Ethical practice - Lesson 1: your reflections

Welcome to the online community learning space for the lesson: Getting started with ethical practice. Use this forum to discuss the community reflective activity in the lesson. Read the contributions of others, ‘liking’ those you find helpful and add your unique reflections to the conversation by replying to this post. Click here to return to the lesson page at any time.

Community reflective activity:
In your experience what factors create pressure that may compromise ethical behaviour? What is your best piece of advice to others about how to resist compromising your ethics?  

  • In reply to David:

    I agree that the Podcast was interesting, I particularly liked the view that 'whistleblowing' is 'reporting' - to me that has a less negative connotation. It's important that all feel able to speak up/out when necessary without concerns they will be seen as a 'snitch'.
  • I have only just viewed the 1st lesson in this new series of training and have to say how pleased I am to be getting even more benefits from my membership. Well done CIPD!

    There are many different viewpoints on ethical practice so all I will do for now is to add my own very simple reflection to the conversation.

    Every day I have left wherever I worked with a clear conscience and can always hold my head high in the thought that what I am doing is for the right ethical reasons; even if that has meant challenging others in positions of authority. It has not always been easy, but is always 'eventually' personally rewarding.

    I have a quote from Martin Luther King Jr emblazoned in my mind and try my best to live these words: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

  • In reply to Gerry Crow:

    Absolutely agree with you with regard to a clear conscience, Gerry, makes for a comfortable night's sleep and freedom to enjoy life.

    Love the Martin Luther King Jr quote, so very true. If we don't stand up for what we believe to be right and fair, it not only has an impact on us, it also has wider implications for our organisations and society as a whole. As you say, not always easy to do, but always so very rewarding (eventually!).
  • In reply to Jacqueline:

    It's funny, isn't it, Jacqueline?! Being seen as a 'snitch' is often a worry when it comes to raising an issue. The issue raised may not be comfortable hearing for the person receiving the message and, depending on the issue and people involved, it can potentially have a big impact on relationships and team dynamics.

    I find that the way 'reporting' is perceived is very much down to the organisational culture - if honesty and transparency are embedded throughout the organisation, raising issues should be welcomed. Often though, 'transparency', 'honesty' and 'integrity' are just values that are listed in the mission and value statements, not actually lived out in practice.

    What terminology is used in your organisation? In your view, does that have an impact?
  • In reply to Joanna:

    In our organisation we have regular mandatory ethics and compliance training and failure to complete can mean that individuals are ineligible for bonuses / salary revisions - so we take it very seriously. Our core values include Integrity, and Respect for the Individual and we have an online tool that you can use to get guidance for difficult situations. Along with the usual routes of speaking to Line Manager's, HR etc you can also report a concern using this tool, and in many cases you can remain anonymous. We are all encouraged to 'speak up' and I'm confident that our organisation creates a culture where we all live the values in our actions and behaviours rather than just paying lip service.
  • Firstly, my first venture into the new CIPD material and very pleased with the content and approach. Thank you.
    Secondly, to answer the reflective questions: 1) Two factors jump out for me i. the profit motive, even in the public sector people are often rewarded by a focus on short term financial gain in their objectives; and ii. lack of pride in a job - if you are doing something mundane or uninteresting (or you perceive it that way) then you are more likely to cut corners.
    2) Put yourself in the other person's shoes and explain the potential impact on them and not on you.
  • Hi all,

    I think for me personally the factor that creates pressure in compromising ethical behaviour is senior leadership.

    When they do not present themselves as role models, they simply let the entire organisation down. Therefore it's so important to work in organisation that has values based leadership, and one that will honour the advice of HR. I find myself on a daily basis having to fight fires on ethical decision-making.
  • It is really good to see the CIPD offering this training material to members. I particularly enjoyed the Ethical Practice short course.

    Consistently the most common factor that I have experienced when it comes to unethical behaviour such as disciplining or wishing to dismiss an employee without good reason, is where a line manager deflects the blame for his / her own weaknesses onto another team member. The line manager may simply wish to remove someone because they have exposed or challenged their own performance or poor behaviours.

    The more senior the manager, the more challenging it may be to dissuade them from taking the wrong course of action. Even more disconcerting is when you (HR) may be asked to take such action on their behalf or are pressured into doing so. It is really important to show your true worth and resist being pressured to take action which is unethical. Highlighting the risks and the best practice approach is always the right way forward to protect the business, the employee and your own reputation.

