The main importance of this ethics program is that it will help the owners and managers of Company X to improve the business performance, make profits, and contribute to the economic progress of the community by meeting the reasonable expectations of the stakeholders. Also, the program aims to attain particular expected outcomes such as increasing the awareness of ethic issues, enhancing decision-making and minimizing misconduct in the company. Thus, this ethics program comprises the applicable standards and procedures that include the elements of acceptable behavior of employees. Also, the program describes an ethics training program and a description of employee misconduct monitoring and reporting. Additionally, the program consists of a plan to audit it after implementation to show its progress in attaining the set objectives.
Standards and Procedures
These standards and procedures address all the employees of Company X. Therefore, all the workers are expected to follow the described elements of acceptable behavior as set in the code of ethics. The four elements of acceptable behavior for the employees include:
- Integrity and Professional Conduct: All employees must act with the utmost integrity that includes the highest standards of professional conduct, honesty, and ethics. In particular, they must maintain high levels of personal and professional conduct to meet stakeholders' expectations. Also, they must act with respect towards customers and business associates in all business transactions, and do nothing that will bring the company into disrepute.
- Confidentiality and Use of Official Information: All workers should protect the confidentiality and integrity of all business and personal information regarding the clients' affairs by only disclosing it to individuals who require it to serve the clients and by ensuring that access is controlled. Moreover, they have a duty to not disclose any non-public information that has been gathered during their official duties, such as sensitive information related to enforcement of the law or proprietary business information. This rule extends to all records, documents, and information stored either electronically or otherwise.
- Conflicts of Interests: All employees should identify any conflicts to facilitate its appropriate management or avoidance, to ensure that the customers' interest is placed ahead of the employee's interests or those of any person associated with the employee. Thus, workers should follow the set recusal procedures to avoid or remove themselves from participation in any situation or transaction that could lead to an actual or apparent conflict of interest.
- Professional Expertise: This ethics program requires all employees to strive to attain high standards of professional expertise by maintaining and improving their knowledge and skills. Also, the managers should set training programs to enhance employees' personal and career development, and avail appropriate guidance and supervision to ensure they are aware of their professional obligations when dealing with customers. Managers and employees should always meet and seek to exceed the minimum training standards through a combination of qualifications and continuous professional development. Also, employees have a duty to avail advice only in areas where they are qualified, skilled, and authorized.
Ethics Training Program
The simple act of drafting the standards and procedures of acceptable behavior within the company is not adequate to ensure everyone understands how and when to uphold them (Ruiz, Martinez, Rodrigo, & Diaz, 2015). Therefore, the aim of this training program is to provide the employees with the opportunity to explore and discuss these standards and procedures to ensure they always adhere to the rules:
- The content of the Training Program: The main content of this ethics training program is 'building a culture of integrity.' Integrity is an idea that has great importance in the business environment. Moreover, it is the first principle listed in the company's Code of Ethics and the most commonly cited virtue in corporate ethical codes. Mainly, Company X relies on the trust of its clients and it is viewed to have integrity, which is a crucial element of a good reputation. Additionally, a strong ethical culture is important to attracting, retaining and motivating the best talent in the right way.
- The frequency of Training: The ethics training will be conducted twice every quarter.
- Duration of the Training program: The program will be continuous for the next two years depending on the resource capability of the company and degree of adoption of the culture of integrity by all employees
- Mode of Delivery of Training: The training will involve both on-the-job and off-the-job training approaches to ensure business continuity. Specific on-the-job training techniques will include coaching, mentoring, job rotation, apprenticeship, job instructional technique (JIT), and an understudy. On another hand, off-the-job training methods will include vestibule training, lectures and conferences, simulation exercises, and sensitivity training.
- Trainers: Company X's ethics board will facilitate the on-the-job training, particularly, to expound on the various policies and procedures of the company. Also, the company will involve business ethics consultants to help avail experience in business ethics and a more balanced perspective that would be possible when facilitated by internal managers and executives.
Monitoring and Reporting Employee Misconduct
Misconduct is one of the grounds acknowledged by law that may give a reason for the dismissal of a worker (Ruiz et al., 2015). The ethics program has a responsibility to ensure that the employees maintain high standards of conduct and performance. Thus, recognizing that misconduct will be dealt with promptly and fairly within the context of a set of procedures is a crucial component of a positive, healthy, fulfilling and successful working environment.
