Ethics as a Human Resource Issue


Ethics refers to the principles or rules that give a definition to the right or wrong behavior. Most of the people have a belief nowadays that humanity is suffering from an ethics crisis. The human conduct that was formally regarded as the behaviors that were not acceptable like covering up mistakes, cheating, and misrepresenting among other such behaviors have now turned out to be people’s way of life and they are deemed to be acceptable among a large section of people in the society. This behavior has spread even in the business field. The behavior that is deemed to be unethical, especially among the employees has led to business organizations performing poorly. This paper is going to look at ethics as a Human Resource issue. It is regarded that where there is ethical conduct in a business organization, there is an improvement in the performance of the organization.

Ethics as a human Resources Issue

When it comes to the field of business, managers derive benefits from illicit utilization of insider stock information among other unethical behaviors. Concern on this probable reduction in the ethical standards is being dealt with by organizations and most of the business organizations are depending on the human resource to set up an ethical culture. Ethics is an important issue to human resources. This is because whenever the employees of any organization come up with a decision to behave in a manner that is unethical, the effects are felt in the company in terms of its performance, the shareholders, the employees as well as the clients of the company. The employees in any organization come up with a lot of decisions each day and in the case where this is done in a way that is unethical, the productivity of the company is destroyed, the profits may come down as well as the reputation of the company will have to be damaged.

According to (1), since most of the ethics inquiries involve Human Resources issues, this implies that the officers in charge of ethics must carry out consultation with Human Resource and employ their skills to carry out the interpretation of the regulations, settle disputes, and carry out consultation on the mechanisms to prevent the problems in time to come.

In the workplace where the power to make decisions has been brought to even the lowest level, the employee should have the understanding of the significance of coming up with that decision right the first time. However, succeeding in dealing with ethics is not just all about the way the organization carries out punishment of those people who conduct themselves in the ways that are not ethical but it is also about the organization giving reward for the good conduct as well as bad conduct.

In order to have an effective code of ethics, the Human Resource should take caution not to leave out issues that are of significance. Such issues may include matters concerning personal character, safety of the product, issues concerning the environment, or even community, and civic issues. The underlying purpose here is that an ethics program that has to be effectual develops the morale of employees since many of the employees have a fondness to engage in working for business organizations they believe are intended ethically.

As noted by (1), Linda K. who is a business professor puts it that ethics actually works successfully in a business organization when these ethics are intertwined in the fabric of the organization and this is at the point where the Human Resources work. He suggests that in order to realize this there is need for working across the business organization with various people and most of them are supposed to be in the Human Resource department.

Ethics is not a thing one adds on a business organization, it is should be a constituent of the performance evaluation process. This is in the regard to how the employees and the executives of the organization pile up trust and honesty. There should be factoring of the ethics into the system of compensation.

The Human Resource department of any organization has the responsibility to undertake steps to offer communication as well as education to its employees and also offering training to them on how important their decisions are. This can add strength to the confidence of these employees in the situation where they take the steps that are correct ethically that may not be well-liked. The basic argument or debate is about if it is possible to teach ethics or not possible.

The business organizations having the ethics programs in place make an identification that most of the decisions that are not ethical are as a result of ignorance and not out of intentional commission (2).

The business leaders, especially the Human Resource leaders can build up behaviors and bring about corporate practices that bring down the level of business practices that are unethical and even at the same time enabling their firms to become more competitive within the market. In spite of the fact that the Companies in the United States of America are now having a lower level of ethics than ever in history, these companies have actually derived benefits of the progress in this area in the course of the recent years. This is a trend that is seen to persist if the employers still have the memories of what has been learned about in the recent years.

Ethics is not a static target. In the course of time the social values keep on changing as a result of the influence of factors in a web that is very much complex. The employers must be on the watch-out in regard to these values and where there is a possibility to practically deal with the dilemmas coming up in their organizations (10).

To deal with problems regarding ethics, as an initial step, the managers are supposed to have an idea that conflicts of interest are always there. These conflicts originate from several sources. The responsibility of the Human Resource is to make sure that the employees are aware at all times that there is a channel through open door policies where they can inquire about the issues that touch them.

Among the sources of conflict is the issue of meeting excessively insistent business objectives and assisting the business to survive (1). These two issues brings about a conflict of interest causing the employees getting to be split apart between having the obedience for the ethical standards and striving to offer service to their business organization.

A conflict of interest also stems from the situation in which the employees of the organization seek to carry out their work in a manner that is ethical but at the same time are supposed to engage in safeguarding their livelihoods. According to recent research in which the British Human Resources professionals were interviewed, it was revealed that the ethical conduct was just once in a while a function of personal values. But in most of the cases, the ethical conduct was largely dependent on the pressures that were coming from the external sources and among the major sources is the fear of putting in to danger one’s job or the possibilities of endangering one’s future employment prospects (146). The study established that this mixture of fear among the employees of losing their employment and the loyalty they had to the organization caused them to remain silent without taking any step and had to comply with the business practices that are even questionable.

The culture of the corporation is mainly responsible for letting loose these conflicts to cripple ethical decision making. In a set up where there is no consideration of ethical conduct, the employees are persuaded to believe that offering resistance to the behavior that is not acceptable is useless and can be even dangerous. According to (151), the codes of conduct that are formal, the vision of the organization as well as its mission statements among other issues impacts on a minimal level on the organization in the case where these issues are contradicted by the business practices and the actions of the leaders.

Bringing about an ethical corporate setting call for something bigger than just coming up with fresh standards and making amendments on the existing mission statement. This implies breaking up the unethical habits that in some instances infuses in the corporate cultures. This is a chance for the leaders in the Human Resources department in any particular business organization, but the setting is eventually greatly influenced by the undertakings and mind-set of the leaders themselves.


Having carried out the discussion above, it has been identified that ethics is a Human Resource issue that needs to be keenly addressed by the Human Resource department. This is quite important especially when it is realized that ethics affects the performance of any business organization.

Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Human Resource department to ensure that there is ethical behavior among the employees and even within the management in order for the organization to achieve its goals. Employees should be encouraged to conduct themselves in an ethical manner and not just conduct themselves in regard to the fear of losing their employment or putting in to danger their prospects for future employment. The business organizations should take an initiative to educate their employees about the ethical conduct and make them to be aware of the importance of having the behaviors that are regarded to be ethical and this responsibility of taking this initiative lies mainly in the Human Resource department.

There should be the understanding within the organization that, the codes of conduct that are formal, the vision of the organization as well as its mission statements, among other issues impacts on a minimal level on the organization in the case where the issues that bring about the conflict of interest are contradicted by the business practices and the actions of the leaders that might be unethical.

Works Cited

Anonymous. “Ethics and HR.” 2010. Web.

Joseph, J & Esen, E. Business Ethics Survey. Alexandria, VA: Society for Human Resource Management, 2003.

Lichnit, Carroll. “Why ethics is HR’s issue.” FindArticles. 2010. Web.

Lovell, A. Ethics as a dependent variable in individual and organizational decision making. Journal of Business Ethics, 37 (2). 145 – 163, May 2002.

Winstanley Diana, Woodall Jean, and Heery Edmund, Business ethics and human resource management: Themes and issues. Journal of Personnel Review. MCB UP Ltd. Vol 25, Issue 6, Pg 5 – 12, 1996.

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