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Importance of Ethics Code
Ethics Code, or Code of Conduct, is a crucial element determining the effectiveness of the company’s operations and its performance. There are several reasons for making this statement. First of all, the Code of Conduct is a necessary minimum for establishing the standards of a firm’s operation. Regardless of the size of a company, a written ethics code determines whether there are lawful grounds for protecting a company itself and its employees.
Moreover, it points to the acceptable behavior of employees and ways to treat them (Terris 69). In simple terms, having a code of conduct defines the rules of the fair play and bounds of propriety. However, to carry out this function, it should be made up in a legally appropriate manner, i.e., its content should aim at identifying principles of an organization’s ethical culture and pay maximum attention to developing mechanisms for addressing most common instances of unethical or illegal behavior in the workplace.
Furthermore, the significance of the ethics code is motivated by the fact that it explains acceptable models of behavior when acting on behalf of an organization, either with employees or other members of a community. That said, it predetermines the path for the firm’s future development (“Lockheed Martin: Code of Conduct” par. 1). Finally, codes of ethics are the foundation of the company’s sustainability in the long run.
Because they are the guidelines for carrying out job duties and cooperating with other members of the business environment and society, codes of conduct are helpful for developing a common sense of belonging and creating a comfortable atmosphere enhancing trust and openness among employees (Garegnani, Merlotti, and Russo 541). It means that well-thought ethics codes minimize the risks of unethical or illegal behavior in the workplace, thus eliminating the threat of instability.
Significance of Employee Involvement and Ethics Training
Employee involvement in ethics program implementation should not be underestimated because, in fact, it is the only way to make it work. In Lockheed Martin, several steps are taken to motivate employee involvement. Firstly, special ethics training programs are launched. They are focused on raising awareness among employees. The basis of this program is the organization of an annual ethics hour – giving employees one hour per year to discuss ethics-related problems and learn how to address ethical issues in the workplace (Terris 72).
Awareness training includes video scenarios showing ways to react to alarming situations in the workplace and recognize them (“Lockheed Martin: Ethics Awareness Training” par. 1). It is worthy of mentioning that nowadays, all employees, regardless of their ranks within the company, are required to attend annual live training sessions and complete recommended tasks teaching how to address different instances of unethical and illegal behavior in the workplace (Transparency International UK 63).
Another tool for enhancing employee involvement is launching the program of employee integrity, referred to as integrity minute. It is a series of ‘Integrity Minute’ videos prepared and presented by employees. They raise awareness of ethics-related issues and offer personal perspectives on solving ethical conflicts and addressing challenges of unethical or illegal behavior in the workplace because all demonstrated situations are taken directly from office files (“Lockheed Martin: Integrity Minute” par. 1). It implies that employees prepare videos investigating the causes of unethical or illegal behaviors and ways to cope with similar problems. Focus is made on sharing personal experience in order to avoid equivalent issues and learn how to overcome them.
Finally, senior management of Lockheed Martin implemented the system of annual awards to everyone, who helped to solve significant ethics-related problems or enhanced communication by improving the effectiveness of the ethics program. An appropriate example of rewards is a chairman award for taking measures to comply with the company’s values and eradicate unethical behavior in the workplace (Terris 79).
Measuring Success with Respect to Ethics in the Workplace
Because Lockheed Martin is an engineering company, it recognizes that every aspect of its operation should be measured, and ethics program implementation in the workplace is not an exception to this rule. A special biennial survey was designed and completed in order to estimate the effectiveness of the company’s ethics program. The study is conducted with the aid of the Ethics Resource Center as a consulting organization. Most surveys are completed online in order to guarantee that majority of employees fill them, and their opinions are included in the general analysis.
Survey questions cover different aspects of the company’s ethics program implementation and operation from abstract principles to more specific problems occurring in the workplace such as the capacity of supervisors and senior managers to deal with ethical conflicts, limitations of ethics program or violations of central provisions of ethics code (Terris 81). According to the findings of the survey, most employees do not believe that they could complete surveys honestly without expecting retaliation by senior management.
Still, the program might be considered successful because the interest in conducting a survey and measuring the effectiveness of the ethics program is seen as a tool for deepening the company’s commitment, thus adding to employee goodwill and feeling valued by Lockheed Martin (Terris 82). However, there is still a challenge to overcome, as nearly every third employee believes that managers and supervisors either fail to recognize the violation of ethics code or ignore the existence of similar problems in the workplace (Terris 83).
Making Ethics Program Work at Operational Level
There are several tricks for making ethics program work at the operational level. First of all, Lockheed Martin never allows an outward person to enter the position of ethics officer regardless of their skills and competence. The emphasis is made on choosing people from the inside to fill this position because it is believed that they are acquainted with the organizational culture and any problems existing in the workplace. It is worthy of mentioning that preference is given to veteran employees, who demonstrated loyalty over long years of work with the company (Terris 82-83). Stress is always laid on valuing people’s issues.
Moreover, Lockheed Martin launched numerous hotlines for reporting unethical matters in the workplace. These are the official channels for sharing detailed information regarding illegal or unethical behavior of colleagues. The major specificity of these lines is the guarantee of confidentiality to everyone, who reported alarming cases. They are referred to as helplines (“Lockheed Martin: Ethics” par. 7). Each hotline is operated by one ethics officer. They are chosen for every area of business operations and localities so that they have enough knowledge of specificities of these sectors and can properly address existing issues (Terris 83).
Except for local and business-based helplines, there is a general hotline for the whole company, which can be fallen upon in case of ineffectiveness of smaller helplines or employee unwillingness to use them in order to remain anonymous. Some other techniques deployed to guarantee the operational effectiveness of the ethics program are integrity program, awareness training, and annual awards mentioned above.
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Garegnani, Giovanni Maria, Emilia Piera Merlotti and Angeloantonio Russo. “Scoring Firms’ Codes of Ethics: An Explorative Study of Quality Drivers.” Journal of Business Ethics 126.4 (2015): 541-557. Print.
Lockheed Martin: Code of Conduct. n.d. Web.
Lockheed Martin: Ethics Awareness Training. n.d. Web.
Lockheed Martin: Integrity Minute. n.d. Web.
Terris, Daniel. Ethics at Work: Creating Virtue at an American Corporation. Waltham, Massachusetts: Brandeis University Press, 2005. Print.
Transparency International UK. Final Assessment: Lockheed Martin Corporation. 2014. Web.