Ethical Systems in the Workplace Examples

Personal ethics

Personal ethics refers to personal moral philosophy. These according to Aristotle (1987) are personal standards that guide the morality of an individual. Research indicates that most values are acquired during the earlier stages of life. In this case, children learn moral standards from their parents and their immediate environment they interact with. Morals are, therefore, beliefs developed inside a person that guides the individual on how he or she is supposed to behave when subjected to different situations. This is evidenced by how an individual arrives at a given decision when faces the dilemma and has various options at his or her disposal. This part of the paper will examine personal ethical systems and the ground rules including their origins and development.

Among the factors that influence the moral philosophy of an individual is socialization. Childhood experiences determine the morality of an individual. Children have the tendency of copying the behavior of their parents. In this case, children refer to their parents whenever they are required to make any decision. Through reflection, children decide on whether an action is either good or bad depending on how they have been socialized by their parents. Parents in this case become the source of moral values. Parents, therefore, hold a very important role in developing moral values in their children. They form the center of moral reference for their children.

A continuous reward and punishment for different actions done by children develop in them moral values. The child considers any action that brings them a reward from their parents to be good and those that result in their punishment as being wrong. This consideration of certain actions as good and bad becomes part of the child. A child will, therefore, consider an action as either moral or immoral based on the judgment by his or her parents on the same actions. This makes morality relative in the sense that whatever an individual may consider as moral, other individuals may consider the same action as immoral. This, as indicated above, depends on how the individual’s judging the situation or action has been socialized.

I my case, I have grown to know that stealing is bad. This has been formed in me by means of the fact that my parents put it in me when I was a young child. When a child, I had the tendency to licking sugar every time my mother was not in the house. On discovering it, my mother would punish me not because licking sugar is bad but because I did it without seeking permission from her. She would tell me that taking anything that did not belong to me is stealing and that stealing is bad. Thanks to my childhood experiences, I grew up knowing that stealing is bad. This has been developed in me and has been part of my moral philosophies. This value received a major boost from my Christian teachings that stealing is breaking God’s commandments.

My moral philosophy has helped me communicate with people well in my workplace. It has enabled me to respect and honor other people’s property. This in turn has made me live with my workmates well. Holding the idea that stealing is bad has created the virtue of being faithful. My conscience has taught me to be faithful not only when dealing with other peoples’ property but with my personal duties and responsibilities. As a teacher, my moral ethics has guided me to committing my time to teaching my students to the best of my ability. I have learned how to attend classes in time and follow the teachers’ code of conduct as required. I have never faced any difficulties in following the professional code of conduct and this can be attributed to my ethical values developed in me when I was still a young child. When faced with the dilemma of making a decision out of a variety of options, my ethical value of remaining faithful has always guided me to considering the existing legal laws. I have always felt obliged to follow the law and going against it would be going against my moral philosophy.

The effects of my ethical values have been improved as a teacher. As indicated earlier, I have been morally convinced to be faithful to my duties. My commitment to accomplishing my role as a teacher has resulted in improved performance by my students. Being true to my moral conviction is ensuring that my students get their potentials. This has led me to be engaged in carrying out an extensive search for new methods to improve my teaching methods. My students have always performed exemplary well and they seem to enjoy my classes. I can attribute this to my personal ethics of being faithful to my duties.

Ethics are particularly helpful in an organization in that they help members of the organization ton to be accountable for their actions. As indicated earlier, personal ethics sure a good working environment within an organization by promoting the relationship among the members of the organization. As indicated in my case, my personal ethics of respecting other peoples’ property and remaining faithful to my duties and responsibilities have helped me relate with my workmates well. Despite the fact that morality is relative, people develop and improve their ethics rough their interaction with other people. In this case, a person can modify his or her ethical standards to suit a given environment.

This is particularly important when striving to achieve an organization’s goals. To individuals, personal ethics help them uphold the virtue of accountability and responsibility. On the part of the organization, personal ethics help in achieving the goals and aims of the organization. The effect of personal ethics on society is peaceful coexistence. Different organizations have formulated different ethical issues according to their goals and objectives. As noted by Bentham (2004), the aim of developing personal ethics is to hold individuals responsible for their actions and form a peaceful coexistence among people. Personal ethics in this case give directions to individuals, especially when making decisions. Personal ethics gives a rationale for a person’s actions (Nodding 1999).

