Assignment 1: Discussion—Ethical Considerations
Each person comes from a different sociocultural background even if the backgrounds are similar. As such, each person brings a separate set of beliefs and values that are reflected in his or her ethics. Organizations operate in much the same manner; each organization has various environmental influences that shape beliefs, values, and ethical standards and practices. When organizations from different countries attempt to work with each other, imagine the potential for chaos given that not only do the organizations have ethical differences, so too do the individual leaders and managers in each organization. When you factor in the broader stakeholders in each country with similar types of ethical differences, chaos seems unavoidable. However, organizations manage to effectively operate despite ethical differences every day.
Consider the aforementioned aspects, and using the module readings and the Argosy University online library resources, research the impact of ethical factors on OB. Then, respond to the following:
- How do ethics factor into organizational behavior?
- How might the deontological and the consequential perspectives of an organization’s leaders and managers affect working with people in different countries?
Be sure that your response does not simply state that something is ethical or unethical. It should be founded in ethical theories or perspectives. Give reasons and examples, supported with appropriate academic literature, when developing your responses. Be sure to cite to APA writing standards for paraphrases and direct quotes.
By the due date assigned, post your response to the appropriate Discussion Area. Through the end of the module, review and comment on at least two peers’ responses.
Write your initial response in 300–500 words. Your response should be thorough and address all components of the discussion question in detail, include citations of all sources, where needed, according to the APA Style, and demonstrate accurate spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Module 5 Overview
Though only briefly discussed in some of the previous modules, ethics and diversity are important issues that will continue to pose challenges for organizations. As organizations become increasingly diverse, OB will arguably take on a new persona. No longer will organizations be made of only one or perhaps a few ethnicities, races, or even generations. As the world shrinks, people with different socio-cultural backgrounds will continue to interact and work together, both virtually and physically. However, each person will still bring individual beliefs, ethics, and value systems to the organizational matrix.
Ethical challenges will emerge beyond those exemplified by corporate scandals in the latter twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. How leaders and managers prepare their organizations to work with people from countries whose ethical business practices do not align with US based ethical codes of conduct will prove challenging. However, to remain competitive many organizations will seek business dealings in emerging countries and likely, they will encounter ethical challenges as value systems will not align not only between the two countries, but sometimes even between people in the host foreign country, as people based in different regions may have different value systems.
Managing diversity to minimize or eliminate prejudices will be even more challenging given the diversity with regards to generation, gender, race, ethnicity, etc. How to ensure people, including leaders and managers, see the value in diversity for the synergistic value garnered through what each individual brings to an organization will be a continuing challenge.
The ways in which such complex diversity will be managed in order to maximize functional efficiency will continue to be explored over the next several years. When reviewing this module’s readings, consider not only the physical complexity of a highly diverse organization but also how the underlying diverse ethical beliefs may drive OB.
Ethics and Diversity Issues
Certainly, the discussion of ethics should be concerned with the types of ethics that drive decisions, as what is perceived as ethical and unethical has a foundational ethical construct such as what might be found within normative ethics such as deontology, consequentialism, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, etc. A person’s and even an organization’s ethical action can most often be positioned within a normative ethical argument.
Ethical behavior means conduct that is good or correct as perceived by the larger majority of the populace. While young, people are generally taught what is good or right by elders who expound the virtues of honesty, truthfulness, integrity, kindness, etc. Unethical behavior applies to individuals who tend to steal, lie, cheat, and do other activities that go against the conformed social norms of ethical behavior. Such individuals are often driven by circumstances and/or the need for monetary gains.
Similarly, organizations are also expected to display ethical behavior. As customer satisfaction forms part of an organization’s primary goals, it has a moral responsibility toward the society based on broad principles of integrity, fairness, product quality, employee wages and benefits, and social and environmental considerations. Despite this, the history of business has been rife with cases of organizations displaying unethical behavior. Society has been shocked by immoral behavior such as money laundering, insider trading, and the use of child labor by companies to which societal members have been loyal.
In this module, you will learn about ethical behavior and why it is a concern for organizations. You will analyze the factors that can make an organization behave unethically. You will also learn how ethical behavior can result in strong monetary gains for an organization.
Another area of OB that is a challenge for organizations is diversity management. Today, organizations comprise people from different social, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. Also, the gender ratio in many organizations no longer favors males as much as in the twentieth century. While organizations have adopted policies for providing equal opportunity on moral grounds, they have not fully understood the economic implications of hiring diverse groups of people who are ultimately the main players in an organization.
An organization’s policies and practices are global and binding on all employees. However, due to the innate uniqueness of each organization’s behavior, psychology, and goals, people’s acceptance of, and adherence to, these policies and practices differ.
People in an organization might have various natures, as people may be timid, irritable, bold, self-conscious, overconfident, etc. In any given situation, people behave and act differently. Therefore, a challenge facing organizations is ensuring that all people, irrespective of their individual differences, follow the code of ethical conduct and diversity management programs.
Ethical conduct has become a major component in corporate training practices. The many corporate ethics scandals that came to light in the latter twentieth and early twenty-first centuries contributed to revising ethical conduct policies. For some organizations, the ethical conduct policies were not revisions; rather it was the first time such policies were instilled.
Code of ethical conduct policies are applicable to all members of an organization, from the CEO to the newest hired, lowest level position employee. Technology has allowed training for such policies to take place asynchronously, or at the employees’ convenience.
