Ethical Leadership

Creating an Ethical Work Environment

Ethical leadership is one thing. But your personal code of ethics won't realize its full potential unless you implement ethical standards throughout your workplace. Here's how it's done in some of the best small business work environments.

It's a simple equation: Values influence behavior and the right behaviors produce bottom line results.

Creating an Ethical Work Environment

As a business leader, that's something you learned in Business 101. But do your employees recognize the value of an ethical workplace?

For most companies, the unfortunate reality is that the leader's ethical value system hasn't trickled down to everyone in the business. Yet without total buy-in, your company will always run the risk of engaging in questionable business practices. In some cases, an inconsistent company ethic can create conflicts about the organization's goals and strategies.

The burden of creating an ethical work environment falls to company leadership. If your workplace is currently underperforming in the area of business ethics, it's time to redouble your efforts to emphasis your ethical priorities in both your words and actions. Here are a few tips to help you create and sustain an integrity-rich work environment.

  • Controlled decision-making. Impulsive decision-making is often a sign of a morally bereft work environment. Rather than carefully evaluating the consequences of their decisions, decision makers can fall victim to decisions that are rooted in personal gain. Establish decision-making procedures to ensure that all of your organization's decisions are in the company's best interest.
  • Equitable policies. One of the places workplace integrity is most visible is in the company handbook. Fair and equitable employee policies communicate volumes to your workforce. A careful review of your current policies can simultaneously promote company ethics as well as legal compliance.
  • Consistent policy application. It isn't enough to document equitable policies - you'll also need to make sure your policies are applied fairly and consistently. Although exceptions are sometimes necessary, they can damage your efforts to maintain an ethical workplace.
  • Fair compensation. The surest way to create a workplace that is ripe for ethical breaches is to exercise unfair compensation of your employees. Pay grades and other compensation standards communicate that the business is committed to just and equitable dealings with its employees, and make it easier for company leadership to demand the same level of ethical standards from the workforce.

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