The Ethical Systems Table

Ethical Theory or System Brief Definition Other Names for Theory Real-world Example Workplace Example
Duty-based Ethics Regardless of consequences, certain moral principles are binding, focusing on duty rather than results or moral obligation over what the individual would prefer to do (Noddings 1999). Deontology, pluralism, moral rights, rights-based

Golden rule

I think people can eat sand because it is the right thing to do As an employee, I should follow the instructions given to me by those in authority even if I hold a contrary opinion to the instructions given
Consequence-based Ethics This approach to ethics attaches value to the outcome of an action. According to this approach, people should consider the good or bad brought by a particular action and the options available before acting (Noddings, 1999) Teleology I believe that if sand is going to be eaten, it should be available for everyone to eat It is my duty to ensure that the company achieves its set goals irrespective of my action. I am, morally obliged to ensure prosperity for my company as an employee
Rights-based Ethics This approach to ethics advocates for people to pursue their interests as provided for by the law (Moore 1903). Deontology
Categorical imperative
I believe people should be able to eat sand if they want to because they are free to make the decision themselves It is my responsibility to perform my daily duties as an employee.
Human Nature Ethics Following this approach, people should do those actions that are done by others(Mill 1991) Teleological I believe people should be able to eat and if they decide they want to, regardless of whether it is someone else’s sand I should strive for the success of my company. It is th nature of humans to succeed in whatever action they involve themselves in
Relativistic Ethics Ethical relativism assumes the absence of moral absolutes. It advocates for people to be guided by the existing social norms in their actions (Mackie 1977) Subjectivism I guess people should eat and if it is to their liking I should follow the company’s code of ethics strictly. This is because the code of ethics gives the rationale for my actions
Entitlement-based Ethics This approach to ethics requires an individual to act as required by an agreed(Rawls 1971) Categorical imperative I believe I will eat sand because it is the standard meal for my community I should receive my salaries as agreed. I am entitled to receive my salary every month

When Good People Do Bad Things at Work

In the article, the main issue under discussion is moral discussion making. The author of this article presents a situation whereby bad things are done by people not because they wanted to but because they were socialized to act in a way that permits the occurrence of bad things. It is from this issue that the author names the article “when good people do bad things”. From the article, it is evident that people are guided by their moral philosophies in their actions. In this case, people realize the effects of their actions after they have already acted. In the article, the author presents people as slaves to their ethical requirements that they end up messing with. The article blames obeying the daily routine for causing ethical lapses.

When this occurs, the author indicates that people stop thinking about the outcome of their actions or paying attention to whatever they are involved in doing. Instead, the author says that people start operating like irrational objects. Their actions are merely directed by their ethical requirements. To demonstrate this, the author gives the example of business operators who instead of acting philanthropically pursue the aims of their business ventures to make profits (Moore 1903).

Shell Oil Company Case

Analyzing its mission statement, it is evident that shell Oil Company is committed to delivering the best value to its stakeholders. This is done by providing a superior offering to its customers, maintaining its high-quality financial performance, and improving its standing as a good corporate citizen of Oman by aligning its direction in a long-term sustainable fashion. From this mission statement, it is correct to say that Shell Oil Industry is fully committed to ensuring long team prosperity by maintaining its quality deliverance to its customers.

The close analysis of Shell Oil Company’s code of conduct indicates that this company has adopted the end-driven ethical approach. This is clearly indicated in the company’s mission statement that the company is committed to delivering quality value to its stakeholders. The company is, therefore, guided by the end results of its activities. With this ethical commitment in place, all activities of the company are designed in a way that will result in the growth and prosperity of the company. This has, in turn, made the employees of Shell Oil Company adapt the deontological approach to ethics. In this case, the employees are free to make decisions and act in any way provided that their decisions and actions will lead towards achieving the aims and objectives of the company.

The reason behind Shell Oil Company adapting an end-driven ethical system is in line with the company’s aims of venturing into business. The rationale of investing in any business venture according to Hume (1969) is to make profits. With this in mind, business operators must consider the end results of both their actions and their decisions with respect to the future of their businesses. Among the strategies that guarantee the growth of businesses is value addition. This is a situation whereby business managers give priority to their investors, employees, and customers. Value addition, on the other hand, is achieved by the end results of the business. Adapting an end-driven approach to ethics will help Shell Oil Company to add value not only to its stakeholders but also to its employees and customers. This approach also guarantees the company future growth and prosperity (Mill 1991).

The code of ethics gives the standard expected ethical behavior for employees and the management of any given company. It defines the relationship between the employees, the management, and the board of directors of a company. According to Rawls (1971), the code of ethics is a requirement by organizations for all its members to hold themselves to the highest standards of ethical business behavior. In this case, the code of ethics directs the interactions of all members of an organization. Traditionally, the code of ethics is supposed to give guidelines towards obeying a company’s laws, resolving conflicts of interests, and preserving any confidential information of the company. It also highlights the corporate opportunities, competitions, and decision-making procedures. In this respect, the code of ethics becomes the cornerstone of all operations of a company. As indicated in the case of Shell Oil Company, the code of ethics helps companies achieve their objectives.

