Businesses are primarily profit-driven enterprises that focus on selling products and services at the best possible price (Guiling, 2013). On the other hand, as explained by Noe et al. (2009), it is also necessary for corporations to take into account whether their operations are in line with proper ethical action (Noe et al., 2009). This is due to the potential negative ramifications unethical actions could have on the future of a company in terms of general public opinion conveyed towards it or government regulations which specifically prohibit particular types of unethical actions within corporate entities. Thus, it is necessary to implement some form of internal control to ensure that employees within the company act in an ethical manner.
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I believe that the best way in which a senior executive could mentor a junior employee is to lead by example. One example in which this can be seen is in the case of Greg Smith, a former Goldman Sachs employee, who wrote an article for the New York Post where he elaborated on the internal culture of Goldman Sachs. He stated that senior executives within the firm actively referred to clients as “Muppets” and focused more on making money for the firm instead of making money for their clients (Finance Without Romance, 2013) Smith explains that this behavior actively fostered unethical behavior among junior employees and was one of the reasons why he left Goldman (Finance Without Romance, 2013).
When considering this, it can be seen that the behavior of senior executives towards clients and company operations has a distinct impact on junior employees through the process of emulation. If a senior executive acts unethical, the junior employee will likely become unethical as well.
As an employee, I would look towards the actions of the CFO and the type of business culture he/she fosters as a way of guiding my actions. As explained by Noe et al. (2009), the organizational culture of a company as well as the attitudes, mannerisms, and work standards of senior executives have a distinct impact on how employees act and work within a company (Noe et al., 2009). If I had a CFO that placed a high priority on ethical behavior and actions, I would likely attempt to be as ethical as I could be in preparing the financial statements. On the other end of the spectrum, if the CFO was unethical it would be likely that I would become unethical as well.
One possible method that an HR department could use to develop ethical financial executives is to ensure the creation of a proper succession plan within the company that ensures that only those that have displayed proper ethical qualities are slated for promotion into higher positions within the company. I developed this concept based on the section on succession planning by Noe et al. (2009) where I realized that if the HR department could control who advanced in the company, then only the most ethical would be placed in positions of influence which would help to foster an ethical business culture.
Evaluation of Traditional Training Method
Apprenticeships in the form of mentoring can be considered a useful method for fostering ethical behavior since it enables a senior manager/executive within the company to impart the necessary ethical mindset needed to ensure that junior employees become oriented towards ethical behavior (Butler & Keys, 1973).
If the goal of an HR department is to ensure that employees think and act ethically, then behavioral modeling is a useful training method to implement. This is due to its ability to present junior employees with a model to emulate and match key behaviors (Butler & Keys, 1973).
Overall, it has been shown in this paper that exposing employees to the right people within the organization and fostering the right kind of ethical business culture can have a positive impact on the development of their sense of business ethics.
Butler, J. L., & Keys, J. (1973). A comparative study of simulation and traditional methods of supervisory training in human resource development. Academy Of Management Proceedings (00650668), 302-305.
Finance Without Romance. (2013). New Republic, 244(1), 55-57.
Guiling, W. (2013). From “Double Pyramid” Thoughts to Corporate Social Responsibility for Enterprise Employees. Journal Of Management & Strategy, 4(1), 108-112.
Noe, R., Hollenbeck, J., Gerhart, B., & Wright, P. (2009). Fundamentals of human resource management, 3rd edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.