HR Code of Ethics

HR Code of Ethics provide guidelines to ensure that all HR actions and decisions follow principles of right thinking and behavior accepted generally as being morally right.

How is "ethics" defined?

Sir Adrian Cadbury in his treatise "Ethical Managers Make Their Own Rules" stated:

    "The character of a company is a matter of importance to those in it, to those who do business with it, and to those who are considering joining it...The ethical standards of a company are judged by its actions, not by pious statements of intent put out in its name.

    What matters most, however, is where we stand as individual managers and how we behave when faced with decisions. I believe it is helpful to go through two stages. The first is to determine, as precisely as we can, what our personal rules of conduct are. This does not mean drawing up a list of virtuous notions, which will probably end up as a watered-down version of the Scriptures without their literary merit. It does not mean looking back at decisions we have made and working out from there what our rules actually are. The aim is to avoid conforming ourselves and everyone else by deciding one set of principles and acting on another. Our ethics are expressed in our actions, which is why they are usually clearer to others than to ourselves.

    Once we know where we stand personally we can move to the second step, which is to think through who else will be affected by the decisions and how we should weight their interest in it. Some interest will be represented by well-organized groups; others will have no one to put their case."

(Harvard Business Review, Sept-Oct 1987, page 70)

Check out how your Human Resources Ethical Code of ethics measure against ethical standards such as that stated by Sir Cadbury.

The two stages stated:

1. Personal rules of conduct, for example, rules of conduct governing decision-making and action taken in the organization.

2. People affected by the decisions and their interest which will include every stakeholder.

Effects of Human Resources Ethics in HR Policy Manual
Code of Ethics must determine the contents of HR policy manual whereby these reflect the good and attractive characteristics of the organization.

The main function of an HR policy is to structure the operations of the HR function, HR policy, programs and decision making capabilities. This guides your organization in the implementation of a consistent way in the treatment of your employees.

What is the code supposed to control?
Ethical behavior requires higher standards than those established and imposed by law.

Unethical behaviors include:

  • fraudulent conducts
  • bribery
  • graft
  • secret commissions
  • allowing an act that is not according to accepted norms or standards of working

International managers constantly face instances of bribery and corruption. The types and acceptance vary from country to country. For example, the difference between a business gift and bribery has become blurred.

One question that arises is whether managers must follow their home country's standards or those of the host country.

Human Resources Ethical Code under Different Cultures
Organizations operating under different cultural environments require people who are good at managing diverse workforce. Take necessary measures such as:

  1. Developing a clear set of core values to base your global policies and decision making. Your organization needs to promote ethical behavior among employees.
  2. Provision of training to employees to help them make decisions within those values.
  3. Ensuring that there is a balance between policy and flexibility.

What if there is failure to adhere to HR Code of Ethics?

Unethical conduct or behavior must result in prosecution. If your organization wants to reap the fruits of success in international business then it must comply with all relevant laws. This includes ethical laws.

Ethical values such as integrity and honesty should transcend cultures.

In the United States, for example, unethical behavior is governed by the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Countries that have no such laws can draw guidance from this law.
Click HERE for a simple explanation of the US Foreign Corrupt Act.

It is to your organization's financial well-being if employees follow ethical code as provided for under the country's laws and or host country and or international laws that govern ethical behaviors and your own organization's code of ethics.

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