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Introduction to Applied Professional Ethics

Introduction to Applied Professional Ethics

admin / January 3, 2019

Subtopic 1: The Role of Ethics in the Workplace

Description of Concrete Experience: I have worked for AT&T for about 20 years now and during my first 9 years I held the non-management positions including Account Representative, and PAF Associate. I must admit that implementing the ethical programs in the organization was not an easy task and it is a delicate matter of discussion as it involved both matters of personal ethical conduct and that of others who interact with me.

When I was a junior worker, I did not face many changes requiring me to exercise decisions making skills concerning ethical issues but since I joined the management team 11 years ago, I have faced several challenges and dilemma that required cautious and informed ethical reasoning in order to make decisions.

Besides, since the workplaces has been a very dynamic place especially with increasing diversity and issues of equity, there have been development of new policies and practices that have increased the importance of ethical responsibility.

In order to be able to competently perform and part of the management team I decided to take a course in ethical leadership to help me to learn more about ethical issues and their impact at workplaces. This will improve my performance of being vigilant, open communication and offering expert support for ethical programs.

Reflection: tracing back to my early days on the job, I can tell that, there has been great transformation at AT&T in terms of ethical responsibility. Ethics have become very important at this workplace as they have been shaping the organization culture of this company.

An employee in the management team, I have often used out company ethical standard to decide on what to do and what practices to allow. This has built a good reputation for the entire management team.

Previously, some unscrupulous acts were condoned and such personalities caused a great deal of trouble into the company operations including the process of hiring. Since, the organization has had a culture of proactive model of addressing problems; I sought to ensure that the vice of unethical acts does not permeate through the whole company to cause negative effects like poor client service, unethical accounting issues or inadequate quality.

As such I studied ethical leadership in order to understand the ethical theories bearing in mind that unethical conduct can affect even managers like me.

Generalization/Principles/Theories: there is increased awareness of human rights in the AT&T workplace and people are expected to adhere to the code of conduct in their normal daily tasks, however, this is not always the case. There are several factors that I have observed to complicate the matter.

One might say that the company is experiencing ethical crisis but, there are a much more individual problems yet to be addressed. Faced with an ethical dilemma, a person can deduce what is the correct thing to do by intuitive common sense but still take another course of action.

This is what I refer to as lack of moral courage which is basically the unwillingness to do the correct thing yet the consequences may be too much to bear. This is because the damage caused by ethical violations is more that monetary value and may include diminution of company reputation.

I have come to learn that the major challenge to ethical responsibility entailed the personal ability to reason or make decision whenever I am faced with an ethical dilemma.

This would determine whether or not I can make the decisions regarding ethical issues, therefore to ensure that I am responsible, ethical leadership course was the right thing for me since decision making is a learned skill that I need and must have to deal with ethical issues.

Testing and Application: I have come to appreciate that ethics at workplace play a crucial role just as the spinal cord is to the body. Even AT&T has now decided to consider it as a management discipline especially that every company is required to bear its social responsibility.

In over the 11 years that I have been in the management team, I have witnessed great awareness in the company concerning ethical conduct and this has raised the expectations the employees to act according to the dictates of the company’s ethics code and programs.

As part of the management team members I have realized that my role in this is to support the ethical conduct of the workers and the organization. This therefore entails two major responsibilities. The first is to lead the employees by example and promoting ethical values that the company will be proud of.

Second, as part of the management, I have to be the enforcer of the ethical standards and a whistle-blower in the event that unethical behavior is observed. Essentially, allowing it to take place or turning a blind eye to such actions would greatly demean the principles that the company was founded.

Subtopic 2: The Interplay of Personal Values and Ethical Standards

Description of Concrete Experience: with my experience at AT&T as the Access Network Engineer, I learnt that the relationship between the company’s ethical standards and the personal values was a question of morality where behavior is guided by certain standards and expectations. With the workplaces being a source of livelihood for so many and also helps to satisfy the feeling of self actualization, personal character is very important. Workplaces offer a reason and a way of behavior and standard of life and therefore this virtue sustains morality and has to be adhered to even at workplace.

I appreciate that though the organization throughout the management team sets the standards to be followed by the rest of the organization, the choice to follow these ethics is entirely a person choice. A person cannot be compelled to make an otherwise choice but this can only be expected and explained. Facing disciplinary measures works to reduce the choice of unethical character.

In essence, I welcome the fact that my workplaces is composed of a cluster of individuals and therefore a collection of various personalities with a range of attitudes and characters which in most cases can dilute the set standard ethics.

The course of action that a person takes to violate or obey the ethical standards differs depending on personality and such decisions have accountability and responsibility. This responsibility is individual and each person assumes the responsibility of breaching the organizational expectation. I support the fact that the company’s rules require that employees take individual responsibilities for their action instead of collective accountability.

