Survival guide: Perspectives from the field

The Ethics Resource Center (www.ethics.org), the country's oldest non-profit devoted to promoting organizational ethics, published its National Business Ethics Survey this month.

The Ethics Resource Center (www.ethics.org), the country's oldest non-profit devoted to promoting organizational ethics, published its National Business Ethics Survey this month.The Washington organization's report, which spans 1994 to 2005, asked employees in the private, non-profit and government sectors about ethics and compliance in their workplaces. The results: Maybe the world isn't as full of cheaters as we think.Staff Writer Roseanne Gerin talked with President Patricia Harned about the report's findings and ethics in the contracting and government communities. How do you define business ethics? We refer to it as clear standards and norms that help employees distinguish between right and wrong behavior. Are people more ethical today than a decade ago? It's about the same. While formal ethics and compliance education programs are on the rise, the measures we collect regarding culture have remained fairly constant. It's the program that strengthens a culture ? a company's efforts to focus on how well top management is communicating ethics and how much supervisors are holding employees accountable. Those are things that go beyond the actual program. Those haven't changed a lot over time, and they make a big difference. What was the report's most important finding? First, 52 percent of employees observed some type of misconduct in the workplace, and that is a measure that has not changed very much over the past five years.Second, we've seen a rise in the number of companies that have implemented ethics and compliance programs.Third, we found that while ethics and compliance programs do make a difference, the culture of the organization makes a bigger difference. So if all a company does is implement a program that's compliant with regulation, [that's not enough.] There's also a need for it to look at the culture, because it has a more powerful influence than the program. How do you define misconduct? Acts that constitute abusive or intimidating behavior toward employees, lying to employees or customers, conflicts of interest, safety violations, misreporting of time, e-mail and Internet abuse, discrimination, sexual harassment and theft. How has technology affected ethics? We asked employees if they observed Internet and e-mail abuse, and 13 percent of employees across the country indicated that they have seen abuse of the Internet and e-mail in the past year.Technology has raised a lot of ethical questions about how private your e-mail should be, how you make use of the Web in the work that you do, how binding are the commitments you make by e-mail and, in the securities industry, how binding are recommendations that are made over instant messaging.The fact that the Internet and technology have increased our ability to communicate quickly adds pressure to people's jobs. As much as it does good things, it also adds complications. What are the benefits of technology? For companies that are trying to distribute a code of conduct and communicate ethics as a priority, technology has helped them do that. You can train 100 percent of your employees no matter where they are in the world with e-learning. How can government contractors and agencies instill ethics? For government contractors, it's similar to a lot of other organizations. There's an agency called the Defense Industry Initiative on Business Ethics and Conduct that's made up of government contractors in defense.Its purpose is to have a self-governing standard above and beyond the government standard for those contractors, so that they do business in an ethical manner.And the things they do are fairly consistent with what you see across industries: developing codes of conduct, training employees and providing help lines for whistle-blowers.They also try to address the culture of the organization, talk with management about holding employees accountable and get top management to communicate that ethics are priorities. How can government contractors and agencies guard against a few bad acts so as to not give the impression that all their workers are unethical or corrupt? It's a part of doing business that when you have more than a few employees, there's the likelihood that misconduct could take place. We've also seen that when misconduct becomes a big attention draw from the media, those companies suffer because of the acts of a few people. In government agencies, as much as anywhere else, there's a need to be able to point to good, solid efforts by the organization to address ethics.There's also a need to point out the positive things that employees do; that is, to point out that they do business in an ethical manner. It's helpful when misconduct does take place to be able to say, "But here's the larger history of our organization."

Patricia Harned, president of the Ethics Resource Center

Courtesy of Patricia Harned







WT:

Harned:

WT:

Harned:

WT:

Harned:





WT:

Harned:

WT:

Harned:





WT:

Harned:

WT:

Harned:







WT:

Harned:


X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.