Stop Rationalizing Your Company’s Bad Choices as “Everybody’s Doing It”

Everyone hopes to work in an ethical workplace. Not only is it good for your company’s reputation, but it helps you avoid fines and legal trouble, even jail time. A company that has a good, ethical reputation is a desirable place to work. That culture of ethics starts at the top leadership, and if it doesn’t exist, misconduct can become contagious. Your employees will begin to think that if one person does something that’s unethical and doesn’t get caught, they can do it, too. Here’s why you can’t rationalize your company’s unethical behavior just because everyone’s doing it.   


Be a desirable place to work.  

Companies with ethical reputations attract more talented job applicants and grow into a workplace where employees have no trouble buying into the mission statement and company values. These workers are more motivated and productive. On the other hand, employees who work in a place where bad behavior is tolerated, or even encouraged, are more likely to leave, be unproductive, or grow disillusioned with their jobs.  


Be more profitable.  

Ethical companies are more financially successful, probably because their employees are more motivated and productive. They also don’t have to pay out penalizing fines; thus, they’re more stable and secure. Employees, clients, and customers don’t trust companies who have unethical reputations and are less likely to do business with them.   


Be an ethical manager.  

If you don’t model ethical behavior as a manager, you can’t expect your employees to do the same. You set the tone for your whole company as people assume your actions are representative of what happens in the rest of the company, as well. If one of your employees reports misconduct, you have a duty to follow-up and make sure there are consequences. Nip those behaviors in the bud as soon as possible, so they don’t get contagious, and your other employees don’t assume that everyone’s doing it. Each time someone makes an unethical decision, the next one gets easier—it’s a slippery slope.   


Teach ethics and compliance.  

Sometimes there’s a gray area, and your employees aren’t sure what’s ethical and legal. Because your employees come from a variety of backgrounds, you can’t guarantee that they know what’s appropriate. So it’s up to you to teach them. Incorporate ethical training as part of your orientation procedures and make sure a handbook is distributed to and seen by all your new employees. Live training is more memorable than online training, and it allows your team to talk through examples and have a dialogue about what’s appropriate.   


For more tips on creating an ethical workplace that motivates and inspires your employees, check out our website at   



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