Personal Ethics in an Organization

As a supervisor with employees providing services and other activities, you have many responsibilities to oversee their work and their activities and adherence to ethical practices.

Frequently, a supervisor’s responsibilities include interpreting whether coworkers and employees are indeed behaving in a manner consistent with organizational ethics, professional ethics, and even the ethics of state, county, or city jurisdictions.

Suppose you are working in an organization that encourages employees to participate in workshops and seminars for professional development. You are responsible for approving reimbursement expenses. To participate in this activity, employees must travel away from the organization, spend a few days, spend money from their pockets, and then turn in a report to get reimbursement for expenses. For employees, it is sometimes easy to let the numbers slip a little if the guidelines for on-the-road expenditures in the organization are not very detailed. One employee has expenditures that include mini-bar items, laundry, tickets to a concert, room service, and transportation costs to and from the airport. A second employee has expenditures for transportation to and from the airport, three meals for one day, and incidental charges for newspaper and candy. You notice that the first employee has expedited considerably more than the second employee, and they were both attending the same professional development seminar. What is your response to this situation? How do you deal with the employees, if at all?

Discuss your understanding of professional ethics as a general set of principles. Explore the basic principles offered by the National Organization for Human Services in its ethical code, and then explain what ethical standard you would apply in this situation.

Draw on your reading in the Becoming an Ethical Helping Professional text of Chapter 3 at page 54, “Recognizing the Moral Dimensions of Professional Knowledge,” page 55, “Legal Concerns and Fears as a Driving Force,” and page 58, “Distinctions Between Codes and Laws,” to explain the difference between codes and laws. (See, in particular, page 58 in the text).


Organizational Ethics and Situational Ethics
Suppose an employee engages in an office romance that involves in-office sexual activity. The employee is originally from Chile, where there are sanctions against such behaviors, and the behavior is against the law in the state. The employee feels “liberated” away from the home country and believes that “freedom” means the ability to do as you wish. This approach to situational ethics demands a response from the leadership in the organization.

Discuss your understanding of situational ethics and the relationship between government laws, ethics, and this person’s situational freedom. What is your approach to resolving this dilemma? Draw on Chapter 2, page 34 of your Becoming an Ethical Helping Professional text to further elaborate on your consideration of situational ethics.

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