Managerial Ethics Essay, Research Paper
The word ethics is derived from the Greek work ethos, which refers to
the character and sentiment of the community, and standards of behavior.
Ethical means conforming to the standards of a given profession or group. Any
group can set its own ethical standards and then live by them or not. Ethical
standards, whether they are established by an individual, a corporation, a
profession, or a nation, help to guide a person s decisions and actions. The
commonly accepted definition of ethics is rules or standards that govern
behavior. Managerial decision making is the type of behavior that managers
are paid to do. They must make choices among alternatives and these may
vary in terms of their perceived ethicality.
The argument might be that ethics and morality ought to be kept as an
exclusive part of religious and educational organizations. When morality
intrudes on the business organization, it has a potential of diverting from the
organization s main objective, to make money, and as a result lead to deprive
stockholders returns. But there is an increased realization that managers
needs to be more responsible, not just to their stockholders but also to their
other stakeholders – consumers, employees, suppliers, the government, and
local communities. There is a need for ethics to be a part of management. We
see business leaders taking bribes, being dishonest, biased toward age,
gender, race, and ethnicity, and committing sexual harassment. There is a
lack of moral integrity among business leaders and professionals.
Many unethical acts also overlap with the law. One of those unethical
act by American executives is bribery. Bribery is used to turn power to the
advantage of the person offering. Before the passage of the Foreign Corrupt
Practices Act of 1977, it was estimated that approximately 400 American
companies paid millions of dollars in bribes for business favors. This act
makes it illegal for companies to exchanging money or material goods for
something in return. It is also affects ordinary citizens, because it raises the
cost of goods sold. Despite the regulations against bribery, many parts of the
business world consider it to be a normal practice. Exxon the well known oil
corporation engaged in a bribe when the corporation paid $59 million to Italian
politicians to further achieve business goals in Italy.
Honesty, is anyone trully honest any more? Honesty is being truthful,
regardless, but to some it can vary with the individual and the situation. It can
have a great impact on business, customers, and staff. It is an important part
of the product and service. Honesty can set good leaders apart from others.
President Clinton can be used as an example. He was dishonest with America
when telling us about the Lewinsky fiasco; lying under oath. What does this do
to his character? How is he now perceived by others. His dishonesty could
lead people to believe he as not been honest with other statements. A survey
by U.S. News and World Report on honesty, reported that eithty eight percent
of secretaries have told lies on behalf of their supervisors. In another survey of
2000, nearly one quarter watched bosses fake expense reports, one fifth seen
information destroyed, and one third seen doctored time sheets. These people
said they would not reveal their supervisor, to a higher authority, after all they
have a part in determining their success in the company. No, not everyone is
honest, but in the long run, honesty is the best policy. Dishonesty can come
back to haunt you. Managers with honest reputations can reap the benefits
with staff, and customers. Whether a president or a supervisor, honesty is
best, and you can face yourself each morning knowing you did what was right.
A nationwide survey of business ethics was conducted in 1997. It
included 218 public administrators. Seventy percent of them believed that their
organization was highly ethical, and sixty one percent said that ethics was a
part of their day-to-day decision making. Public administration has more ethics
resources than any other industry; fifty two percent of them had ethics training.
Yet they had the highest incidents of ethical problems. Fifty two percent knew
of ethical violations. Fewer than thirty one said they feel comfortable reporting
misconduct. One third said the organization may sometime breach the laws.
Some of the most common incidents were sexual harassment, lying on reports
and lying to supervisors, and discrimination.
In the United States, there are laws protecting against discrimination.
The U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects citizens from employment
discrimination regarding gender, age, race, nationality, and religion, and
disabilities. Despite this, women are segregated in the workplace from top
management positions. This invisible barrier is called the Glass Ceiling and
is created by organization prejudices. Women are better educated and hold
more jobs then ever before, but fail to reach leading positions in major
corporations. Women represent more than 40% of the workforce, but hold less
than 5% of the top jobs in corporations. And when they rise to the top, it is
nearly certain that they will earn less than a man. When women have achieved
high managerial positions, they are usually restricted to a less vital part of the
company, like administration and human resource. With the increase of
qualification and work performance by women, it may have been expected that
more women move up more quickly. One reason may be gender stereotypes.
That females can not generate as much competence in the managing role as
men and that women should not be exercising power over men. Some feel
women can not handle family responsibility and the long, hard hours of work in
high management. Well, men have families too, and with many child care
facilities, it makes it possible for men and women to handle building a career
and raising a family. Managers already at the top are likely to have gender
based stereotypes, especially older managers who went to business school
when there were few female students. Perhaps at the times change, so will the
percentage of women in top positions.
Sexual harassment which is directed by a staff member by another, has
become increasing in the news. This behavior is not only unethical but illegal.
There are two types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile
environment. Quid pro quo is when there is a request for sexual behaviors,
with a promise of rewards or threat of punishment if they adhere to them or
they do not. Hostile environment refers to the creation of an unpleasant and
unwelcome atmosphere related to sex and interferes with job performance.
Most harassment is directed at women by men; almost 90%. About 10%
involve the harassment of men. The harassers of women tend to be older
married men, and those of men are younger single women. The number of
sexual harassment cases has gone up; as more women were entering the
workplace, so were the number of cases. Many do not confront their
harassers, for fear of the reprocotions. In many cases its her word against his.
President Clinton can also be used as an example in this case a well. Paula
Jones had accused Mr. Clinton of sexual harassment when he was governor of
Arkansas. He was the leader of a state, in a powerful position, what could
Miss Jones do? She finally spoke up years later to press charges, but it was
her word against the presidents.
The management profession is a people business. How they relate to
people is very important. An effective manager must have the ability to
understand people s needs and to see their point of view. Management must
uphold moral values, keep a good attitude, keep learning, keep changing, keep
refining and defining, and keep communicating. Many managers take what
ever course of action will best achieve their goals, regardless of the effects on
organizational members, on the future of the company, or the society where
they live. Also in managerial behavior, there seems to be a strong desire for
power, wealth and the need to display material well being. This can be
considered a factor of the ethical problems.
1. Stephen J. Carrol, and Martin J. Gannon, Ethical Dimension of
Management, Sage Publications, 1997.
2. Is There Anyone Who Believes in Honesty? , Denver Business Journal,
volume 50, October 16, 1997, page 37.
3. Integrity and Ethics in Public Administration , Public Management, volume
80, October 1998, page 3.
4. Women in Management: It s Still Lonely at the Top , Women s International
Network, volume 24, September 1998, page 78.
5. Constructing an Ethic for Business Practice , Business & Society,
September 1998, page 27.