Does the Ethics Program Prevent Ethical Breaches at the Highest Level of the Organization?
According to the notion expressed by Terris, Lockheed Martin’s ethics program is inefficient when it comes to ethical breaches at the highest level (95). The problem can be explained by the available power resources that make breaches possible and the fact that no responsibility is imposed on senior managers regardless of their gender. Speaking of the very pinnacle of the corporation, it is determined that they should participate in annual training programs. These programs are launched at the highest level that means that senior managers are participants and familiar with the company’s Code of Conduct (“Lockheed Martin: Ethics Awareness Training” par. 2). Moreover, according to the ethics program, ethics officers should address cases involving those occupying the highest positions.
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However, in practice, the notion made by Terris is not supported by facts. Because there are numerous instances of public scandals involving chief leaders of the corporation, the assumption that the Code of Conduct adopted by Lockheed Martin does not control its leaders is unjust. One of the appropriate examples of similar cases is forcing out a chief executive because of unethical relationships with a subordinate (Drew par. 1).
These instances prove that even though the ethics program does not prevent breaches at the highest level, it does stimulate investigations and drawing accurate conclusions regardless of the occupied position. In this case, the focus should be made on the outcome of a situation, and the very fact that the matter was solved by forcing a chief executive out means that Terris was wrong and the established ethics program is productive.
Are the Efforts Enough to Help Executives Navigate the ‘Ethical Minefields’ Faced by Leadership?
When speaking of an ethics program designed and implemented at Lockheed Martin, it determines three significant claims related to chief executives and senior leadership. First of all, the highest-level executives should participate in training programs to be acquainted with the ethics program and become role models for other employees. Moreover, all leaders undergo the same training programs and take the same modules as ordinary employees. Finally, they get involved in consultations with ethics officers in case of violations or breaches of the Code of Conduct (Terris 99). It means that all team members are treated equally without regard to the occupied position. At least, this provision is determined by the established ethics program.
Nevertheless, this system has some significant drawbacks. This statement can be explained by the fact that even though the program is comprehensive it is more integrative at lower levels, leaving the highest ranks disunited. Still, the very fact that senior management and chief executives support the program is beneficial for creating a strong corporate culture. However, there is one more challenge. As the highest officials remain disunited and are not integrated into their opinions regarding ethics-related issues, the risk of ethical minefields grows higher (Terris 99). It means that to eliminate it or at least minimize it, it is imperative to take steps that would guarantee integrity at the highest level of the corporation just like it is achieved among those occupying lower positions.
What Can Be Done to Address Ethics-Related Issues at Higher Executive Levels of the Organization?
As it was noticed before, to address ethics-related issues, it is imperative to achieve high levels of integrity. As for now, the integrity program is brought to life through implementing the Integrity Minute initiative – sharing videos made based on real-life ethics issues faced by the company’s employees (“Lockheed Martin: Integrity Minute” par. 1). However, this program has some significant disadvantages.
First of all, even though these videos are highly informative and helpful for obtaining an in-depth understanding of the ethics program, watching or preparing them is not obligatory and everyone is free to choose whether they want to spend their free time watching them. Hence, the first recommendation that would help address the existing problem is to make these videos obligatory. They can be turned into one of the elements of the ethics training program. Taking this step would be beneficial for fostering integrity at all levels including the highest one because it would enhance a corporate environment and contribute to establishing the feeling of unity and wholeness.
Moreover, the emergence of ethics-related issues at the highest levels of the organization is directly linked to management failures. This statement can be viewed from two perspectives. First of all, there is a matter of individual responsibility. However, it can be blurred at the highest positions because they aim at organizing others instead of monitoring themselves. At the same time, it is connected to the concept of authority.
To minimize the risk of ethics-related issues, it is imperative to guarantee that even chief executives will be brought to an account in case of violating provisions of the Code of Conduct (Gentilin 35). So, enhancing integrity and designing efficient control measures is the foundation of overcoming the challenge of ethics-related issues at the highest-level executives and among leaders.
What Can Be Done to Overcome the Challenge of Failing to Address Group Dynamics?
Group dynamics is a common challenge at Lockheed Martin because as groups slide, there is a risk of establishing unethical behaviors that are ignored. After all, individuals do not see them as a problem (Terris 95). Several recommendations can help overcome this challenge and address group dynamics. First of all, it is imperative to draw attention to the existence of this problem. This recommendation is based on the assumption that awareness is the foundation of reaching an effective solution (Cremer and Bettignies 67).
Once senior managers recognize that the problem does exist and should be addressed, they should focus on the concepts of power and obedience. This recommendation can be viewed from two perspectives. First of all, it is vital to understand that each group has a leader, a person who is powerful enough to shape the acceptable frame of behavior that can be either ethical or fail to meet the ethical standards of a company. If this powerful leader establishes an unethical frame of behavior, it leads to group moral failures (Neufeldt 126).
In this case, it is appropriate to point to the leader’s responsibility to behave ethically. At the same time, senior managers should remember that they are leaders as well. It means that they have enough authority to resolve similar issues and change the established model of behavior and limit violations (Gentilin 35). In case if it is impossible to change those affecting group behavior, isolating them is also an acceptable option to make others realize that there is only one leader in the company, thus making them obedient and respecting ethical norms (Agbaria and Cohen 7). To sum up, awareness and strong leadership are the keys to addressing the problem of group moral failures at Lockheed Martin.
Agbaria, Farhat, and Cynthia Cohen. Working with Groups in Conflict: The Impact of Power Relations on the Dynamics of the Group. n.d. Web.
Cremer, David, and Henri-Claude Bettignies. “Pragmatic Business Ethics.” Business Strategy Review 24.2 (2013): 64-67. Print.
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Drew, Christopher. Lockheed’s Incoming Chief Forced Out over Ethics Violation. 2012. Web.
Gentilin, Dennis. The Origins of Ethical Failures: Lessons for Leaders. Abingdon: Routledge, 2016. Print.
Lockheed Martin: Ethics Awareness Training. n.d. Web.
Lockheed Martin: Integrity Minute. n.d. Web.
Neufeldt, Reina C. Ethics for Peacebuilders: A Practical Guide. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016. Print.
Terris, Daniel. Ethics at Work: Creating Virtue at an American Corporation. Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2005. Print.