6 Ways to Speak Up About Ethical Issues at Work

6 Ways to Speak Up About Ethical Issues at Work

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Regardless of the roles you have, there will always be a business ethics guidelines enshrined into the company’s code of conduct. So what happens when a person violates the business ethics and what can you do if you wish to address this matter at work? Ethics violations can occur due to power abuse, manipulating other people works, workplace bullying, disrespecting colleagues, discrimination, or even stealing office supplies. So what can you do when you encounter an ethical  issue?

Considering the consequences and risk

Consider asking yourself which aspect of the value system ins under violation here? Determine whether it’s essential to you personally or to the whole organisation. Being clear about the problem will help you accurately identify the pros and cons of addressing it.

Finding out why people are risking it the way they are

When it comes to ethical situations, finding out and listening to the perspective of others is an important aspect. Instead of casting a bad light towards the person, seek to understand the reasoning behind his or her actions. Most people have their reasoning and motivation to act on it while others are forced to commit it. Put yourself in their shoes and try to determine what is their goal that they are trying to achieve.

Consider the pros and cons of the situation

If you are committed to lay yourself on the front line, you will need to consider the benefits of addressing the issue and what are the consequences if you didn’t voice out. The best outcome of voicing out is that it could help the organisation, especially if the unethical behavior is putting the company at risk from severe consequences such as lawsuits, customer relationship, or losing money. It would help your conscience as well if you did not remain silent. 

Discuss with the perpetrator first

When you think that the person is acting unethically, in most situations, you should consider talking to the perpetrator first. Generally, it’s better to give the person the benefit of the doubt and assume that, when he/she sees how his/her behavior is perceived or things will turn back. Giving the person  a chance to make things right is important. At the very least, you are giving the person the chance to explain his/her actions. That being said, if the violation can bear severe consequences, it is best to consider speaking to your boss or the HR immediately. 

two people having a discussion

Inquire first instead of accusing without any validation

Giving a pep talk on morality is not going to be the best way to go about it. The situation could even turn sour as the person starts to get defensive. The best way to approach it is to ask questions first instead of making up assertions. Ask as if you are trying to understand the situation as this would help if the person is not aware that he/she is doing something unethical and your questioning may help them see the issue. Asking questions is the safest way to gauge whether the person is going to open up to you about his/her action or whether you need to look into other means to figure out the situation. 

Escalate only if it’s necessary

If the person does not take kindly to your questioning, you should end the discussion right there and then. You can proceed with meeting up with your boss if you think that you cannot sort out the problem by yourself. Throughout the stages, be open to what you’re hearing and the varied perspectives with the upper management.

What is your take on tackling an ethical issue at the workplace? Leave us your thoughts on the comment sections below. Head over to Jobstore.com and unveil your next job opportunity.

Reach me at youjing@jobstore.com

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