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Ethics, the beginning of culture

Welcome to today’s column. in line with “Culture”, we had a zoom meeting in  the “Box And Cedar Breakfast Series” last Tuesday. We talked a lot about what makes up culture and how to go about building it. Last week we had looked at a few ideas on how to build culture.

There was a question during the meeting about what kind of culture we should be building also whether or not culture is easily changed or should we just have one static culture. The conclusion drawn was culture must really be divided into two. One half that never changes and the other half that has to be easily adaptable to the change around it.

Today I will be looking into culture that all organisations should have that forms the bedrock and must remain the same. One of the conclusions from our meeting is the importance of the CEO or the owner of the business being the one who initiates culture building. Culture actually starts with the organisational Mission, Vision and Values.

Ethics should form the bedrock of culture. The definition of ethics is the standards of conduct that indicate how one should behave based on moral duties and values which themselves have been derived from the principles of right and wrong.

Ethics is important because it forms the basis of how we relate and react with each other, both internally at work, in our families and externally with all the stakeholders in our lives. From all the Black Lives Matter riots and protests it is clear that we must get our ethics right because they actually form the lenses through which we see things and therefore reasons for how we act and react.

Having ethics is doing the right or moral thing when no one is looking. Making choices that may not always feel good and seem like a benefit to you, but are the right choices in the end. We have all heard the golden rule “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. This dovetails into your recruitment because ethics starts from when one is young and it is possible but difficult to teach good ethics to somebody who has grown up in life with poor ethical training.

Personal ethics is the foundation of a moral compass, the internal guide that tells us what is right and wrong. They drive our actions and emotions on a daily basis. Research has shown strong evidence that people everywhere articulate some version of the same five core values.

Trustworthiness, which includes truthfulness, sincerity, loyalty and integrity. Respect which includes courtesy, Responsibility which includes diligence, continuous improvement and self- restraint. Justice, that includes fairness, impartiality and equity. Finally Caring that includes kindness and compassion.

Workplace ethics are a set of rules based on the moral virtues of hard work and diligence. This holds the belief in the fact that work has the ability to enhance character. These are characteristics such as trustworthiness, respect for others, personal responsibility, a caring, compassionate attitude and good citizenship which includes a respect for the rights of others as well as a positive and enthusiastic attitude to work.

There are examples of bad work ethic but we will not go into that. As they say the banks do, they teach their tellers to recognise real currency such that when they see fake currency, they recognise it immediately. Examples of good work ethics that must be sustained are, prompt and regular attendance, good character in each individual that encompasses the five values mentioned above, productivity which means ensuring deadlines are met on time and projects are completed on time and within budget.

Teamwork, the ability to work in a team where everybody is sold out to the same vision and work together to ensure that the vision is carried out in the best possible way. Communication skills, verbal, non-verbal and written. Respect for self and each other. and good clean dressing and on the offensive appearance for self and each other and good clean dressing and on the offensive appearance.

Good work ethics like fine wine takes years to develop, however as they say the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. If you have this already in place well done, if not don’t be daunted just start with one step. Begin today because organisations that develop high levels of ethics function more efficiently and more effectively.

Good ethics embedded in your culture gives your organisation a great reputation, fosters trust and unity within staff and gives employee commitment.

I know that I said initially that culture and ethics starts with the founder or CEO of the organisation, however it is the responsibility of management, to inform staff, that the responsibility for ethical behaviour lies not only at the top of the chain but wherever decisions need to be made. Each person in every organisation makes numerous decisions each and every day both on the job and off it. Almost every decision involves some ethical issue or impact, therefore the responsibility for the ethical standards and reputation lies in the hands of each individual regardless of level.

Finally, ethics has a price and sometimes we must choose between what we want and what we want to be. Fortunately, ethics also has a value which makes self-restraint and sacrifice, service and charity, worthwhile.

High ethical standards in organisations is neither a luxury nor an abstract ideal, rather, they are vital aspects of protecting and enhancing the organisation’s brand image and ensuring its long-term business survival

Above all a high level of ethics in your workplace should be in place at least for the customers if anything, it is the customer that should be considered the most when it comes to ethical work practices. in the long run a company will reap great profits from a customer base that feels it is being treated fairly and truthfully

The last few weeks has been impacted by various deaths from the COVID-19 virus and non-COVID-19 causes. Some have been brutal like the rape in Benin city and some have been quiet, like sleeping and not waking up. This period is truly a time for introspection. As we go into the weekend, I hope we will all be introspective and look at our old personal ethics even as it affects our organisations, our country and humankind.

Have a great weekend and see you next week.



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