Professional Values and Ethics Values and ethics are foundational to any successful organization. Values are the standard against which society measures good and bad, the desirable and undesirable and the concept of business ethics is knowing what is right and wrong and then doing what is right. Important decisions are made every day in the work environment and every decision will have a financial impact on the company whether the choice is positive or negative. A company will assume the values and ethics of its leaders, which is expressed through their behaviors with their employees, customers and competitors.
These behaviors become the culture or personality of the company. Judgments on an individual’s ethics and values have long been part of the behind the scenes evaluation of one’s personal and professional lives. Ciulla defines the study of ethics as, “the study of ethics is about what we should do and what we should be. It’s about right, wrong, good, evil and the relationship of humans to each other and other living things” (Ciulla, 2003, p. xi). Ethics also can be stated as the simple task of an individual honoring those rights that are considered naturals rights of every human being.
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Values are quite similar to ethics in that they are the seen as beliefs that are both critical and enduring that a society holds important for its citizenry (Business Dictionary, 2009). It is important to note that in most cases ethics and values are culturally biased. A simpler explanation for this statement would be that what one culture or group of people holds an enduring beliefs and values which can be dramatically different from the views shared in other cultures.
An example of this would be the difference in viewpoints between those in countries that honor arranged marriages versus those whose philosophy are more in line with Western culture. Business men and woman who act on professional values and ethics throughout their career can have a positive influence on others.. If employees have not aligned their values with those in the workplace, mistrust from employees and clients often result. The actions and behaviors of upper management broadcast their values and ethics. Employees will then decide if they will emulate the behaviors of the leadership or look elsewhere for employment.
Professional ethics go hand in hand with professional values. If a company’s policy has a code of conduct and ethical expectations, they become an organizational joke if the upper level employees display unethical behavior which can have a strong influence on fellow employees and clients. An individual’s values are a culmination of influences from their culture, family, teachers, religion, friends, and other environmental influences. These values form the framework that they will make decisions about their behavior in every situation they encounter.
Their values represent attributes they believe are important to their wellbeing such as integrity, responsibility, respect, loyalty, credibility, and so on (Heathfield, 2009, Examples of Values). Within a long list of attributes that they find important there are those attributes that are more important to them than others. For instance they may find both attributes of integrity and learning as being very important to them, but having to make a choice between the two, they may decide integrity is more important to them than learning.
Individuals depend on their values to guide them through their daily lives and help them make decisions about who they befriend, who they marry, what businesses they frequent and where they work as well as the type of work they perform. Individuals who make career choices that align with their values will find more satisfying, successful careers. Career decisions are driven by an individual’s personal values, and a major characteristic of a protean career is that an individual’s career choice and the search for career fulfillment is internal (i. . psychological success) rather than external (Hall, 1996; Hall & Moss 1998). Problems will arise if an individual finds themselves in a career that does not align with their values or is in conflict with their ethical judgment, which is another way of referring to their most fundamental belief system. For example, if they were an advocate for animals living in their natural habitat they would not be successful working for a company that performed product testing on animals. This would cause a conflict that was untenable.
A person’s values and ethics in the workplace should be just as important as a person’s ethics and values in their personal lives. Shared values in the workplace can bring and individual a profound sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. When personal values and ethics are in conflict with the values and ethics of the business, the two cannot co-exist. For an individual to succeed professionally it is important that an individual seek out employment that offers them meaningful work and aligns with their values or their sense of right or wrong. References
Business Dictionary. (2009). Retrieved October 1, 2009), from http://www. businessdictionary. com/definition/values. html Ciulla, J. (2003) The Ethics of Leadership. Belmont, California: Wadsworth/Thomson Heathfield, S. M. 2009) About. com, Success in Life and Work, Identify and Live Your Personal Values, Retrieved October 2, 2009 from http://humanresources. about. com/od/success/qt/values_s7. htm? p=1 Hall, D. T. and Moss, J. E. 1998), “The new protean career contract: helping organizations and employees adapt”, Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 22-37.