Management commitment is absent The code is not sufficiently communicated and

Management commitment is absent the code is not

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Management commitment is absent. The code is not sufficiently communicated and embedded in the organization. The code is inconsistent with embedded corporate culture, for example pressure on managers to meet targets. The point about embedding is especially pertinent. As Collier and Estaban (2007: 30) concluded: It is not enough to have mission statements and codes of ethics. It is necessary for ethics to be embedded in the cultural fabric of the business as well as in the hearts and minds of its members. This is where HR professionals come in, as explained later in this chapter. But to play a part in embedding ethics and resolving ethical dilemmas it is necessary to understand the nature of ethics and the ethics dimension as described below. The meaning and nature of ethics Ethics, as a system, is concerned with making judgements and decisions about what is the right course of action to take. It is defined by the Com- pact Oxford Dictionary (1971: 900) as being ‘related to morals, treating of moral questions’, and ‘ethical’ is defined as ‘relating to morality’. Morals define what is right rather than wrong. Morality is behaving in a moral or ethical way: possessing moral qualities. Petrick and Quinn (1997: 42) wrote that ethics is ‘the study of individual and collective moral awareness, judgement, character and conduct’. Hamlin et al (2001: 98) noted that ethics is concerned with rules or principles that help us to distinguish right and wrong. Ethics and morality are sometimes treated as being synonymous al- though Beauchamp and Bowie (1983: 1–2) suggested that they are different: ‘Whereas morality is a social institution with a history and code of learnable rules, ethical theory refers to the philosophical study of the nature of ethical
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The professional and ethical approach to HRM and L&D 125 principles, decisions and problems.’ Clearly, ethics is concerned with matters of right and wrong and therefore involves moral judgements. Even if they are not the same, the two are closely linked. Clegg et al (2007: 111) wrote: ‘We understand ethics as the social organizing of morality.’ The nature of ethical decisions and judgements As defined by Jones (1991: 367), an ethical decision is one that is morally acceptable to the larger community. He also noted that: ‘A moral issue is present where a person’s actions, when freely performed, may harm or ben- efit others. In other words, the action or decision must have consequences for others and must involve choice, or volition, on the part of the actor or decision maker’ (ibid: 367). Winstanley and Woodall (2000a: 8–9) pointed out that: Ethics is not about taking statements of morality at face value; it is a critical and challenging tool. There are no universally agreed ethical frameworks… Different situations require ethical insight and flexibility to enable us to encapsulate the grounds upon which competing claims can be made. Decisions are judgements usually involving choices between alternatives, but rarely is the
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