Reflection: I have realized with my experience at AT&T that the personal values of every employee played a great role in the determination of the workplace ethics. Simple virtues like loyalty, honesty and accountability n help to shape the workplace environment.

These characteristics help to build the business’s literacy hence helping in the addressing of the real problems in more efficient ways. Even though every individual’s personal ethics may be very different from each other, all these personal value matter when making the companies ethical standards. Because of these differences, each employee has to be included in one ethical program with one goal.

The determination of right and wrong or good and bad are issues that my thought alone cannot decide but the power of perception of the company’s employee. All these perceptions are based on evolution which is in turn rooted in ethical theories. I believe that ethics standards should be followed despite the reason behind is because ethics constitute moral accountabilities.

Generalization/Principles/Theories: from experience, I realized that ethics entail the ability to make rational and morally correct choices where I am able to feel good about myself and the benefits that come from it. These choices have to be the right choices.

Basically, the right choice which constitute a bigger part of the organizational ethics are derived from the basic golden rules like do not steal, do not bear false witness or the major one that says that you to other what you would expect them to do to you. I know that people always struggle to keep these rules as ethics is considered as the part that is related to private life. However, sometimes there is a problem of being required to do what is good for the business stakeholders at the expense of personal values.

I believe that personal ethics have a lot to do with personal leadership values. And as important as the ethical standards are, I need to understand as much about ethical leadership as I can so as to align personal values and the ethical standards. This can make it easy for the rest of the employees to adhere to the standards.

Testing and Application: I have always supported the promotion of individuals based on their capability of contributing to the company goals to that in can perform above and beyond the expectations.

This is because certain individual have a greater sense of personal values and my perception has been that through their performance, the individuals demonstrate ability to be effective in the next level; the management. Nonetheless, the transformation of the idea of doing the job oneself into leading a team to do the work requires personal expertise in workplace ethics.

Subtopic 3: The Interplay of Professional Responsibilities and Ethical Standards

Description of Concrete Experience: as a manager, it is very important that one adhered to the ethical standards and the professional responsibilities that come with holding a particular position or attain certain level of expertise. This will prevent an individual from not promising or implying agreement to certain practices that are contrary to the professional ethics or the ethical expectations of the organization.

I appreciate that the code of professional conduct is very essential for any profession as it guide the employees in fulfilling their professional responsibilities. This therefore brings about the idea of accountability and responsibility for the expert employees.

In any profession, it’s the responsibilities of the professional to maintain ethical standards which are normally in line with the ethical standards. Since when I was a junior employee, I observed that the professionals in management positions developed maintained and supported very high standards of professional competence that was expected to be followed by the rest.

I realized the major goal was to protect the public from any substandard services or products that did not meet the international best standards. From that, I accepted that as one of the managers, I will be responsible and accountable for the professional actions that failed to meet the least ethical standards.

Reflection: with professional qualifications comes a greater responsibility of what happens at work. As such I am able to accept my limitation in profession qualification by limiting my practice to areas where I am competent enough as per my education, training, confidence of supervisor and professional requirements. I understand that professional ethics require that the responsibilities be carried out based on established scientific or professional skills and knowledge of that particular job.

Professional ethics also require that I should maintain recent competency my area of expertise by continued professional development and consultation as well as other means of conforming to the current professional standard. This concerns, lead me into studying ethical leadership to be updated on the current ethical environment.

Professional responsibilities are integrated in the ethics standards so that they have the same goals. This is because in order to execute professional responsibilities, the professional have to use professionally accepted process and that the job being carried out should be acceptable by the normal societal moral standards

Generalization/Principles/Theories: professional code is almost in every profession to guide professional workers how they conduct their responsibilities on daily basis. I have over the past 11 years given it a critical though as to why there is need to have the code when all the professionals receives the same kind of training for the profession.

I came to understand that, practicing any particular profession was not that easy. Basically, no profession usually wants to begin being unethical purposively but rather it is an issue of juggling some options at once and in an attempt to honestly trying to meet some of the job obligation, one can sincerely fail to know the best way forward.

I can now confirm that one of the major challenges that professional face is the impasse of conflicting loyalties. Professional code offers the systematic model of dealing with such conflicts that a person may face when acting in a professional capacity since he/she still wears other hats.

The professional responsibility is designed on the precepts of the instinctive concept of moral wrong and right conduct which is the basis of the ethical standards but in works beyond that. Professional are expected to offer services beyond the normal routine tasks and demonstrate greater ethical values based on their training and requirement if their disciplines.