    I think it is important to stand by your own values and represent the CIPD as a body of professionals.

    If an organisation values HR, senior leaders or managers will respect your approach. If they don't there are serious cultural undercurrents which need to be addressed. And most importantly, if you cannot help change a culture where unethical behaviours like this exist - is the company likely to meet your values?
  • In reply to dawnwragg:

    Thanks Dawn, very insightful and I agree on the approach whereby we are within our right to question if the company itself meets our own values.
  • In reply to Jacqueline:

    It sounds as though your organisation takes a wonderful approach, Jacqueline. Everything seems to be perfectly aligned with the values of the organisation, giving individuals clear development, accountability, guidance and reporting lines - sounds like the perfect environment in which to work openly (and ethically). .

    I love the way that, along with other official reporting lines, there is a tool where individuals can report anonymously if they feel more comfortable in approaching things that way. It sounds as though the clear 'speak up' culture that has been encouraged would enable many people to feel confident in raising issues, although I'm certain that having the option to report something with anonymity safeguards everyone in the organisation, ensuring that all issues can be raised without fear of retribution. Do you find that anonymous reporting happens often?
  • In reply to dawnwragg:

    Absolutely agree with you both, Dawn and Traveen, so important that we work with organisations where the culture aligns with our own values.

    Dawn, from what you've said in your post, I've picked out a few great points of advice for anyone who may find themselves in this situation:

    - Resist being pressured.
    - Highlight risks of taking unethical action (along with explaining why you feel the action you are being asked to take is unethical).
    - Take a best practice approach (sticking to legislation and fair practices, basing decisions on facts and metrics rather than feelings).

    Is there anything else that you, or anyone else, think should be added?

  • I would initially like to thank CIPD for this content, having recently completed my HR qualification I think the behaviour based learning courses are an ideal next step!

    I have opted to start with "ethical practice" as I have had a few experiences recently that I have had to coach our senior leadership team to consider some implications of potential actions. As a younger member of the team having these conversations with directors with 30+ years of service it was a learning experience!

    Thoughts on the community reflective activity:
    In your experience what factors create pressure that may compromise ethical behaviour?
    My initial thoughts are time constraints, limited resources and pressures from higher levels. I feel that although the team wish to make ethical decisions they are trying to find a balance between this and achieving objectives. This is something we are looking to address by moving from KPI's to OKR's where the team have more freedom in how they achieve the key results.

    What is your best piece of advice to others about how to resist compromising your ethics?
    I find that it is being reflective in your own actions - considering is it consistent? Is it legal? what could be the potential consequences? Then instead of compromising your ethics to meet a team members needs you need to have a conversation and explain your rationale.
  • In case you haven't yet seen these I thought it would be useful to share the link to a three-part webinar series CIPD are delivering on ethical practice at work in March and April 2020. Click here to find out more www.cipd.co.uk/.../ethics-at-work-webinars
  • As a few have said before, it's fantastic that the CIPD have put this learning material together. I very much enjoyed it.

    I loved the steps that were suggested, ie; asking firstly if the action/decision etc lines up with the organisations values. In most companies I've found that the instinctive first question tends to be "is it legal" and yes, whilst this is an essential factor I think we have to remember that the "legal" standard is the minimum requirement and we have to remind ourselves of the fact that just because a decision is "legal" doesn't necessarily mean that it's ethical, or as ethical as it could be.

    For me, it means going above and beyond the bare minimum legal requirements.

    I think the main factors that would create pressure to compromise would be pressure from "above" to be one-sided in our decision making.

    Having recently resigned from two posts due to unethical practices by the employer I'd say the best piece of advice would be to stand your ground, once we compromise our ethics and values (professional and personal) we can find ourselves on a slippery slope. (Not that I'm recommending anyone resign from their position, but sometimes we just have to for the sake of our own conscience.)
  • Others have summed up most of the factors which compromise ethical behaviour.

    From my personal experience, I find myself lost when a company directors makes statements like these:

    This is my company, I do whatever I want.
    I don't like that you are challenging me.

    I hope that by completing this Ethical practise e-learning module, I will find a way to deal with such personalities.