For example, many institutions and most governmental agencies on the local, state, and federal level have prohibitions on accepting gifts. Gifts can be financial, meals, travel, or items of value. The dollar value of the gift may vary but the concept of accepting gifts and potential for influence is the underlying concern. Use examples and encourage questions about specific situations. Your new hire needs to have a “bright line” of acceptable vs. unacceptable behavior.
If the position includes access to secure areas, or secure information, the discussion should include guarding keys, use of ID badges, keeping areas secure,7 monitoring visitors, securing passwords, and the proper reporting of any incidents that might endanger the organization or workers.
Ethics training should not be confined to new hires, but be a part of ongoing organizational development.
Some of the most effective training in ethics involves role playing or case studies. According to several sources, solving ethical dilemmas in interactive settings produces positive impressions of the organization. Multiple methods are more effective than any single approach.8 These exercises allow the learner to see the situation and explore ethical concepts from multiple points of view, rather than just a singular, personal view. It allows empathy and exploration of the unintended consequences of behaviors and actions.
In order to make an ethical decision, learners first need to identify the moral issues involved. Some are obvious, common sense concepts, such as not abusing company property, stealing from the company, sexual harassment, insider trading, and falsifying expense reports;9 others are gray areas, such as conflict of interest, either actual or perceived. Identify the consequences of unacceptable behavior, both to the workers and to the organization.
In order to stress the importance of business ethics, all levels of the company should be involved. The rules must apply equally for all members of the organization and upper management can provide leadership by example.
Modeling expected behaviors is important. If you want an ethical workforce, you need to be ethical and not tolerate unethical behaviors.
- Nauert PhD, R. (2010). Is Cheating in High School Normal?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 28, 2011, from
Ann Marie Dinkel, RLATG, has over 20 years of facility management experience, and serves as adjunct faculty for SUNY Delhi and Delaware Technical Community College. For the past several years, she has been a consultant and trainer in Laboratory Animal Science. Ann is an account manager for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states for Alternative Design.