Competition has gone global and the market and industry dynamics have necessitated the need for companies to make concerted efforts streamlined towards ensuring that high-quality goods and services are offered in the market at competitive prices. This has resulted in the adoption and implementation of several tools and strategies geared towards the aforementioned goals attainment. One of the strategies that have been roundly embraced by a multitude of companies is the adoption of high ethical standards within the operational culture of most organizations that have led to a paradigm shift towards best codes of conduct. However, a lot of studies carried out in this field point out that a lot of companies that have sought the above initiatives are struggling with the implementation of high standards of codes of conduct.
Ethics is defined as that “discipline that deals with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation” (Sims, 1992). This is because HRM plays the role in attracting, recruitment and retention of employees. The main points of the HR focus should be risk assessment, standards and procedures, defined roles, designated officials and communication. In addition to the above, it should also focus on internal reporting and assessment of programs. Risk assessment refers to the guide in the development of training content, organizational code of ethics and auditing procedures that all ensure high levels of compliance with industry regulations.
Standards and procedures are defined by Nahavandi (2006) as policies and procedures that define the internal operations of an organization while defined roles underline the responsibilities of the boards of directors and seniors management in the development of a sustainable organizational ethics program. The fourth point that HRM should focus on is the designated official which refers to the responsibility of an official within an organization to foster ethical program in an organization. The role of effective communication within both the internal and external environment cannot be underestimated. In fact, it has been observed that it emerges as one common training program in most organizations. Within ethical program, the HRM must play a critical role in developing a culture of effective communication. This is because, the methods applied in the communication of ethical programs should not only be practical but also relevant. Internal reporting refers to the system of probing employees’ concerns. An organization is best placed to retrieve the best data on employee concerns if the process adopts high ethical standards. Last, the program assessment means an evaluation of the effectiveness of organizational internal programs in line with its values and culture.
The reason behind the need for HRM to be actively involved in ethics program is not particularly hard to discern. This is because they form the fundamental department that takes up the role of recruitment and promotion of employees. The selection and promotion of leaders within an organization should be guided by the culture of internal selection that gives priority to its staff. The involvement of HRM in ethical program is based on the fact that leadership influence method of selection and promotion of other leaders involve the techniques of giving important management assignments and projects to an individual that will set tone for a shift in an organization culture that aims at marinating the ethical standards of an organization. Other examples in this process include promoting individuals to join the upper echelon class, giving them opportunities to handle complex assignments, issue policy statements on behalf of the organization and make major direct decisions. Such management styles give a chance underlines the role of HRM in impacting on the development ethical program in an organization.
Human resource has the capacity to influence the ethical program of an organization in a number of ways. This is because of its role in the selection and promotion of other leaders within the organizational ranks. The connection between the HR and ethics in an organization cannot be separated because both involve the management of human capital. According to Schramm (2003), “individuals who head ethics department in most organizations have legal or human resource background.” In addition to the above, Human resource is responsible for planning, staffing, employee appraisal, recruitment, training, remuneration and reward management. All these aspects of an organization influence the ethics of an organization. According to Thomas (1991), “human Resource professionals are likely to be challenged daily with issues that present ethical dilemmas because of the choices that HR professionals make, or guide others to make, may affect the productivity, profitability, and the public image of their organization.”
Training that forms one of the critical roles of HRM has the capacity to improve the ethical standards of a company. Most organizations have taken very active roles in the training of employees on ethical standards. This explains the reason behind the existence of ethical officers within its ranks who not only train its employees internally but also interpret various emerging codes of conduct. This is to enhance and solidify the relationships between the management and the employees. “Self- discipline and ethical training programs provide the foundation for making difficult decisions in ethical relationships” (Kinicki & Kreitner, 2009). The critical roles of modifications and appraisal systems that are roles of HRM if strategically applied within the organization’s management in influencing employee behavior cannot be undermined.
In addition to the above, the chief roles of ethical officers within an organization is to develop internal ethical policies and guidelines, train employees of ethical standards and ensure that the ethical standards are adhered to by the employees. These include reward management, role modeling and a culture of selection and promotion of internal staff members. These have the capacity to ensure that the organizational culture of the bank is maintained and codes of ethics remain sustainable.
Whereas all departments of an organization require some measure of ethical standards, some departments demand a higher level of ethical practice than others. This sis because of the fact that failure by some departments such as accounting to adhere to high levels of ethical practices in regards to internal reporting may lead to expensive legal suits. Whereas a number of laws have been set to ensure ethical behaviors in workplace such as deterrent of corrupt practices, such unethical behaviors continue to occur in the workplace and the impact of an ethical behavior in ne department may lead to serious consequences than those in another department.
In conclusion, ethics play fundamental roles in understanding whether an organization will successfully survive in the current business environment characterized by stiff competition and overzealous media. The management thus plays a critical function in ensuring that ethical standards are being upheld within an organization. The whole process of achieving high standards of ethical behavior demands the input of everyone within an organization. Education and training thus remain the core indicators by which an organization can measure the levels of ethical behavior.
Kinicki, A and Kreitner, R. (2009). Organizational behavior, skills and best practices (4th ed.). Boston, McGraw-Hill.
Nahavandi, A., (2006), The Art and Science of Leadership. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Schramm, J. (2003). A return to ethics? HRMagazine, 48(7), 144. Web.
Sims, R. (1992). The challenge of ethical behavior in organizations, Journal of Business ethics, 11, 505.
Thomas, R.R. (1991). Beyond race and gender: unleashing the power of your total workforce by managing diversity. New York: Amacom Books. Web.