One potential pitfall in some of the earlier designs was that employees could skip through the materials and the system would count them as having completed the training. This concern has been alleviated, as employees are now required to view each page and take a quiz at the end, with the quizzes sometimes being scattered throughout the training. Systems have been designed to eliminate the ability of employees to skip through sections of the training; now all sections must be viewed and quizzes must be completed.
Does your current or past organization(s) have a code of ethical conduct policy? Has the organization always had this policy? If not, think about when the policy was adopted and mandated into corporate training. Likely, there was some negative pushback from employees being required to take the training for the first time, and employee reactions may have varied based on differing diversity factors.
One of the most important tasks while managing OB is to analyze the different personalities, ages, gender, generations, etc. in an organization. This is also a useful indicator for monitoring an organization’s ethical behavior. Consider whether the broad categories of individual differences in the organization you have selected might affect a change effort. How will you handle the ethical problems arising out of these individual differences?
What defines the ethical conduct of an organization—companies that actively support social and philanthropic causes; or, companies that provide quality products and services at affordable prices and treat their business partners, employees, and society fairly?
Drafting an ethical code of conduct for an organization is as much a tool for generating profits, as are initiatives like Total Quality Management (TQM). Ethical codes of conduct became common after some early twenty-first century scandals in both the private and government sectors. For an organization whose ultimate goal is customer satisfaction, any act that is likely to cause customer dissatisfaction is arguably unethical. This not only includes acts such as money laundering, which directly affect customers, but also acts such as employing child labor, forcing people to work in sweatshops, low wages, poor working conditions, extremely long hours, no breaks, etc., which make people see the organization in a poor light and indirectly cause customer dissatisfaction.
With company actions becoming increasingly public and transparent, customers are actively interested in the activities of the organizations to which they are loyal. While advertisements and promotional initiatives by an organization win customers’ trust and loyalty, any instance of immoral behavior that becomes public knowledge causes irreparable damages. Organizations that display corporate social responsibility (CSR) and have a clean reputation show more profitability than organizations that are purely business minded.
Leaders and managers need to realize they are perceived as the organization. Any action that reflects poorly on them also reflects poorly on the organization. Many of the scandals of the early twenty-first century were attributable to leaders. As a result of the leaders’ actions, the customers often regarded the organization as having the same unethical practices. Also, there are systemic effects of leaders’ unethical actions that are far reaching. Perhaps jobs are lost, investment monies forfeited, etc. and not just in that one organization, but in organizations that are associated as suppliers, distributors, and even customers.
Reflect on these aspects of ethical behavior to create a strong ethical foundation for your course project. Research some of the unethical organizational and leaders actions that have disrupted the lives of people and organizational function.
The workforces in organizations are becoming increasingly diverse. In the past, managing this diversity and providing equal opportunity to all people was perceived as a moral and social responsibility. However, organizations are now realizing that a diverse work group also brings in new perspectives, and the different ideas help in terms of problem solving and innovation. In short, there is value and synergistic opportunity in diversity, which aligns to the post-bureaucratic and global leadership considerations discussed in previous modules. Diversity in the workplace has begun to make more business sense for organizations in the twenty-first century.
Diversity management involves creating an environment that is free of prejudice toward other people, and where people are sensitive to each other’s cultures and behaviors. The process of diversity management needs to be ongoing, measurable, and integrated into the system. While the concept of diversity management needs strong support from the leaders and managers for effective implementation, once implemented, the organization needs to monitor whether the concepts are being put into practice at every level of the organization.
Many organizations have implemented mandatory diversity training programs for employees. Rather than monitoring the balance of diversity from a human resources perspective, diversity training focuses on educating employees regarding the various factors or types of diversity, and to bring a conscious awareness to the strengths of a diverse workforce. Diversity no longer refers only to race or gender; diversity training now includes generations, gender, age, hair color, body art or piercings, dress, etc. Diversity training programs intend to bring a diverse employee base into one unified body that can strengthen the organization.
Some organizations even have diversity departments. The purpose of diversity training programs and diversity departments is to emphasize the advantages of valuing the diversity of people in a good way instead of focusing on diversity as potentially creating problems.
Consider the following questions in order to use best practices to encourage and motivate diverse work groups in the context of a change initiative.
- What are the other elements of diversity management?
- What is the difference, if any, between diversity management and an affirmative action plan?
- How diverse is the workforce in the organization you have selected to transform into a learning organization?
Module 5 Summary
In this module, organizational ethics pertaining to OB were discussed. Ethical behavior means conduct that is good or correct as perceived by the larger majority of the populace. While young, people are generally taught what is good or right by their elders who expound the virtues of honesty, truthfulness, integrity, kindness, etc. Unethical behavior applies to individuals who tend to steal, lie, cheat, and do other activities that go against the conformed social norms of ethical behavior. Leaders who act unethically also reflect similar conduct on the organization, as people often perceive the leader as the organization. Hence, organizations need to ensure that all individuals act according to the code of conduct as specified by the organization.
Another challenge regarding OB is individual differences. Each person brings a different set of skills, learning experiences, issues, expectations, etc.
Twenty-first century organizations are often multigenerational workplaces. They have a diverse workforce in terms of gender, age, ethnicity, and race. This diversity affords more value and synergistic opportunities that help the organizations become successful.