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CR May-June 2013

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CR/HR The Ethical Employer Building a values-based culture can have a significant effect on the bottom line. By Christine Stickler Employees are the keepers of a company's values and the best line These scenarios demonstrate some of the complexities employees of defense against unethical, illegal, or questionable behavior. face in the workplace. A primary influence on how employees handle Collectively, employees project an organization's culture and maintain unethical or illegal behavior is the quality and openness of their its conscience. To empower employees, companies must create an company culture. Is performance and achievement of goals secondary open, values-based culture and provide their staff with the tools and to ethics? Or has the company built its success based on its values? support they need to identify and address unacceptable behavior. Best Practices While most employees want to do the right thing, confronting Comprehensive training. Like any strategy, the company's values must ethical issues in the workplace can be difficult. Employees may justify be clearly communicated deep within. Each organization must have noncompliance with company policies as acting in the interests of the a written code of conduct to provide guidance. While employees company. They may not want to get involved or may just be unsure are the primary focus, the same ethical and legal expectations about ethical boundaries. should apply to anyone the company does business with, including Consider the following: • A production supervisor told an employee not to report a workplace contractors, vendors, suppliers, and customers. The company's code must be nurtured through training and awareness programs. These programs can be delivered live and injury to the plant safety coordinator so the plant's safety record was in-person, online, or through any number of multi-media tools. In not adversely affected. The injury was not serious, should it still be developing the materials, companies should be sensitive to cultural reported? nuances. While the core values are the same across the company, • A new supervisor is making inappropriate jokes. Employees seem to failing to localize the message may foster the misconception that the rules don't really apply in a given region or country. be laughing, so is it really a big deal? Buy-in from management. In the day-to-day, managers are clearly • A supplier made a $100 contribution in the employee's name to the most critical force in upholding a values-driven culture. Messages her favorite charity as a thank you. Should this be reported as an from company training programs are ineffective if they are not inappropriate payment? adopted, repeated, and reinforced by front line management. [30] CR MAGAZINE | MAY/JUNE 2013

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