How to Be Ethical at Work Video

Video Transcript

Establishing the values that are most important to you, and to your team, is the first step toward working ethically.

Welcome to Mind Tools' video learning series.

Your personal ethics are the values that matter to you, such as honesty and integrity. They help you to remain true to yourself and to your employer.

But it can be easy for these ethics to slip sometimes, and to do something that goes against your "better judgment."

You may believe that you're doing it for the right reasons. Perhaps you tell a "white lie" to a customer to avoid losing a sale. Or maybe you "talk up" your achievements to help get a promotion.

But a bad ethical decision can have a corrosive effect. You may start to get a "taste" for cutting corners. And, sooner or later, this will damage your professional reputation.

An ethical lapse can also have a negative effect on the people around you.

Perhaps you've done something small, but annoying – like leaving a paper jam in a printer for a colleague to clear up.

Or, maybe your slip-up is more serious, such as lying to cover up a mistake you've made and shifting the blame to someone else.

More serious behavior, such as covering up irregular accounting or discriminating against someone, can damage your whole business.

But, if you have a strong code of ethics, the people you work with will see you as reliable and trustworthy. This can improve teamwork, communication and performance.

So, how can you ensure that you make the right ethical decisions?

First, write down your own personal code of ethics.

This should contain a series of "I will" statements that commit you to certain standards of behavior.

For example, you could say, "I will be honest about any mistakes that I make."

Then, write down the unethical behaviors that you will not take part in, and that you will not tolerate from your team members.

For example, you could say, "I will not give our customers misleading information about our products."

Make sure that everyone in your team knows what kind of behavior is and isn't acceptable. This will build trust and openness.

You could even incorporate your code of ethics into a team charter, and encourage everyone to sign up to it.

But, don't be too "pushy." Remember, in a healthy organization, people do the right thing because they want to, not because they have to.

To learn more about being ethical at work, read the article that accompanies this video.

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