Ethical Organizations

How Can You Recognize an Ethical Organization?

One goal of anyone engaged in business should be to foster ethical behaviour in the organizational environment. How do we know when an organization is behaving ethically? Most lists of ethical organizational activities include the following criteria:

  • Treating employees, customers, investors, and the public fairly
  • Holding every member personally accountable for his or her action
  • Communicating core values and principles to all members
  • Demanding and rewarding integrity from all members in all situations[1]

Employees at companies that consistently make Business Ethics magazine’s list of the “100 Best Corporate Citizens” regard the items on the previous list as business as usual in the workplace. Companies at the top of the 2016 list include Microsoft, Hasbro, Ecolab, Bristol-Myers-Squibb, and Lockheed Martin. [2]

By contrast, employees with the following attitudes tend to suspect that their employers aren’t as ethical as they should be:

  • They consistently feel uneasy about the work they do.
  • They object to the way they’re treated.
  • They’re uncomfortable about the way coworkers are treated.
  • They question the appropriateness of management directives and policies.[3]

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment occurs when an employee makes “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature” to another employee. It’s also considered sexual harassment when “submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.”[4]

Sexual harassment rocketed to the top of news reports and social media when The New York Times broke the story  on October 5, 2017, of Harvey Weinstein’s decades of harassment in Hollywood. In March of 2018, CBC News collated the allegations of sexual harassment against prominent Canadians. The list, including only those allegations reported by CBC, highlight the prevalence of this issue.

To prevent sexual harassment—or at least minimize its likelihood—a company should adopt a formal anti-harassment policy describing prohibited conduct, asserting its objections to the behaviour, and detailing penalties for violating the policy. Employers also have an obligation to investigate harassment complaints. Failure to enforce anti-harassment policies can be very costly. At the end of 2017, 353 women had submitted and finalized sexual harassment, discrimination or intimidation claims against the RCMP with as many as another 650 expected to file. To settle these claims, the government of Canada has set aside $100 million.[5]

Workforce Diversity | Inclusive Workplaces

In addition to complying with equal employment opportunity laws, many companies make special efforts to recruit employees who are underrepresented in the workforce according to sex, race, or some other characteristic. In helping to build more inclusive workforces, such initiatives contribute to competitive advantage for two reasons:

  1. People from diverse backgrounds bring new talents and fresh perspectives to an organization, typically enhancing creativity in the development of new products.
  2. By more accurately reflecting the demographics of the marketplace, a diverse workforce improves a company’s ability to serve an ethnically diverse population.

Each year The Globe and Mail, reports on Canada’s Top 100 Employers. Peruse the list of industry winners and follow through to highlights detailing why the company topped the list.

Please note the selection process:

To determine this year’s winners of the Canada’s Best Diversity Employers competition, Mediacorp editors reviewed diversity and inclusiveness initiatives at employers that applied for the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project. From this applicant pool, a smaller short-list of employers with noteworthy and unique diversity initiatives was developed. The short-listed candidates’ programs were compared to those of other employers in the same field. The finalists chosen represent the diversity leaders in their industry and region of Canada.

  1. Axelrod, A. (2007). My First Book of Business Ethics. Philadelphia: Quirk Books.
  2. Corporate Responsibility Magazine. (2016). 100 Best Corporate Citizens for 2016.
  3. Axelrod, A. (2007). My First Book of Business Ethics. Philadelphia: Quirk Books.
  4. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2016). Facts about Sexual Harassment. Retrieved from:
  5. Civilian Review and Complaints Commission. (2017). Report into Workplace Harassment in the RCMP.


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