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ATD 002: Introduction to Law and Ethics
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1.2.1 Ethical Norms

  • Ethical norms provide guidance for all organizations in terms of acting ethically and refraining from engaging in unethical behavior.
  • They encourage ethical behavior in organizations and set the stage for a cohesive working environment that is characterized by justice, honesty, neutrality, and accountability.
  • Norms may be defined as standardized ways of conduct and behavior (e.g., treating everyone fairly) in a society, company, or other organization.
  • Examples of ethical norms are:-
  1. Responsibility.
  2. Honesty.
  3. Respect.
  4. Fairness.
  5. Transparency.
  6. Citizenship.

1.2.2 Theories of Morality

  • Morality is a set of principles that enable people to live together in groups.
  • It is what societies deem “correct” and “acceptable.”
  • Acting morally sometimes necessitates putting one’s own short-term interests aside to benefit society. Individuals who violate these guidelines may be deemed immoral.
  • Morality isn’t fixed. What’s considered acceptable in your culture might not be acceptable in another culture.
  • Geographical regions, religion, family, and life experiences all influence morals. 
  • Morality is a set of principles that guide us in determining what is right and wrong, and it develops a person’s personal character, reasonable behavior, and choices, as well as assisting people in justifying their decisions, goals, and actions throughout their lives.
  • The moral standards that we maintain and practice hold the fabric of any society together.
  • Our personal values are our beliefs about what is important, unimportant, right, wrong, good, and bad, all of which are associated with morality.
  • When faced with a variety of options, opinions, or moral dilemmas, the choices we make reveal our values.
  • Morality bestows worth and respect on life.
  • The theories of morality are:-

1. Utilitarianism

  • You may have heard of utilitarianism before.
  • It is one of the best-known and most important moral theories out there.
  • Like other forms of moral theory, its main idea is that whether actions are morally right or wrong is based on how they affect the people they affect.
  • More specifically, the only effects that are important are the good and bad results that they have.
  • Utilitarian ethical theories are based on one’s ability to predict the consequences of an action.
  • To a utilitarian, the choice that yields the greatest benefit to the most people is the one that is ethically correct.

2. Deontology

  • In decision-making when ethics are involved, people should follow their obligations and duties.
  • This is called the deontological class of ethics.
  • This means that a person will keep his or her promises to another person or society because that is what is right to do.
  • When a deontologist promises to do something, he will always do it.
  • He will also follow the law.
  • Because deontological theory is used, people who follow it will make very consistent decisions because they will be based on their set responsibilities.

3. Virtue

  • The virtue ethical theory judges a person by his/her character rather than by an action that may deviate from his/her normal behavior.
  • It takes the person’s morals, reputation, and motivation into account when rating an unusual and irregular behavior that is considered unethical.

1.2.3 Universal Moral Principles

The  six universal moral values for corporate codes of ethics are proposed including: –

  1. Trustworthiness;
  2. Respect;
  3. Responsibility;
  4. Fairness;
  5. Caring; and
  6. Citizenship.

1.2.4 Ethical Dilemmas and Unethical Conduct

  • An ethical dilemma (ethical puzzle or moral dilemma) is a difficulty encountered during the decision-making process when choosing between two possible options, neither of which is completely ethically acceptable.
  • Although we face numerous ethical and moral dilemmas throughout our lives, the majority of them have relatively simple solutions.
  • These dilemmas have been part of the human experience since the dawn of creation. 
  • According to Kidder, there are four dilemmas:
  1. Good for the unit versus good for the whole.
  2. Good for the short term versus good for the long term.
  3. Truth versus loyalty.
  4. Justice versus mercy.
  • Unethical behavior is an act that goes against what is morally right or proper for a person, a job, or a business.
  • Individuals, businesses, professionals, and politicians can all act unethically, and so can everyone else.
  • Examples of unethical behavior can be found in all types of businesses and in many different areas.

  • In the workplace, unethical behavior certainly includes any deeds that violate the law, such as:-
  1. Theft or violence. 
  2. Failure to Honor Commitments
  3. Disregard of Company Policy
  4. Taking Credit for others’ work. 
  5. Telling a lie

1.2.5 Code of Ethics

  • A code of ethics is a list of the rules and best practices that an organization should follow in order to be honest, ethical, and professional.
  • Members of a company can be punished for breaking the company’s code of ethics, which can include being fired.
  • A code of ethics is essential for organizations to adopt in order to ensure that everyone in the company understands the company’s mission, values, and guiding principles.
  • The five codes of ethics are:-
    1. Integrity.
    2. Objectivity.
    3. Professional competence.
    4. Confidentiality.
    5. Professional behavior.

1.2.6 Integrity

  • Integrity is defined as the practice of being truthful and adhering to strong moral and ethical ideals and values in a constant and unwavering manner.
  • Integrity is defined as the honesty, truthfulness, or accuracy of one’s acts in ethics.
  • Integrity can be seen as an opposite to hypocrisy in that evaluating using integrity’s criteria include valuing internal consistency as a virtue and recommends that parties who hold seemingly contradictory ideals within themselves should account for the gap or change their beliefs.
  • Aspects of integrity include:-
    1. Honesty
    2. Respect
    3. Generating trust
    4. Responsibility
    5. Keeping promises
    6. Helping others

1.2.7 Confidentiality

  • The definition of confidentiality is the state of being secret or of keeping secrets
  • Confidentiality is important because:

    1. It builds trust.
    2. It promotes confidence.
    3. It prevents misuse of confidential information (illegal or immoral use).
    4. It protects reputation.
    5. Employment may depend on it (e.g. non-disclosure agreement).
    6. It ensures compliance with the law

1.2.8 Independence

  • In general, independence entails the ability to operate with integrity, objectivity, and professional judgment.
  • Independence is divided into two elements:-
  1. Independence of mind. 
  2. Independence of appearance.
  •  The former is still defined to include integrity, objectivity and skepticism.
  • The latter is defined as being free from ‘facts and circumstances’ that would lead a reasonable and informed third party to conclude that integrity, objectivity or skepticism was compromised.

1.2.9 Conflict of Interest and Related Party Transactions

  • A conflict of interest occurs when personal (or self-serving) interests collide with professional duties or responsibilities, making an entity or individual untrustworthy.
  • When a person prioritizes personal benefit over their responsibilities to an organization in which they are a stakeholder, or when they use their position for personal advantage in some way, it is called a conflict of interest.

1.2.10 Whistle Blowing and Relevant Protection Mechanisms

  • Whistle blowing means calling attention to wrongdoing that is occurring within an organization.
  • Organizational whistleblowing is a way for businesses to cut down on the chances of malpractice and irregularities.
  • Employees and other people who have a stake in the company should be able to blow the whistle, which increases the chances that managers will find out about irregularities that need to be fixed quickly.
  • So, organizations that take their Code of Conduct very seriously will put in place things that make it easier for people to report problems at work, like a secure corporate whistleblowing system or hotline and a policy or set of rules for reporting problems.
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