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The code of ethics and code of conduct are essential documents in contemporary organizations and enterprises. The code of ethics is a comprehensive document that has a detailed guideline on how to act ethically. The code of conduct is a miniature form of code of ethics. Both documents help businesses transcend this dynamic world that is rife with lawsuits related to discrimination, workplace exploitation, and dishonest dealings. At the same time, they are important in ensuring meritocracy during hiring and performance appraisal. This paper will define these two documents, their importance, and also evaluate which one I can apply during the hiring process.
Ethical Decision Making and Hiring
The code of ethics and code of conduct are terms that are often interchangeably used in a business context to refer to procedures of good behavior. However, the two terms apply to disparate ethical documents. According to Adelstein and Clegg (2016), the code of ethics is synonymous with a constitution and stipulates the general principles that guide organizational behavior and affect policy formulation and decision making in an organization. The code of ethics may frequently outline the values and mission statement of the organization or business and how professionals should solve ethical problems. It may encompass applied ethics such as business ethics, employee conduct, or even professional practice. Business ethics are broadly used to define ethical guidelines or principles that guide the operations of companies and businesses. It covers discrimination issues, employer-employee relations, bribery and deception, environmental issues, corporate social responsibility, and insider trading. Most organizations have an elaborate code of ethics that governs members and employees. Importantly, a breach in the code of ethics often results in dismissal and termination in the company or organization.
The code of ethics is invariably followed by a compliance clause that determines penalties in case of a violation or breach. Industries such as the banking sector have enacted specific laws that stipulate how firms within the industry should conduct themselves. They have also adopted compliances that ensure these ethics are effectively enforced (Adelstein and Clegg, 2016). Employees are taken through specialized training to learn about the code of ethics and the penalties that will be meted if they fail to adhere to it.
In contrast, the code of conduct is a subset of the ethical code and provides a practical application to ethics beyond philosophy. Most organizations label codes of conduct as codes of business practices, code of ethics, code of behaviors, or code of values. The term code of conduct is individualized to phrases such as “performance with integrity” or “integrity.” Even though the code is drafted differently by disparate entities, organizations that are relatively mature and ethically developed include their mission statement, statement from the board of directors, the values and principles, the corporate social responsibility, ethical guidelines, examples of unethical and ethical behaviors, performance evaluation and commitment to the information provided in the document (Erwin, 2011).
Notably, codes of conduct differ in content and design depending on the geography, organizational complexity, type and size, cultural considerations, and industry practices (Erwin, 2011). Small organizations will, for instance, adopt a short document that covers a narrow range of ethical issues. Further, it will be less formal and will focus on the actions of the stakeholders rather than policy statements in the document.
The code of ethics and code of conduct are essential documents in an organization. Specifically, they are implemental in defining the ethical stands of the organization and dictate how conflicts will be solved or mitigated. These documents ensure that managers are mindful of employee rights and can, therefore, protect them accordingly. Managers can approach organizational problems such as discrimination, pay disputes, disparate treatment, sexual harassment, and conflicts in an unbiased and honest manner (Sabir, Tahir Naved, and Khan, 2019). The code of ethics and conduct shield employees from workplace maltreatment, exploitation, and abuse. Concurrently, they educate employees about their rights and thus give them a forum of empowering and pursuing them.
Secondly, the code of ethics and conduct simplifies decision- making. Indeed, managers and executive officers make hard decisions that are time-consuming and costly to implement. The two codes provide a clear guideline of how to make decisions in a simplified manner and with less negative repercussions. In addition, the code of ethics creates a favorable public image for the company, translating to higher sales (Sabir, Tahir Naved, and Khan, 2019). Indeed, consumers always look at companies’ actions and decisions to see whether they are moral or immoral. Consumers will often support a company that is principled and are also more likely to buy products from companies that show a desire to maintain proper ethical behavior.
The code of ethics and conduct also prevents the company from facing numerous legal challenges and lawsuits (Sabir, Tahir Naved, and Khan, 2019). Companies are always bound to face lawsuits from consumers, employees, shareholders, and even the government. Creating and implementing a robust code of conduct and ethics can save the company millions of dollars that would otherwise be used to pay fines and make settlements. Lawsuits can also dent the image of an organization, affecting its profits significantly. Maintaining a positive image is crucial to maintaining clientele. The code of ethics and conduct ensures the company avoids lawsuits, consequently preserving its wholesome reputation.
I can apply the code of ethics in the hiring process. Usually, the recruitment procedure is strenuous for managers and employers as they have to go through thousands of application letters and documents. This process is time-consuming and requires discretion. The code of ethics is, nonetheless, implemental in ensuring a fair ethical process during the hiring.
Firstly, the code of ethics ensures that the whole hiring process is legal. Indeed, some ethical codes during this process are intertwined with legal issues that must be considered. For instance, the law proscribes discrimination and businesses must be aware of this during hiring. The law categorically forbids companies from inquiring about the sexual orientation, nationality, religious stands, or marital status during recruitment. These actions are also unethical. The code of ethics ensures that work is given purely by merit and not other affiliations.
Additionally, the code of ethics helps in negotiating terms of employment during the hiring process. When negotiating wages, for instance, the successful applicants may quote wages that are below the company’s budget. The code of ethics, however, may help one to avoid exploiting the prospective employee by allowing him to revisit his wage quote. The code also ensures that the company is honest and forthright in its job descriptions. It is unethical to hire employees to work on duties that were not stipulated in the job description. Finally, the code of ethics saves the company the adverse effects that may arise from discrimination, favoritism, and exploitation. Undoubtedly, the company may find itself entangled in costly lawsuits for discriminatory hiring, find itself working with mediocre employees because of hiring based on nationality, religion, or other personal biases.
- Adelstein, J., & Clegg, S. (2016). Code of ethics: A stratified vehicle for compliance. Journal of Business Ethics, 138(1), 53-66.
- Erwin, P. M. (2011). Corporate codes of conduct: The effects of code content and quality on ethical performance. Journal of Business Ethics, 99(4), 535-548.
- Sabir, S., Tahir Naved, R., & Khan, M. (2019). Communicating business ethics: The role of ethics in the Millennial entrepreneur’s decision to start a business. European Online Journal of Natural and Social Sciences: Proceedings, 8(3 (s)), pp-75.
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