What you Need to Know

Ethics is a standard of acceptable behavior or a set of rules by which to judge decisions and conduct. In the workplace, ethics may be referred to as business ethics or corporate responsibility, but the overall idea is that of instilling a sense of values and knowledge of what is right and wrong throughout the organization.

Why is Ethical Conduct Important?

First, of course, there are the negative consequences of unethical conduct to consider. Many corporate leaders have been prosecuted and incarcerated for their unethical behavior. Furthermore, federal laws have set strict guidelines for required conduct in areas where unethical behavior is particularly risky—for example, in financial reporting. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines have placed strict legal requirements on covered employers. But there are also positive rewards for engaging in ethical conduct. Ethical conduct is good for business and is the basis for long-term success in any organization. It promotes a strong public image for the organization because people respect an organization that makes ethical choices. Customers like doing business with an organization they can trust.

Ethical conduct also makes the best use of resources. Money, time, and effort are put into productive activities rather than diverted for questionable purposes or personal gain. Ethical conduct on the part of all employees also helps maintain quality and productivity. When employees follow ethical standards, they do not cut corners or shortchange the company or its customers.