Monitoring Employee Misconduct
Procedure to Monitor Employee Misconduct: This ethics program borrows from the study by Valkanas, Ipeirotis, Provost, Attenberg, Chin, Hendahewa, and Swamy (2018) on monitoring employee misconduct. A multi-faceted approach will be used to detect any inappropriate behavior among the employees and will involve the use of a computer-controlled system and a monitoring team. The system will analyze a broad array of data including actor-level information, socio-professional network analysis, and domain knowledge. In particular, the approach will analyze digital communications between workers and customers. The system considers that such communications come in various formats such as emails, chats, and instant messaging, which can be in real-time. Other communications can be conversational with normal language.
The system will gather the content and associated metadata such as timestamp, communication channel, and the thread it belongs to. It will also specify the participating employees and their roles. Moreover, it will have access to the information in the HR directory such as employee's job title and position in the organization chart. The monitoring team will then use this information as evidence in the disciplinary procedure.
Type of Misconduct: The misconduct to be monitored is fraud.
Monitoring Team: The monitoring team will include technical data analysts identified by the ethics board and the Human Resource department.
Reporting Employee Misconduct
Measures to Report Misconduct: Various measures will be adopted to encourage reporting of employee misconduct within the company. Such measures will include setting the right tone at the top by encouraging the top level management to visibly denounce misconduct and support reporting of suspected wrongdoing. The program will also provide continuous training to employees concerning the handling of suspected misconduct. It will also communicate that reporting suspected misconduct is expected and needed by establishing policies and ethics hotlines. Additionally, the program will develop, implement, and promote a strong anti-retaliation policy to ensure that employees who report misconduct or unethical behavior are not victimized or retaliated against. Additionally, promoting a strong ethical culture encourages employees to report suspected misconduct. Evidence of such cultures is transparency, high levels of employee engagement, and open communication throughout the company. Such a culture involves not only the tone at the top but the mood in the middle and the buzz at the bottom. Finally, fostering hiring practices that evaluate candidates for ethics is an essential measure to reporting misconduct in the workplace. Moreover, evaluating job candidates' conduct history, character and ethical reasoning help prevent hiring individuals who lean towards allowing misconduct.
How Employees May Report Misconduct: Any misconduct within the company can be reported either in writing or verbally. The report must contain facts based on personal knowledge or observation, but these facts should be separated from mere suspicions or conclusions. Also, they should not report information availed through rumors. Employees must not make final conclusions unless they are absolutely sure. Also, the misconduct must be described, particularly, the communication and issues involved. Finally, the employees must take complaints to individuals with the authority to correct the problem. They should not talk freely about suspected crime with colleagues not involved in investigating or reporting the misconduct.
Audit of the Ethics Program
The audit will evaluate whether the ethics program is effective. It will avail an opportunity to measure conformity to Company X's core values, ethics policy, internal operating practices, management systems, and stakeholders' expectations.
Tools to Measure the Effectiveness of the Ethics Program: the main tools that will be used to measure the effectiveness of this program are benchmarking, scoring, and employee feedback collected through interviews and surveys. The benchmarking will include all risks, employees' understanding of company values, policies and practices, and business initiatives. Moreover, evidence will be gathered from both internal and external documents. Then, scoring will be done to establish the program scores in regard to those benchmarks, thus identify best practices, findings, and recommendations.
The Frequency of the Review: The review will be done once in every quarter to facilitate continuous identification of improvements.
The ethics committee will conduct the audit. Moreover, this team is knowledgeable about the nature and role of ethics audits. The board should comprise members from various departments within the company.
Implementation of Improvements: All improvements recommended during the reviews will be implemented continuously to enhance the success of the program and avoid a repeat of any past hurdles.
Communication of Changes: Various tools will be used to communicate changes in the ethics program to employees. These channels will include employee sessions, internal memos, emails and flashes, and notice boards.
Ruiz, P., Martinez, R., Rodrigo, J., & Diaz, C. (2015). Level of coherence among ethics program components and its impact on ethical intent. Journal of Business Ethics, 128(4), 725-742.
Valkanas, G., Ipeirotis, P., Provost, F., Attenberg, J., Chin, J., Hendahewa, C., ... & Swamy, B. V. (2018). Detecting Employee Misconduct and Malfeasance.
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