Whatever time it may be, dear readers, allow me to say good morning! I say good morning because I want you to imagine waking up to a new day while listening to Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror. Now, if I may ask, whom do you see yourself as? A principled person? Someone who brings the highest level of ethics to your work environment consistently? Right! Hold on a second, you may have to reevaluate your position as you read my article.
Lapses in workplace ethics occur every day despite organisations having employees’ handbook of conduct. These lapses can range from insider dealings, expense account looting (such as the Cashgate at Capital Hill), nepotism and the like. As executive director of Public Private Partnership Commission, Jimmy Lipunga said in his presentation at the ICAM Professional Discussion Forum recently, “breakdowns in fundamental ethics do not necessarily need to go as far as the mentioned high levels to impact our surrounding”.
Indeed, ethical breakdowns occur as a result of simple unimaginable issues such as printing machines or toiletries.
In his book Workplace Morality, Behavioral Ethics in Organisation, Prof Muel Kaptein argued that “serious concerns like this put organisational boards in a fix. If the violation does not constitute a straight forward case for ejection, directors need to exercise judgmental calls about the right course of action and how much to disclose. The executive could be a leader who might be running the business well and acting too quickly could prove risky. If the board fails to act with urgency though, rumours may leak out—implying that the organisation lacks control of the situation and could be reflected in the number of high profile executives resigning,” as was the reported cases at FPAM during this time.
This view supports the 2010 survey on Ethics and Workplace conducted by Deloitte Global, which highlighted that Staff turnover rate are likely going to be low where employees believe that they are being treated fairly and their senior executives can be trusted.
Nowadays, conflicts of interest are such a critical issue, we all need to have a high level of thoughtfulness to ethics because it reflects poorly on the organisation, or our nation in general and can jeopardise shareholder’s and donor’s confidence.
My Workplace Ethics Guide
Every employee has to take the challenge and demonstrate the moral fibre of who they are as human beings by creating a balance between lifestyle and professionalism. Ethical behaviour goes hand in hand with being a professional in your workplace. Professionalism is exercised by being; responsible, thorough, accountable, punctual etc.In summary (no short-cuts). Here are my few examples which employees often time overlook as being problems with ethics. Feel free to pause for moment and relate to your own examples. My solution? Back to the song Man in the Mirror. If you were in the same position be it an accounts assistant or a senior executive at the centre of the “Cashgate” would you have talked to that man in the mirror and say no to the dirty millions of kwacha flowing your way?
(i) You are having an affair with a fellow employee while married and you believe that no one at work will ever know, as it is a no strings attached, you keep telling yourself that you can get away with it. Your personal games are your own business, how the game plays out will not affect the workplace. As they say in the urban world “Game recognizes game” chop my money… Right?
(ii) You claim to be a valuable team player yet you hide office supplies in your desk drawer so you won’t run out while fellow employees go without supplies that they need to do their work. Excuse me! Where is the goal congruency?
(iii) You come across a piece of sweet gossip about another employee appearing on this so called “list” that some Malawians have been using on the social network to assassinate each other’s character and then pass it on to other coworkers. It is crystal clear, whether the gossip is true or not, is not the main issue at all. Trust me!
The author is co-founder, CEO and senior consultant at Prestige Business Consultancy-innovators. He holds an ACCA and MBA in Financial Services. Feedback: email@example.com