Ethics and morality are generally viewed in society as positive and required traits that everyone should possess in our modern society. It is difficult to find a concrete answer on why we should possess it except knowing in our mind that “it’s the right thing to do”. However, the “right thing” is known to be subjective across cultures and is not a universal or objective trait that humanity possesses (LaFollette, 1991).
This paper seeks to investigate a deeper reason and create critical thoughts on why ethics and morality exists in the working environment beyond the general consensus reason as stated earlier.
The idea of ethics is unique and only observably exists within humanity (Reed & Jennings, 2007). Animals care not about ethical conduct, following the idea of ‘survival of the fittest’ instead (Reed et al., 2007). There are many ethical facets in the working environment, from making sure safety regulations are met to keeping the strictest of confidentiality between professionals.
However, one can argue that ethics and morality is illogical. A classic example of the illogical nature of ethics and morality would be chemical products testing. If these products are being tested on humans, human rights activists would be up in arms, decrying the unethical conduct of the researchers. So the researchers make a compromise. They find animals that share the closest genetic framework with humans and test it on them instead (mice for instance). This is when animal activists cry out; that it’s inhuman and unethical to test it on animals as well. This is a classic case of the illogical concept of ethics and morality because if we do not test it on humans and we do not test it on animals, how on earth would anyone ever find out the efficacy and side-effects of those chemical products (Reed et al., 2007)?
However, although illogical when viewed from a scientific viewpoint, workplace ethics and morality come from a different approach. Ethics in the workplace includes factors like ‘integrity’ and ‘honesty’. Such traits in their employees are favoured by most employers. Ethics in the workplace can be viewed as black and white with no compromise (LaFollette, 1991). This is where the issue of morality kicks in. What may be ethical may not be moral.
As the saying goes: ‘honest to a fault’, there are times when the ethical code has to be broken. A classic example is in psychology, especially during counseling, the counselor maybe faced with the dilemma of a suicidal client. When determining if the client is a threat to themselves or others, the counselor has to make the call of breaking counselor-client confidentiality in order to protect the lives of others or the client (Lakeman & FizGerald, 2009). This breaks the workplace ethical code of confidentiality but yet is a moral thing to do.
In conclusion, ethics and morality in the workplace can serve as a positive guiding force. A good code of ethics ensures the well-being of the environment and a good sense of morality assists judgment on critical matters (Lakeman et al., 2009).
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