31st July 2023

Ethics and how we ensure integrity throughout our organization

Ethical behavior matters. Employees who have high ethical standards are proactive to help solve problems with work colleagues and clients. While so-called “micromanagers” prevent good work from getting done, “good bosses” that develop their teams’ talents and are generous with praise increase personal productivity. Whether we are in a management position or not, there are many ways we can encourage ethical behavior in our workplace. We spoke to Sandra Schengen, Corporate Psychologist at Spuerkeess, who provides insight and five useful tips around the topic.

1. What is ethics and integrity in business and why is it important?

Ethics and integrity refer to moral principles and values that guide the conduct of individuals and organizations within the context of business. They involve making decisions and engaging in actions that are honest, fair, transparent, and socially responsible. Ethics in business encompasses honesty, truthfulness and transparency to customers, shareholders, and stakeholders. It entails treating all individuals fairly and equitably, regardless of factors such as race, gender, religion, or socioeconomic status.

In a nutshell, ethics englobes the respect for any stakeholder. This translates into respecting everyone’s rights, interests, and dignity, always adhering to legal requirements and regulatory frameworks.

Integrity, however, relates to the consistency between an individual's actions, words, and values. It involves maintaining high moral and ethical standards, being trustworthy and reliable.

Ethics and integrity go hand in hand. They matter in the workplace because they build trust which is the foundation of strong relationships and long-term success. On a global level, customers are more likely to support businesses that portray ethical conduct. Ethical practices can also enhance employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention. They reduce the risk of legal issues, leading to reputation damage. Ethics and integrity differentiate a company from its competitors and, thus, create a competitive advantage.

2. How can companies demonstrate ethics and integrity in the workplace?

The first step is to develop a comprehensive code of ethics that outlines the organization’s values and expected behaviors. Another step is to implement clear polices and guidelines around key ethical issues and to provide regular ethics training for all employees. Other ways are to establish a safe and confidential mechanism for all employees is to report unethical behaviors, ensure fair employment practices, treat all employees with respect and dignity as well as to integrate social and environmental responsibility into the overall business practices.

To conclude, it is important to conduct regular audits and evaluations to assess compliance, identify areas for improvement and maintain transparent reporting practices

3. What are the biggest threats to integrity in a business?

The biggest threats are unethical leadership and lack of ethical values among leaders. Leaders who prioritize personal gain over ethical decision-making can compromise the integrity of the organization. Another threat is a lack of accountability. When there are no consequences for misconduct, employees may be more inclined to engage in unethical practices. Finally, a lack of transparency and conflict of interests are important threats to integrity in a business.

4. What role do managers and human resources play?

Managers and Human resources play a crucial role in ensuring integrity throughout their organization. Managers should lead by example and foster an ethical culture within their teams. They must incorporate  integrity in their own actions, decisions, and interactions with their employees by communicating the organization’s values, ethical standards, and expectations of their teams. They also need to make ethical decisions, monitor employee behavior, identify potential ethical lapses.

Human resources are responsible to develop and implement ethical policies, such as a code of conduct, anti-harassment policies and conflict of interest guidelines. Furthermore, they should select candidates who align with the organization’s values and offer training in ethics. Finally, they need to establish reporting mechanisms, collaborate with legal and compliance teams, and provide support to employees who raise ethical concerns.


5. What are your five useful tips to employees that may not be in a management position but still want to create positive change at work?

  1. Regardless of your position, act with integrity, honesty, and fairness.
  2. Speak up and encourage open communication.
  3. Educate yourself and share your knowledge with your colleagues.
  4. Raise awareness by engaging in collaborative efforts.
  5. Proposing updates in policy, processes, and procedures so that your company can increase transparency, fairness, or accountability.

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