Testing and Application: professional responsibility is the expectations of the profession workers are indicated by shared values where the prescription of the right course of action is based. As a result, the codes share similar principles with the moral theory meaning that professional code symbolizes good moral precepts with internal constancy. Basically, what is right for me can be right for any other person all the time or most of the times.

Professional code and moral standards all seek to answer the question ‘how am I expected to behave?’, but ethical standards leaves room for expectations while professional standards have a guide of what has to be done. Basically, in an attempt to clarify what constitutes right and wrong in ht professional practice, codes of conduct are in most cases a combination of the Utilitarian and the Deontological theories of ethical behavior.

I practically support the use of professional responsibility that is in line with ethical standards because they combine deontology by prescribing what to do like the principles to follow. At the same time, the code has utilitarian impression by suggesting that everyone stand to benefit when we all observed the same moral standards.

Subtopic 4: A Model for Ethical Decision-Making

Description of Concrete Experience: during my first days in the management team after I had been promoted to the management position, I faced some situations that require my sound judgment and rational decision making skills.

Being in a position to correctly determine the next course of action was a great challenge for me especially on issues that seemed to have some dilemma. In order to be able to face my challenges, I did not want to entirely on others people’s opinions and advice so I took the ethical leadership course.

In this course, I have come to understand the standard guide for ethical decision making. The guide offered me a structure of rational decision making in an internationally accepted fashion. The process of decision making entails seven steps.

Reflection: there are basically five moral principles that are considered to be the keystone of the ethical standards and decision making. The guidelines do not often address all the circumstances that I was forced to tackle. However, I found out that constant review of the ethical principles which basically form the basis of the professional code assists in clarification of the matters that touch on particular situations.

These five principles include beneficence, justice, fidelity, nonmaleficence and autonomy and they are utter certainties in and of themselves. Exploration of any ethical dilemma with consideration of these principles allows better comprehension of the conflicting issues. When assessing an ethical dilemma, as a person in the management position and required to make a decision, I mostly explored the situation and related it on the above concepts.

Sometimes, this alone enabled me to clarify the matters enough that resolving the dilemma was easy and therefore faster decision making. However, some cases have always been very intricate hence requiring strict work through of the seven steps of ethical decision process and assessment of the possible moral conflicts.

Generalization/Principles/Theories: with regard to the ethical issues, there is a stepwise model that has been devised to guide practitioners in solving ethical dilemmas. The model draws ideas from a number of writers hence creating a practical, stepwise approach for decision making. For me, using a sequential process to reach decision made it easy to collect facts and reason on a structured concept hence allowing me to reach informed and rational decision. The steps include;

Problem identification
Supplication of the relevant code of ethics to the matter or situation
Determination of the type and nature of the problem
Generating a number of possible courses of action as alternatives
Weighing the alternatives and choosing one course of action
Evaluating the chosen course of action for feasibility
Implementing the selected course of action in the organization

Progressive thinking has demonstrated that there is never one solution to complex ethical dilemmas therefore different professional can utilize different means of reaching a decision. However, the use of this model assured me that I was going to give a professional explanation for my decisions.

Testing and Application: according to the type of activities and decisions that I undertook at the job, I discovered that ethical behavior at times was arbitrary. I could be behaving ethically responsible when I upheld personal and professional honesty coupled with the best interests of the company customers at heart, without malice or mischievous personal gains.

All these compounded by the fact that I could offer justification of my actions as being the best judgment of what ought to have been done as required by my professional expertise and position at AT&T.

Subtopic 5: Practical Implications of Ethical Decisions

Description of Concrete Experience: one crucial question that has lingered my mind is that why shouldn’t I just follow my conscience, act good and do a good job without making ethic a big deal. I have learnt that leading an ethical life while in business in a very tough job and at times it gets very complex.

There are a number of companies that have failed to hope for the best and focused on the maximization of profits. I agree that only a well-argued and all-inclusive set of ethical code or values that are designed to address a number of emerging ethical dilemmas, meticulously monitored by management can help to steer clear of a threatening disaster.

Currently, the ethical dilemmas are not about basic moral issues like stealing or lying to the boss, but a matter of moral standards based on personal values and the elemental ground rules of how people should behave at workplace. Each decision comes with a consequence which is either a reward or punishment depending of the underlying principles governing the profession.

Reflection: there have been some moments when I have had to determine the correct ethical thing to do depending on the circumstance at hand. It is pertinent to take the ethical guidelines seriously, because, these current guidelines could develop into laws in future.

Ethics course has been very beneficial in helping me to fins my way through some ethical dilemmas where there is no clear legal explanation. There has never been a very opportune moment to emphasize law in business like in today’s society.

