Responsible and Ethical Decisions

Employees can respond in different ways when making decisions at work. Researchers at Cal Poly Pomona have defined social responsibility within the context of the workplace as the duty of the manager or employee to enhance and protect stakeholders. They categorize the response to this duty into several categories. According to them, a resistive or defensive response where the employee is looking after her own needs is not considered socially responsible. A proactive response where the employee is standing up for herself and others on her team is deemed socially responsible as the employee is actively watching out for the welfare of stakeholders within the company. Allegheny College researchers divide personal and social responsibility into the five dimensions of striving for excellence, integrity, community contribution, taking into account other perspectives and developing ethical reasoning. All five of these dimensions should be taken into account when making socially responsible and ethical decisions.

Promoting Professional Ethics and Social Responsibility

Companies can promote professional ethics and social responsibility by specifying a clear code of ethics in the company handbook. Companies can also choose to implement a incentive system that encourages ethical behavior. As an example, employees who consistently make ethical decisions can be applauded and given positions of greater responsibility. Product development teams can include the betterment of the community as a whole as a goal when developing new products.