Ethics and Conduct
Recently I attended an ethics workshop which was organised by my employer and it got me thinking about how we arrived where we are now. And where are we? We are at a point where we need other people to monitor our behaviour in the workplace to ensure that we conduct ourselves with integrity and honesty at all times. There is huge amounts of money that is being spent not just by us, but companies and organisations worldwide, to have and implement an ethical culture amongst its employees. Codes of conduct have been developed to assist employees to uphold a particular type of behaviour.
This is normally reinforced by a disciplinary code which sets out the consequences of not adhering to the code of conduct. It is however amazing that despite all these, there are employees that disregard the code of conduct and related policies risking even dismissal at work.
Nowadays we have commission after commission sitting to hear how people that were entrusted either with public funds or lives of people have breached that trust. Some became greedy and disregarded the needs of others. The Zondo Commission that has been set up by the President continues to reveal the extent of corruption as a result of unethical behaviour that has reached even the most senior leadership in government.
This is not to say there is no unethical behaviour in the private sector, of course there is a lot. Remember the Ponzi scheme where people invested their hard earned money hoping for a great return instead they lost everything. That was not in South Africa but the United States of America. Therefore it is not about the country, nor the nationality nor is it about race. Corruption and unethical behaviour knows no colour, race, gender or nationality. It is about the condition of your heart and the values one upholds.
Growing up in the township it was common for people to go door to door selling goods. I remember my mother used to tell us over and over again “never buy stolen goods”. It was not an easy thing to avoid but my mother was a very strong woman who did not mince her words and she was not lazy to give you a good hiding either. So this remained with me through my life and I knew wherever I was that I should not associate with stolen items including stealing. This and many other small things she taught us while still little have somehow guided our lives including how we conduct ourselves.
What relation has this to do with the code of conduct at work? You see if one has not been given the right kind of values at home and made to grow with these, no code of conduct at work will change your behaviour. It therefore means there is much work that must be done at the home in order to shape the leaders of tomorrow who will be ethical and do things with integrity.