Ethics in the workplace
By: Shirley Halgrimson, Financial Administrator (now CFO)
At TSE we strongly VALUE our TSE Code of Ethical Conduct and Code of Professional Conduct. I always say that our Job Descriptions tell us “what our job is” AND our Code of Ethical Conduct and Code of Professional Conduct tell us “how we do our job”.
Shirley Halgrimson, TSE Finance Administrator wrote the following article as part of a class assignment. It represents the ethics of TSE and TSE employees well. Thank you for sharing this with us Shirley! –Lynne Megan, President and CEO
Ethics is a word that many use loosely, so it is important to discuss the definitions of personal and professional ethics before making any conclusions. Personal ethics can be thought of as one’s conscience, moral or faith beliefs, whereas professional ethics is the adherence to a professional code within the business place. Some of the ethics you use in your personal and professional life should be honesty, loyalty, respect, integrity and courtesy. Is there a difference between personal and business ethics when it comes to the workplace? Many people feel they have a different set of ethics in both their personal and professional lives. Professional ethics are more specific because it addresses the workplace while personal ethics are more general and comes from core values and faith. However, many would agree these ethics should be the same.
Most businesses have a written code of ethical conduct in place. This is often a statement of commitment to certain ethical behaviors within the workplace. Business ethics are behaviors to which everyone within the businesses should adhere to. While businesses have their written code of ethics, most people do not have a written code of personal ethics in place. Business ethics and personal ethics can be the same in certain aspects. For example, financially, all businesses should comply with any federal, state or local rules and regulations, pay their bills on time and follow the rules of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), while personally you would most likely have some of the same ideas such as, paying your bills on time and filing your taxes by the due dates.
As employees, it is our responsibility to follow the ethics that the business owner has set in place. However, companies have to deal with unethical behavior amongst their employees every day. An employee’s unethical behaviors in the long run can defame the company, cost hard cash, reduce share price and dampen business prospects. In contrast, whether the organization will be vibrant and productive depends on work behavior, including managers’ job performance, organizational commitment, job satisfaction and initiative.
In the end, ethical decisions, whether personal or professional, deal with moral issues. A moral issue is present whenever individual actions, when performed freely, may harm or benefit others. Thus, the actions or decisions may have consequences for other people and involve choice on the part of the decision maker. An ethical decision is defined as “a decision that is both legal and morally acceptable to the larger community” whereas an unethical decision may be regarded as “either illegal or morally unacceptable to the community.”