Workplace ethics involve developing an atmosphere of respect and tolerance for everyone. An ethical workplace strives to conduct business in a manner that is beneficial to owners, employees and customers. An ethical workplace involves refraining from negative behavior and actively striving to improve ethical performance and understanding.
In a world that often features intolerance and misunderstanding between groups, a central factor in an ethical workplace is the inclusion of all people, regardless of their race, religion, sexual preference or culture. The modern workplace often features people of widely divergent backgrounds, and it is critical that they respect each other if the workplace is to be a pleasant and positive place. People with differing viewpoints are not required to become best friends, but they are required to maintain a professional manner and to keep hurtful and destructive opinions to themselves.
Honesty is a central factor in an ethical workplace. Honest dealings need to occur between management and employees, between co-workers, and between the business and its customers. If any of these relationships is characterized by deception and lying, it will undermine the social health and effectiveness of the workplace.
Businesses are legally and ethically required to follow certain rules regarding workers' rights, business activities and environmental regulations. Breaking the law is a clear contravention of the standards of an ethical workplace. Illegal activities that are found in a workplace include tax evasion, discrimination against certain groups and violation of environmental laws, such as protecting air and water. Employees who may not be responsible for these policies are ethically bound to report these situations to the proper authorities.
Disclosure is a more specific subcategory of honesty within the elements that comprise ethical behavior in a workplace. While honesty is expected in all situations, disclosure is sometimes appropriate and sometimes not. For example, business owners are not expected or required to reveal their financial details to customers. However, problems or situations that may affect or endanger employees or customers must be exposed. Some examples include automotive recalls when potentially dangerous flaws are identified; and discontinuation of products that are determined to be unhealthy.