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Ethics can be defined as the study of situations and decisions where issues of wrong and right are collectively or individually addressed.Ethical issues reflected in different people are often very controversial, and they vary significantly. Crane and Matten (2007, p.4) argue that ethics exist to evaluate decisions or situations as ethical or unethical, respectively morally right or wrong. By comparing ethics with law, partial similarities can be identified. Some ethical rules, regulations or proscriptions are in fact enshrined in act. For example, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. asserted that his being in Birmingham was not for fun when he said, “I am in Birmingham because injustices here” (Martin Luther King 1). In this regard, there is no law against animal testing although it is an ethical issue in the society. On the other hand, the law set the traffic rules. However, the law does not provide guidance for every situation (Crane and Matten 4).
In matters relating to ethics, Crane and Matten (2007) indicated that the media, consumers and pressure groups are increasingly interested in values. Therefore, some of the potential reasons for upholding ethics are to contribute to and promote group interest. However, the lack of it is likely to harm the society and raise the demands of stakeholders. Moreover, the authors argued that inadequate ethical knowledge in many areas created a situation of continuous ethical violation. Providing leaders with the ability to cope with ethics can lead to improvement of an individual or group’s competence to deal with the daily life (Crane and Matten 9). Over the last years, ethics experienced changes and rapid development. One important reason for this argument is the process of globalisation. Globalization can affect the needs and behavior of stakeholders, and it fosters crucial ethical issues such as child labor, nepotism, legal issues and accountability issues (Crane and Matten 14).
Importance of Ethical Behavior
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. noted that in a group, ethical behavior is imperative, because it plays an integral role in helping it achieve the desired management standards (Martin Luther King 1). It also forms the culture of the group and fosters the relationship between the stakeholders. Importantly, the analysis of the group’s ethical human behavior is very essential in making ethical managerial decisions, bearing in mind the need for consistency to the international principles of running the affairs of the company (George 8). In addition, ethical human behavior presents the dynamic relations, which the company could apply to realize its vision and mission based on the outlined objectives. Therefore, ethical human behavior comprises the fundamental aspects that the people in the group should adopt in delivering better management services to the potential customers and other stakeholders (George 17). Those aspects are core when making ethical decisions about the code of behavior expected from leaders. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrated ethical leadership when he was agitating for the rights of all Americans regardless of race. Despite staying in jail in Birmingham, he did not relent on his fight and continued once he was out of prison.
The value of a comprehensive code of conduct to guide group activities is vested in the spirit of the leaders to exercise the group culture (Northouse 27). As a leader at ECG, one of the primary responsibilities is to help shape culture of ethics in the group. This is achieved if a leader behaves in a responsible way to serve as a role model in the group. Since personal values can be hurtful and destructive in a group, carrying out self-evaluation to each worker employed at different level could assist the group and its people to increase respect to personal and group values thus being able to boost the volume and quality of production (Northouse 56).
In such a situation, issues of negative values such as discrimination that might be witnessed in most groups would not arise. The reason justifying this argument is that an effective process evaluating the adherence to the outlined values ensures that each person understands the limits and the nature of relationship among the workers. This means that self-assessment/evaluation helps in harmonizing the relationship between different categories of workers thus making it a better recipe for reducing prejudice so that there could be information flow from the higher level down to the management system (George 44). Respect to the individual and group values also increases the relationship that exists between different leadership levels and thus defines the relationship between the senior managers and their juniors.
Morality is a specific aspect of the recommended code of conduct portrayed by an individual or a group. It includes honest behavior, transparency in doing transactions, integrity in performing duties, non-discrimination practices when allocating resources. In realizing these aspects, group leadership should implement the following practices (Martin Luther King 1). First, it should reduce prejudice through formulating and embracing a company’s culture of tolerance and ethical behavior among different workers who could limit the extent to which prejudice is exercised. Restructuring the group to be in line with the community will reduce the way in which individual workers perpetuate unnecessary prejudice in the company. According to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on issues of morality he stated that, “So we had no alternative except that of preparing for direct action” (Martin Luther King 1). Although this statement was moral, it could have led to violent confrontation between the authority and civilians.
Second, since a group is made of people from different diversities, defining the dangers associated with discriminating people based on their gender, social status, race, tribe, and position of authority can also help the group reduce the extent to which an individual employee or manager would perpetuate prejudice while performing his/her duties (Northouse 81). Third, a person holding any position in a company or a worker should maintain ethics during the articulation of his or her duties to reduce prejudice in workplace. Ethical behavior and practice in the workplace will ensure that a person carries out his or her duties diligently and morally (Martin Luther King 1). Apparently, a moral person cannot perpetuate prejudice against his/her fellow workers despite being at a higher rank that the other person.
Morality was the best and most effective way of eliminating racism and segregation through the change of attitude. Commonly, without change in the ways of thought and perception, better anti-racial policies that are formulated might not yield fruit. People will hold to the traditional system of stereotyping groups according to their racial background (Martin Luther King 1). In addition, the public might still perceive that certain groups of people in the US do not fit to interact with others and should be segregated. Therefore, the government of the US should inculcate the spirit of positivity to people from the other races.
The desired change of attitude might be accomplished using the social networking media such as the Internet, through church sermons, and other social gatherings to educate the public on the importance of being positive to other races. Indeed, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a positive attitude when he said that “the urge for freedom will eventually come” (Martin Luther King 1).
Frequently, curriculum development in the United States’ education should be inclined towards providing the basic knowledge that ethic affiliation is not a hindrance to the development of an individual (Martin Luther King 1). Students in higher learning institutions have to be aware that race is merely a connotation of one’s origin and does not make him/her either superior or inferior. It is the knowledge acquired that enhances the individual’s ability and superiority in performance. Indeed, better education could eradicate institutional racism and segregation (Martin Luther King 1). Also, the social education that one acquires should enable him/her to interact freely with the other ethnic groups in order to create harmony.
A well-known difference among people is the source and level of morality. Dr. Martin Luther King argued that many European countries tend to institutionalise morality, for instance economic or governing institutions (Martin Luther King 1). On the other hand, the US fosters the individual aspect of morality. Furthermore, in European countries, especially in Germany or Sweden, non-religious forms have been generally accepted. Thus, Europe focuses especially on justification of norms when handling ethical dilemmas in business. In addition, the US is mainly interested in the use of moral norms when coping with ethical difficulties in business (Crane and Matten 89).
Despite ethics and law, Crane and Matten (2007, pp. 7-8) identified that the terms for ethics and morality are often used interchangeably. Morality exists in a society, encompasses norms, values and beliefs, and the decision or belief of right or wrong depends on the community or culture. In contrast, ethics is about the study of morality and the usage of individual and societal principles to decide if a situation is right or wrong (Martin Luther King 1). Ethical theory tries to explain the rules and principles of individuals and communities. Therefore, ethical theory can be used to predict solutions to an ethical problem.