Ethics in the Workplace & Unintended Consequences

Recently I read a really powerful article by HRTC founder Vanessa Wiltshire about difficulties she has had in her career, particularly in regard to ethical practices in the workplace and the huge emotional toll that can take on staff.

We can all generally agree that;
Ethical behaviour = good
Making profit = good
Ethical behaviour + making profit = better.

But when one has to be sacrificed in times of trouble (of which there are a lot, in the private, public and NFP sector) it is so often the ethical behaviour that goes. It doesn’t happen like a switch, usually a series of decisions are made that cumulatively end up with people doing things in the workplace where their personal moral and ethical judgement is compromised.

And so often, the result of this is the creation of workplaces where borderline practices become commonplace, bullying becomes the norm, and the bottom line is championed above all else.

Don’t get me wrong, the bottom line (or if you’re progressive, the triple bottom line) is crucial. But the culture that you instil in the workplace through the unintended consequences of series of decisions can be mammoth.

For an organisation to engage its people, learn and build for the future, a great culture is a requirement. As a business leader said to me the other day, some businesses have an excellent money-making model, but if the people aren’t happy and the culture is a bit *^#$ then future growth and success are finite. Because the good people will leave. And its those people who are your greatest asset, no matter your business.

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