Irish Diaries Ethics
Respecting Customer Information
Many businesses collect the personal information of their customers, whether it’s payment information, health information, or similar. One of the priorities for any business should be securing and protecting this information. For example, a hospital may create and enforce aggressive policies around staff sharing patient information on social media. Having an employee share this kind of information on their personal accounts is not only disrespectful of the patient’s privacy, but could also put the hospital at risk of violating HIPAA regulations.
Providing Resources for Reporting Unethical Behavior
If an employee notices unethical behavior in the workplace, they should have an outlet to report these behaviors. The business is responsible for putting this infrastructure in place and designing it in a way that insulates the employee from harm. For example, a research university should have a neutral office of compliance that is organizationally detached from the research arm of the institution. This provides a neutral space where academics can report unethical studies or harmful practices without fear of workplace repercussions.
Putting Customer Needs First
Companies that build their workplace culture around putting customer needs first and hiring people who engage in this behavior are participating in ethical behaviors. For example, if a customer comes into a store looking for a product that meets very specific needs, it’s important to provide them the best product for the situation described instead of upselling them or encouraging them to buy a product that won’t meet their needs. However, it is important to ensure that the “customer first” attitude does not unintentionally result in the unethical treatment of employees — such as encouraging them to work more overtime than allowed, forcing them to endure abuse from customers with no safe way to escape the situation, and more.
Transparency and clear communication is paramount when it comes to ethical workplace behaviors. Employees and consumers alike should never be lied to or told untruths, as this breaks trust within the business. For example, when faced with a public relations crisis, companies should call a meeting and address the problem directly with their employees. It’s important to truthfully describe the situation as it unfolded, present solutions, and accept criticism humbly.
Prioritizing Workplace Diversity
Part of being fair is providing everyone with an equal opportunity to be employed at the company. While there is much political debate around how to create workplace fairness, it is undeniable that providing equal opportunity for employment to every applicant is an ethical standard. For example, if someone notices that management tends to hire the same type of person, they may suggest getting employees more involved in the hiring process. This will introduce different perspectives to the hiring process and increase the possibility that different kinds of applicants will be selected for a position.
Achieving trustworthiness typically involves being transparent and honest in all actions and communications. Being trustworthy can have a positive impact both internally and externally. Consumers appreciate openness, as it provides them with insight into how a business operates and conceptualizes the work that they do. Employees also appreciate this quality in a business that they work for.
Showing respect for employees and customers involves following through on all promises — and providing sincere apologies and appropriate compensation if anything falls through. Showing a lack of respect will deter customers from engaging with a business and lower a business’ reputation. It will also do significant damage to employee morale and increase turnover.
Treating customers and employees with a sense of fairness and justice is a key type of ethics. Manipulative behaviors aren’t just unethical, but they are also unhelpful — and the top priority of any business should be to be helpful to its customers and employees. It is also important to treat all people equally.
Businesses, at the end of the day, are composed of human beings. There are human beings that consume goods or services from the business, and then there are human beings that work to produce those goods or services. Being open to their struggles and coming to the table with solutions will show empathy — a valuable tool for any business to utilize. Showing a sense of caring and keeping the lines of communication is not just the ethical thing to do, but can also boost internal and external perceptions of the business.