For a long time I have been interested in consulting companies; that is why I have chosen one as an example. My company consults other organizations and helps them to enhance their current state. It offers a range of services for business promotion. We provide professional advice and create a plan that the company is to follow to achieve the desired success after the consultation.
My company tends to focus on management consulting services. As a result, it assists the clients in identifying the most crucial issues and finding the best possible solutions. Our consultants search for the best business opportunities for the customers and define the steps that should be taken to benefit. It deals with “strategy, marketing, organization, operations, technology, transformation, digital, advanced analytics and mergers & acquisitions, across all industries and geographies” (“Consulting services” par. 1). We cooperate with lots of various organizations and conduct our investigations to be sure that the information we receive is valid and can be used while working.
While interacting with other companies, we often face particular problems that occur due to doubtful situations. Ethical culture is significant for us, as we need to find the best way out of them and solve the issues with minimum losses. We are to be always objective to treat our customers equally. Our attitudes should be neglected, as the consultants are to treat the clients without any prejudices. Thus, ethical culture helps the company to deal with subjective decisions and improves the working process.
Ethical Culture at Work
To promote a company, we are to evaluate all possible information about it and make up an opinion that is to be fair and objective. To understand what the organization needs to become better and enhance its profit, we are to gather all positive and negative information about the organization. Thus, we make our reports that are not influenced by the customer’s wish to present the company at its best. It means that our employees should always be honest so that in case of misunderstanding they will be ready to stand their point and take responsibility.
The employees understand “right” as everything that can bring positive outcomes to the client’s company and does not interfere with the interests of other people. That is why they value the work ethic and lucubrate, as it is the only way to provide the customer with decent services. The staff remembers that interaction is extremely important for them because it allows them to deepen into the issue taking into account different perspectives. Also, teamwork increases the level of nonpartisanship. Because each member of the consulting group has his/her view on the problem, there are more chances to find out the best fair decision.
Code of Ethics
The code of ethics of my company includes such main principles as:
- We serve our customers with objectivity and competence;
- We guaranty confidentiality (no information about the client and one’s engagements will be in public access);
- We use the information provided by a client only within our company;
- We omit conflicts of interests that may threaten the customer;
- We deal only with the issues for which we are qualified;
- We assign employees to the engagements according to their capacities;
- We inform the customers if our objectivity is influenced and offer them to withdraw;
- We charge fees and expenses that are agreed with the customer and have a reasonable basis;
- We forestall our clients about all possible fees and expenses;
- We value intellectual property rights and do not use confidential information without a permit;
- We do not promote ourselves in a deceptive manner (Association of Management Consulting Firms par. 5).
As with our help other organizations benefit, they often refer to business courtesies. Of course, we appreciate the wish of a client to build good relationships but consider that such practice may have adverse consequences. We try to omit any conflicts of interest and insist on business relations not only among the personnel but also with clients. We care about our employees and our company tries to provide the staff with safety environment for them not to have any health issues related to working place. We also let the employees change the consulting groups if they find the current environment stressful and cannot cope with personal issues.
Managers and the Code of Ethics
As my company consults other businesses, consulting teams play the greatest role in the working process. They often provide management consulting services, which makes them collaborate with managers. Thus, they share their knowledge and best practices. Of course, the success of such interaction depends on many factors and one of them is the extent to which managers value the code of ethics. As our employees stick to it, they want to see that the people they work with have the same attitude.
According to my observations, managers of the company do value the work ethic. They are hard at work; as well as consultants, managers spend a lot of time preparing their projects and planning the best possible solutions for the client’s issue. Such an approach encourages other employees to do better. They tend to learn by the example of others, so the work ethic presented by managers helps the whole company benefit (Navran and Pittman 10).
To show the customers and the rest of the personnel that they are greatly involved in the case, managers demonstrate their competence while dealing with the issues for which they are qualified. Thus, they achieve par performance and encourage consultants to work even harder.
If the managers fail to share the code of ethics, which is applied to the company and is valued by other personnel that works in consulting teams, they discourage the staff or make others disregard them and their work. The violation of the code of ethics carries penalties, which vary depending on the manager’s fault.
In some cases, managers do not work together with consultants. Then the extent to which they value the code of ethics does not influence the work of the team. However, the company insists on the fact that managers are to treat the code of ethics like other employees.
Needless to say that unethical behavior hurts the company and people who are working on it. In some cases, it can even ruin the credibility of the consulting company, which is likely to lead to the loss of clients. Fortunately, such serious issues omitted our organization. Still, sometimes we face unethical behavior.
The first issue deals with business courtesies. The clients who want to be treated in some special way or those who have already achieved success by dint of our consultation tend to present business courtesies. Even though we discourage such behavior, some employees accept the benefits received from customers. Things of this nature make us suspend them from work, as they make the consultants subjective.
The next example is the absence of benefits for working long hours. As it was mentioned, our employees do their best to please the client and present excellent solutions. Thus, they lucubrate and spend more time at work than they are to. Unfortunately, such zeal often goes unnoticed and lacks appreciation.
