corporate ethics

Corporate Ethics Challenges: A Guide for Employers

Each organization embraces a culture built on the principles and ideologies of its founders and hence can be construed as a mirror to the values upheld by them. These values are usually codified for the benefit of all joining the organization and for redressal purposes too. Nonetheless, it is important to understand that there are quite a few unwritten values that are practiced as part of basic human interactions. Such values in turn are a mirror to the personal value system of each individual. And each individual is expected to align their personal values with that of their organization’s which is when certain discrepancies creep in and the misalignment poses a challenge in the form of miscreants who try to bend the corporate ethics and policies to suit their personal goals. Here are a few of the most common ethical issues faced by organizations worldwide and precautionary measures to avoid them.


Harassment tops the list because it is the most common form of unethical behavior prevalent indiscriminately. Right from improper behavior to poking fun at colleagues with some form of disability and everything in between constitutes harassment. Everyone wants to be loved and acknowledged and when someone treats you inappropriately on a personal level, it can have serious emotional and mental repercussions subsequently affecting the person’s productivity and career. Hence, harassment is a serious issue and needs to be tackled with a firm hand.

In view of the gravity of the consequences, I highly recommend, employers should clearly codify their principles and policies pertaining to the abuse of the same. The induction program should include a session dedicated to explaining not just the company culture and ethics but also the disciplinary action warranted in the event of any violations.


Next on the list is discrimination based on certain characteristics of an employee which includes – religion, sex, age, disability, color, pay, and pregnancy. Conditions of disability, age, and pregnancy call for a certain degree of consideration within reason but cannot be held against the employee as a reason for negative behavior.

Non-performance or unsatisfactory performance should be addressed through the right channel as per the guidelines. But connecting the performance metrics and reports with any of the above factors is completely derogatory and unacceptable. As already mentioned companies should establish strict anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and educate each employee about the same.

Misappropriation of Accounts

Unethical accounting is a punishable act legally as well as ethically. Misappropriating the figures to deceive shareholders and the government is a crime and spells doom to the company. So, employers have to ensure that a strong principled finance team is designated for their respective roles. Also, ascertain you keep an eye out for any form of unethical activity and insist on more frequent reporting activities. This way you can be in control of your finances and its processing. As measly as it may sound, know that such precautions can go a long way in maintaining order and preventing malfunctions.

Misuse of Company Resources

Many companies face the dilemma of employee theft and unconscionable use of company resources like internet, travel expenses, supplies, and stationaries that sometimes go unaccounted but result in deteriorating ethical standards and organizational culture with unaccounted losses and pilferage.

Employers need to keep track of their inventory system and invest in security systems to upgrade their level of supervision and maintain transparency at all costs.

Unethical Activities on Social Media

This is a trending topic of discussion as it is unclear on the extent to which an employer can control its employee’s activities outside the confines and working hours of the office. Freedom of speech and expression is one of the basic rights of an individual and social media being an open platform out of the jurisdiction of an employer, translates into an employer’s predicament on discovering an employee’s remark about its company in a negative light.

So, I believe all companies should devise policies to uphold its integrity and reputation. If an employee’s social media activity impacts the company negatively in terms of projects and productivity, as an employer you have the authority to let go of that employee at the least. And as a precautionary measure, like is already practiced, a non-disclosure document should be signed by all employees immediately after joining and they should be briefed on ethical behavior especially towards your organization outside your work life too. Also, a transparent redressal system in place eliminates the possibility of employees venting out their anger and frustrations in public.

Compliance Violation

Compliance violations occur when organizations deviate from the designed path for their benefits. Violations of policies and health and safety compliance measures within an organization are also termed as an offense. Such infringements result in health and safety hazards and even loss of lives. When such violations are committed within as well as on an organizational level, many lives and livelihoods are exposed to various dangers. For example, low-grade safety equipment is risky for employees while not adhering to the various Acts imposed by the government with regard to the level of air pollutants and smoke permissible by a plant that can pose a serious threat to the nearby inhabitants and the employees too.

In the long-run, unethical practices are purely unsustainable practices that will surely bring down your growth curve. And for individuals who resort to such activities, please raise your bar and work smartly not unethically to achieve your personal goals!

As I always say, employers should lead by example!