Ethical Work Behaviour Is Shaped By…

17 08 2010

Ethical behaviour is shaped by the individuals who work at a particular business and their unique diversity.  Ethics is what guides our actions, reactions and interactions.  They are the choices we make that are right, no matter whether we like them or if we like the outcome (Curry).  “Ethics serves as the soil in which the seed of diversity must be planted,” writes Aly Colón (Colón).  Our diversity, our environment, as unique as it is to us as individuals, is what shapes our ethics; it defines the True North of our moral compass.

Dr. Bertolami states that our environment determines what we find “acceptable or unacceptable, admirable or contemptable” (Bertolami, 424).  He goes on to say:

“[Ethics] determines our conception of when things are going well and when things are going badly. It determines our conception of what is due to us, and what is due from us, as we relate to others. It shapes our emotional responses, determining what is a cause of pride or shame, or anger or gratitude, or what can be forgiven and what cannot. It gives us our standards—our standards of behavior. In the eyes of some thinkers . . . it shapes our very identities.” (Bertolami, 424)

In a compartmentalized world, there are apples and oranges, but in the business world today there are also kiwifruits and salmon and circus peanuts and about as many other individually unique items as you could find in a walk through the local grocery store.  Each person has their own history and based on that, their own morals and standards.  While in one person’s life they may view flirting as general chatter, another person may draw offense and find it bordering sexual harassment (Lindenberger, et al).  These interpretations of actions around us are what make us unique and define our own actions as a result.

The influences of co-workers and supervisors can change the environment and cause the individual to ethically react in a manner different from how they may have done so if those factors weren’t involved (Barnett).  The personal desire to succeed and excel can likewise shape ethics in the workplace.  An employee’s desire to help advance the bottom line of the company for which they work or advance themselves within the company occurs when one alters their individual ethics to tolerate the acceptable ethics demonstrated at their employment (Olver, 277).

As a result, businesses typically document the ethics they hope to aspire to within their company, so that despite the diversity, internal influences and external influences, there is a common standard to which we can adhere.  Dr. Betrolami suggests that when we realize we are at a decision point where ethics will play a factor and we react based on our life’s experiences, we are then allowing our diversity to shape our ethics (Bertolami, 421).  When we gauge our reactions to not our own experiences but rather to the standards our employer has put in place, then our ethics are shaped not by our diversity, but rather altered to meet the accepted ideal.



Works Cited

Bertolami, DDS, Charles N. “Why Our Ethics Curricula Don’t Work.” Journal of Dental EducationApr. 2004: 414-25. Journal of Dental Education. Web. 18 Aug. 2010. <;.

Colón, Aly. “Connecting Ethics and Diversity.” Poynter Online. 17 Nov. 2003. Web. 17 Aug. 2010. <;.

Conley, James H. “Ethics – Organization, Levels, System, Examples, Model, Company, Business, System, Approaches to Ethical Decision-making, Individual Ethical Decision-making.”Reference For Business – Encyclopedia of Small Business, Business Biographies, Business Plans, and Encyclopedia of American Industries. Ed. Tim Barnett. Web. 21 Aug. 2010. <;.

Curry, Myron. “Ethics In The Workplace.” EzineArticles. 31 Jan. 2005. Web. 18 Aug. 2010. <;.

Lindenberger, Judith, and Marian Stoltz-Loike. “Diversity in the Workplace.” Entrepreneurship Resource. ZeroMillion. Web. 20 Aug. 2010. <;.

Olver, Ph.D., James M., Theresa K. Lant, Ph.D., Robert Plant, Ph.D., Karl D. Majeske, Ph.D., and Steven R. Kursh, Ph.D., CSDP, eds. Essentials of Human Resources. Pearson Custom, 2009. Print.






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