Sometimes unethical behavior is caused by the clients. Having some problems they do not want to share, they ask consultants to lie to their employees. We consider such actions to be wrong and underline that we do value fairness. The consultant faces the ethical dilemma as one needs to choose between our principles and the duty to follow the client’s wishes.
Being greedy some consultants may want to gain more and use their position as experts to increase the profit. Fortunately, we faced this problem only once. According to our code of ethics, such behavior is indecent and cannot be accepted.
When dealing with the client for the first time, the consultant is to gain one’s trust. However, sometimes it is impossible to achieve due to personal issues and attitudes. Of course, such problems influence the objectivity of the personnel and are likely to worsen the situation. As the consultant needs to choose between one’s interests and those of the client, the employee faces ethical issues. Not to be involved in unethical behavior, we encourage the staff to ask for termination of the contract or change the team that is working with a customer (Redekop and Health 44).
If the employees fail to follow the code of ethics, the ethical threat occurs, and ethical safeguards are to be applied, as it needs to be precluded or reduced (Embase, Desai and Ofori-Brobbey 5).
Ethical safeguards may differ depending on the issue. For example, the conflict between the consultant and the client takes place if the customer wants our employee to conduct actions that we consider to be indecent (lying to the staff or fudging particular data). In this case, the consultant is to ask for advice from the employer or professional advisor. They will consider the situation and provide a dispute resolution process.
If the consultants occur to have no enough competence or experience to cope with the task, they need to have additional training, ask a more experienced co-worker for help, and spend more time and effort to deepen into the issue. In the last resort, they may ask other consultants to take the case instead of them.
The conflict of interests may happen when one of the consultants in a team and a client are involved in some relations except for business ones. Then they are to report the employer about the issue and leave the case (“Conflicts of Interest and Ethical Threats” par. 6).
Business courtesies are also treated as an ethical threat. The safeguard includes one central point – the employees are not allowed to accept any inducement. They also should inform the employer about the issue.
Our company admonishes the consultants about all possible penalties, including termination with prejudice and judicial examination, to deal with the disclosure of the confidential information.
Progress Regarding the Ethical/Unethical Behavior
As the company adopted these measures to deal with ethical threats and unethical behavior, we observe particular progress regarding the issue.
First of all, the number of ethical problems reduced. The employees started to ask for assistance from their superiors and other workers. They are not afraid of being derided or punished because they lack experience and are not sure how to act in particular situations. Their mutual help and co-operation occurred to be of advantage for the company and enhanced the organizational climate. Working in a positive environment makes the process less stressful and increases productivity.
As the employees are encouraged to attend training, they become more competent in various spheres and learn how to deal with ethical threats. Thus, we experience less unethical behavior, as it is presented in the majority of cases.
While preparing a report about the client’s organization, consultants feel self-assured. They do not yield to the customer’s requests and demands if they ask to change the data and violate the code of ethics.
Unfortunately, yet we have not coped with all issues. The personnel still often spends more time at their workplace than they bargained for. In this way, consultants improve their competence and knowledge, which is of advantage. However, their efforts are not appreciated apart from their duties, which may decrease their motivation.
I believe that with the help of ethical safeguards, which we adopted, our staff started to feel more assertive. They are on firm ground and know what to do in doubtful situations.
Recommendations to Minimize Unethical Behavior
To create the plan for the client or to assist one in finding a solution the consulting team is to prepare a fair report about the company. Still, the customers do not always want to share the real information and try to improve the data to present themselves in the most favorable light. Thus, they mislead the consultants and reject our need for honesty, which violates the ethical standards of our company. This issue is the most common one, but it is rarely considered because the employees omit it. They pay more attention to other aspects, such as serving the customers and meeting their requirements. To cope with this problem, I would recommend the employees to communicate with superiors of the client’s company and people who support our concept of fairness. If such things do not help, they should refer to the employer.
Safeguards for Improvement of Ethical Standards
We have already adopted a range of concepts targeted at the minimalizing of unethical behavior, but still, there are things to be improved. We should pay more attention to our employees as they do their best to accomplish the tasks. I believe that the company should apply some benefits to motivate the members of the staff who overwork to please the customer. Of course, there should be a distinction between the situations when one stays after work to complete something because was not able to do everything in time (was not efficient), and when a person conducts extra research or other assignments to please the client (due to the working overload). I would recommend providing the last group of employees with additional days of vacation or extra payment. Thus, the consultants will be encouraged to follow the code of ethics and their right to have a decent salary for the services will not be violated as well as their right to have free time and spend it according to their liking.
Association of Management Consulting Firms. n.d. Code of Ethics. n.d. Web.
Conflicts of Interest and Ethical Threats 2012. Web.
Consulting services 2015. Web.
Embse, Thomas, Mayur Desai, and Kwadwo Ofori-Brobbey. “A New Perspective on Ethics Safeguards.” SAM Advanced Management Journal 75.3 (2010): 4-51. Print.
Navran, Frank, and Edward Pittman. “Corporate Ethics and Sarbanes-Oxley.” Wall Street Lawyer 7.2 (2003): 10. Print.
Redekop, Benjamin, and Brian Health. “A Brief Examination of the Nature, Contexts, and Causes of Unethical Consultant Behaviors. Journal of Practical Consulting 1.2 (2007): 40-50. Print.