As indicated earlier in this paper, the code of ethics defines the expected behavior of all parties of an organization. It includes not only the duties and responsibilities of each member but also the expected standards of these duties and responsibilities by the company. The code of ethics is, therefore, crucial for the prosperity of the organization’s affairs. The code of ethics may either be written or informally communicated to the members of an organization. Irrespective of the mode of delivering the code of ethics, it is supposed to define the expected behavior for both managers and employees of an organization. It should, however, be noted that the code of ethics does not prevent inappropriate behavior but provides the parties of an organization with legal and ethical standards that in turn guide them in their interactions within the organization. As noted by Rawls (1971), the code of ethics acts as an internal controller of the operations in an organization.

A code of ethics is particularly useful when making decisions on behave of an organization. In this case, the code of ethics does not only define who is responsible for deciding on what matters concerning the company but also highlights ion the expectations of the organization. The code of ethics, therefore, forms the point of reference when making decisions for a company. Decisions made on behalf of a company should factor in the expectations of the company as indicated in the company’s code of ethics. The code of ethics also gives a rationale for the decisions made by individuals on behalf of their organizations. In this case, the decisions will be judged according to the degree of obedience to the code of ethics. According to Sartre (2008), decisions made on behalf of an organization should be in line with the provisions of the organization’s code of ethics.

The code of ethics remains operational throughout an organization’s life. The parties involved in the organization are expected to always behave in accordance with the code of ethics. However, it is mostly referred to when solving disputes in an organization. For instance, when employees fail to perform their duties, the management uses the code of ethics to judge them. In this particular case, the mode of punishment to be given to such employees depends on the provisions of the code of ethics. It provides a measure to the management when dealing with employees.

To the board of directors, the code of ethics helps them judge the overall performance of the organization. It helps them determine the performance of the company’s management. For instance, if the code of ethics is strictly followed in the company, this is an indication that the management is performing well. It should be noted that the aim of designing the code of ethics is to create a good working environment for the prosperity of the organization. The code of ethics is, therefore, the only tool that the board of directors can use to determine the performance of the organization. Following the code of ethics is a clear indication that the members of an organization are committed to achieving the set goals (Mackie 1977).

The code of ethics creates a good working environment. It controls the interactions among the members of the organization to avoid any conflicts of interest among them. It acts as a standard for measuring the performance of both the employees and the management. The code of ethics ensures that the rights and freedoms of the employees are protected. For instance, by defining a dressing code, the code of ethics ensures that employees are not harassed by the management over issues related to dressing. Forbidding smoking at the workplace as is the case with Shell Oil Company does not only protect the health of nonsmokers surrounding a smoker but also prevents the company from accidents associated with smoking such as fires. The code of ethics ensures protocol in the workplace. By directing the interactions among the members of an organization, the code of ethics ensures respect especially to those holding higher ranks in the company. This makes the communication of orders easy and results in improved performance in the company (MacIntyre 1984).

Sears Company Case

The auto center scandal of Sears Company presents a situation whereby there is no agreement between the employees and the management. This is brought by the pressure put on the employees by the management to increase their performance. Although the company increases compensation for the work done, it gives very strict conditions to the workers. This in turn de-motivates the employees given the fact that the company had initially failed to recognize the efforts of the workers. Here, the main issue is a conflict of interests between the employees and the management. The management raises its performance expectations and ignores the interests of the workers. The compensation model introduced after raising the standard did not convince workers. The employees end up not trusting the management which affects their motivation to work negatively.

From an ethical perspective, it is the role of the management to motivate the employees. The requirements to increase production for instance could have been solved amicably if the management consulted the employees. The threats to sack employees who don’t perform further worsen the working morale of the employees. To solve this issue, the management should consult the employees on the new performance requirements and the mode of compensation.


Aristotle (1987). The Nicomachean Ethics. London: Prometheus Books.

Bentham, J. (2004). Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation in Warnock, M ed. Utilitarianism, On Liberty, Essay on Bentham: together with selected writings of Jeremy Bentham and John Austin, Meridian. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hume, D. (1969). A Treatise of Human Nature. London: Siege.

Kant, I. (1987). Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals. New York: Oxford University Press.

Mackie, J. L. (1977). Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong. New York: Penguin Books.

MacIntyre, A. (1984). After Virtue, second edition. Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press.

Mill, John S. (1991). “Utilitarianism” in Collected Works of John Stuart Mill. London: Routledge.

Moore, G.E. (1903). Principia Ethica. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Noddings, N. (1999). Ethics from the Stand Point of Women. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Rawls, J. (1971). A Theory of Justice. London: The Belknap Press.

Sartre, J. (2008). Existentialism and Humanism. London: Siege.

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