Workplace ethics are moral guidelines specific to a business environment. They involve everything from honesty with customers to fair hiring practices to the treatment of fellow employees. Knowledge of and adherence to workplace ethics contributes to one's value as an employee or business owner, and leads to greater cohesiveness and the longevity of a business.
Business ethics generally involve honoring contracts, accountability, truthful accounting practices and honesty with regards to the quality and safety of products and services. An example of a violation of these ethics is falsely advertising the benefit a particular product can offer a customer. It is imperative businesses create a climate of trust with customers, clients and partners in order to grow and remain sustainable. These ethics apply to everyone involved in the workplace, from upper-level management to sales people and clerks.
Employer and Management Ethics
Employer and management ethics include hiring and firing practices, as well as overall treatment of employees. Ethical hiring practices entail assessing each candidate according to his capabilities and potential value to the company, rather than discriminatory or other superficial considerations. Treat employees with respect and dignity in the workplace and refrain from abusive or degrading management. Criticisms of job performance should be given privately and coupled with positive comments and encouragement. Guidelines for expected job performance should be made clear to the employee from the beginning of that person's employment. Carry out dispute resolution among employees with justice, fairness and impartiality.
Ethics are also involved during the termination of employment. Disregarding exceptional cases of extreme employee misconduct, provide employees with adequate notice of at least week when termination is necessary. If there are minor job performance issues, management should attempt to communicate with the employee and correct the problem before termination is considered.
Business owners, managers and employees should not wantonly disregard environmental concerns. This includes managing air, water and other kinds of pollution, as well as noise pollution and needlessly disrupting the surrounding community. Environmental ethics also involves incorporating values of environmental sustainability into business practices.
Sexual Harassment Ethics
Employees should be free from unwanted sexual advances and inappropriate sexual comments. This is particularly a concern for female employees, but sexual harassment also occurs to men and those with an alternative sexual orientation. Employees should always treat each other with respect, and management should create an environment where sexual harassment is not tolerated.
Respect for diversity is important in the workplace environment. Employees should be free from comments and behaviors offensive to their particular cultural differences. The workplace environment should maintain a policy of tolerance for differences of religion, race, gender, sexuality and culture. Diversity ethics extends to hiring and promotion practices.
Colleen Cowgill is an Atlanta-based writer who has been an independent freelancer since 2008. She wrote for a college publication entitled "The Sentinel" at Ohio State University. Cowgill now works in the video game industry. She studied engineering and business for three years at Ohio State University. She now studies psychology at Atlanta Metropolitan College.