Chapter 4: Ethical Communication in Organizations

4.5 Identifying Organizational Ethics and Values

How important is it for you to work for an organization that has values and ethics similar to yours? One of the biggest ethical challenges in the workplace is when the organization’s ethical behaviors do not meet our own personal ethics. For example, suppose you believe strongly that child labor should not be used to produce clothing. You find out, however, that your company uses child labor in China to produce 10 percent of your products. In this case, your personal values do not meet the societal and stakeholder values you find important. This kind of difference in values can create challenges working in a particular organization. When choosing the company or business we work for, it is important to make sure there is a match between our personal values and the values within the organization.

Since we know that everyone’s upbringing is different and had different role models, experiences, religious influences, etcetera, create various forms of institutional artifacts that articulate its values. One way an organization communicates its values it it’s internal code of conduct reflected in the organization’s policies and procedures. Policies and procedures outline many things, and often companies offer training in one or more of these areas: Sexual harassment policy, employee privacy, insider trading, use of company equipment, company information nondisclosures,  expectations for customer relationships and suppliers, policy on accepting or giving gifts to customers or clients, etcetera.

Organizations also communicate their values and ethical stance via their mission and value statements. For example, companies create values statements, which explain their values and are tied to company ethics. A values statement is the organization’s guiding principles, those things that the company finds important.

Closing

The question “Is this ethical?” is not easily answered, and organizational ethics is a complex topic.    There are a variety of domains, types, and perspectives that affect the answer to this question, and we have only be able to scratch the surface of these topics in this short section of our reader.

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Organizational Communication by Whatcom Community College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.