In the past, some companies have used unethical dealings to make profits for their companies and have faced the law because of their fraudulent activities. Despite the perception that ethics at AT&T is hortatory instead of mandatory, contravening ethical standards is a serious offense that can attract even life imprisonment depending on the magnitude.

To enhance ethical decisions, there is the legal sanction or consequences and voluntary compliance option. Failing making ethical decisions that infringe the required standards attract punishment from tougher laws and other negative consequences that can affect business like defaming its reputation. However, compliance can draw benefits like government support, good reputation and image.

Generalization/Principles/Theories: to some extent, I can define the driving force for the continued adherence to the ethical standards in workplaces has been the fear of the law. Basically is one acts in breach of the law, he or she can end up in jail.

Ethical decisions implication especially adherence or compliance is a show of respect, integrity and accountability on the part of an individual and the organization at large. However, I view contravention of ethics as irresponsible behavior full of malice, greed and guile.

However, it’s totally difficult to keep the vice out of an organization because these habits are usually suppressed but surfaces when there is an opportunity to be exploited. There many intrinsic benefits that are linked to ethics. When a company implements rational ethical decisions, then it will benefit by building good behavior among workers, creating a positive image, strengthening and reinforcing its teamwork, developing credible work guideline and promoting diversity awareness and appreciation.

Testing and Application: I believe the best way of attracting the best talent and experienced workers is to have a clear assertion of the moral and professional standards we follow and the role that these standards play when it comes to making decisions.

I think we should have a clearly stated moral concept detailing good and bad or wrong and right and how they interact with certain ethical contexts especially responsibilities and obligation. It should highlight how one is expected to behave when faced with ethical dilemma.

To that end, I am certain that it will be meaningful to draft ethical guidelines or a statement for AT&T probably with the updated mission statement to explain the basis on which the company operates. I am also convinced that it would be beneficial to ensure that all workers understand the type consequences one might face or enjoy following a particular decision on professional ethics.

Subtopic 6: Conflicts of Values/Ethical Dilemmas

Description of Concrete Experience: in many organizations despite how hard the managers try to handle them, ethical issues always seem to crop up. Sometimes it may seem that the managers have solved problem when it oftentimes reappears. I think that an ethical dilemma is always experienced when a person is faced with a situation that presents two possible right options but require different reaction.

These clashes can be simple and straightforward or sometimes they can be very complicated requiring the intervention of professional ethics regulatory bodies. In the cases where the views of an individual and the standard ethics conflict, it is usually the inability of pursuing one of the option which seem to be good.

The critical aspects of ethical dilemma include being in a position to perform only one action and not both even when one is able to perform each of them. The person charged with responsibility of making the decisions is condemned to ethical failure on one of the options despite the course of action taken. Basically its failure when we are unable to do something that we have the ability to do and ought to have done it. Nonetheless, there are cases when one ethical option overrides the other.

Reflection: I believe that conflict of values in the organization cannot be waved away like they are nonexistence, ethical leadership, therefore entails learning to restructure the problems as dilemmas. As an ethical leader, I will be required to pursue acquisition if virtue and not only the character.

The organization expects that I will be in a position to have an abiding interest to forged common goal and a set of values among competing factions without making them subservient. Because a number of alternative present ethical dilemmas and conflict of values despite the course of action a leader may chose, I envisage that there will be remorse, shame and regret among employees.

These strong emotions definitely figure outstandingly in an ethical dilemma and this is so because the leaders responsible for making decision must forfeit one value over the other. These negative feeling are usually associated with a person doing something wrong and she/he should bear responsibility and it’s this type of feeling that cause mixed perception of right and wrong.

Generalization/Principles/Theories: based from the negative feeling that some people may show when they resent the decision made about conflicting values I believe that ethical dilemma is harmful to the organization.

It is possible for a leader to wonder whether there is a problem when it is in fact very obvious to outsiders. When there is harm, it calls for accountability and in most cases it’s the leaders who are held responsible for any damage caused.

Human beings can cause serious emotional expression but they are not based on the degree of ethical responsibility. Nonetheless, the emotional response causes the leaders to be more cautious and sensitive when making decisions that seem to be at a stalemate.

Looking at conflict of values and ethical dilemmas as a standoff can allow the managers to build organization that is string and founded on shared values and good personal relations. Instead of being demoralized there can be a compromise.

Testing and Application: I have seen ethical dilemmas emerge from the personal values that conflict directly with the set standards of the organization. Organizations are able to manage their ethical environment by hiring workers who posses values that match their own.

Some companies even try to measure the values of workers during the recruitment process as such try to select employees who fit in the ethical program of the organization. Poor matching can be costly to the organization as it can directly lead to crises like low job satisfaction, job turn over and poor performance.

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