Ethics is a branch of philosophy that focuses on good and bad, what is considered right and wrong by society. Professional ethics is the set of moral norms that individuals must follow when exercising any activity.
The purpose of ethics is to guarantee peaceful coexistence within communities. This idea can also be applied to relationships within companies and between that company and the society in which it operates. It is ethics that define acceptable codes of conduct for achieving the common good, including in the corporate environment.
What is the importance of professional ethics?
In the case of the individual who exercises a profession, the first advantage of acting according to ethical parameters is to have the guarantee of a clear conscience. This provides the certainty that your conduct is correct and does not harm others.
Observing professional ethics is also important in terms of career. In addition to competence in the exercise of functions, companies value employees who have an ethical and exemplary behavior. Thus, values such as honesty, humility and respect for others are allies for those who want to stand out at work and win the admiration of bosses and colleagues.
From the point of view of companies, respect for professional ethics guarantees, first of all, a harmonious work environment, which is reflected in the level of commitment and satisfaction of employees. This friendly atmosphere improves team performance, leading to increased productivity and the development of the company as a whole.
The ethical performance of a company also affects the image that the organization projects among its customers, partners and suppliers, being an advantage over the competition in a society increasingly attentive to the notion of social responsibility.
What is a professional code of ethics?
In its generic definition, ethics does not always translate into laws and other formal norms, which are mandatory. However, professional ethics are usually governed by specific codes of conduct and statutes, created by class representation councils.
These regulations, sometimes called “codes of ethics”, standardize the exercise of the profession, its procedures and the conduct to be followed. The objective is to guarantee the safety of professionals, service users and society itself.
The application of codes of ethics is usually supervised by the councils that created them, and professionals who disrespect the moral principles of their category can be punished.
An example of these regulations is the Accountant’s Professional Code of Ethics (CEPC), approved by Resolution No. 803/1996 of the Federal Accounting Council. Psychologists, doctors, nurses, lawyers and administrators, among other professionals, are also governed by their own regulations.
Professional ethics in the corporate environment
In addition to the code of ethics in its category, a professional may also be subject to the rules of the company for which he works. The Organizational Code of Ethics is the set of rules created by some organizations and that must be followed by all its employees.
The function of the Code of Ethics is to guarantee the achievement of the company’s objectives and to provide the standardization of work procedures. Thus it is possible to build an environment of respect, making clear the rules of conduct compatible with the values of the corporation.
In order to work well, the codes of organizational conduct must take into account the specificity of the company’s activity, looking for examples on a daily basis for its application. In addition, the regulation needs to be drafted clearly and available to everyone.
Companies often have mechanisms to ensure compliance with these standards, both rewards for good examples and punishments for those who have unethical behavior.
Examples of ethical work practices
Even in companies that do not have an ethical code of conduct, there are behavioral parameters that must be taken into account by all professionals. These principles are based on common sense, that is, on the values that guide society as a whole.
One example is honesty. An ethical professional is one who speaks the truth. Obtaining a false medical certificate to be absent from work or transferring the blame for a mistake you made to someone else are behaviors that hurt this value.
An attitude of respect towards colleagues and the hierarchy is also expected of any professional. The ethical professional does not gossip, does not try to outwit another employee and does not treat his colleagues arrogantly. In the case of a boss, criticism is expected to be made politely, without debauchery or humiliation.
It is also necessary that everyone separate their professional relationships from personal ones. Employees must be recognized or criticized based only on their performance and competence. The responsible exercise of the function must be above any personal advantage. Accepting a gift from a supplier in exchange for closing a contract, for example, is not an ethical attitude.
Responsibility, transparency, competence, commitment and humility are other examples of society’s values that must be reflected in professional conduct.