In businesses, there is a thin line between ethical and unethical practices. Most businesses may find themselves failing to draw the line between the two. According to the Global Business Ethics Survey of 2018, 40 % of employees believe that their company has a weak leaning ethical culture, and that little progress has been made to alleviate wrongdoing. This article will explore some of the ethical issues that have plagued some businesses.
Fraudulent accounting practices
A common problem especially in public traded companies is deliberately reporting false accounting information. An example of this is a 2001 scandal that involved American energy company Enron, which for years inaccurately reported its financial statements and its auditor, accounting firm Arthur Andersen, knowingly signed off on these inaccurate statements. The result of this was a loss of over 80 000 jobs. Most companies do this as a tax evasion methods however this can have disastrous consequences once the truth comes to light.
The biggest question involving social media is, “Is it ethical for companies to fire or otherwise punish employees for what they post about?” The widespread nature of social media has made it a factor in employee conduct online and after hours. Are social media posts counted as “free speech”? The line is complicated, but it is drawn when an employee’s online activities are considered disloyal to the employer. This means that a Facebook post complaining about work is not punishable on its own but can be punishable if it does something to reduce business.
Health and Safety
The International Labour Organization (ILO) states that 7,397 people die every day from occupational accidents or work-related diseases. This results in more than 2.7 million deaths per year.
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, the top 10 most frequently cited violations of 2018 were:
- Fall Protection, e.g. unprotected sides and edges and leading edges
- Hazard Communication, e.g. classifying harmful chemicals
- Scaffolding, e.g. required resistance and maximum weight numbers
- Respiratory Protection, e.g. emergency procedures and respiratory/filter equipment standards
- Lockout/Tag out, e.g. controlling hazardous energy such as oil and gas
- Powered Industrial Trucks, e.g. safety requirements for fire trucks
- Ladders, e.g. standards for how much weight a ladder can sustain
- Electrical, Wiring Methods, i.e. procedures for how to circuit to reduce electromagnetic interference
- Machine Guarding, e.g. clarifying that guillotine cutters, shears, power presses and other machines require point of operation guarding
- Electrical, General Requirements; i.e. not placing conductors or equipment in damp or wet locations
Physical harm isn’t the only safety issue to be aware of, though. In 2019, an ILO report focused on rise of “psychosocial risks” and work-related stress. These risks, which include factors like job insecurity, high demands, effort-reward imbalance, and low autonomy, have been associated with health-related behavioural risks, including a sedentary lifestyle, heavy alcohol consumption, increased cigarette smoking, and eating disorders.
The line between technology & privacy
Lindah Mavengere is a Business Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm.
Phone: +263 242 481946-48/481950
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Main Website: www.ipcconsultants.com
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