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Ethics refers to a set of values and principles that guide the conduct of members of a profession (Andre, 2010; Miller, 2009). Each professional organization has its own code of ethics. However, all codes of ethics are intended to guide members on what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable conduct. Ethics forms an integral part of mechanical engineering. This paper will begin with a brief description of ten ethical behaviors. This will be followed by a section on the importance of ethics to mechanical engineers. It will end in a section on ethical issues a mechanical engineer may face at work.
There are many deeds that are considered desirable in the workplace. They include respect, integrity, honesty, dignity, justice, equity, fairness, empathy, shared responsibility, equality, accountability, harmony, and truthfulness. Respect can be defined as feeling of regard for a person, a thing, an organization, rules, and ideas. A professional engineer should respect other people’s customs and norms. In addition, respect for ones organization is also important. For example, in the workplace, one should respect other people’s language, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, preferred music and food, feelings, work needs, and privacy.
Integrity refers to strict adherence to strong moral behavior. That is, being consistent in manifesting desirable behavior. A professional needs integrity to perform well at work. For example, a professional who has strong values does not accept or offer bribes.
Honesty refers to being sincere and truthful. Professionals should be truthful and sincere. Honesty is a trait that should define a professional. For example, when people report to work late, then they should report it.
Diligence is a virtue that allows one to steadfastly apply effort. A professional should strive to always work diligently. Hard work is a virtue that runs across all sectors of life. For example, an individual should keep personal matters like phone calls to a minimum when they are working.
Fairness is a virtue that enables one to treat others without bias or injustice. Since the place of work is made up of various individuals, one should judge others without prejudice. For example, one should not exhibit bias based on religious or political believes. Fairness requires a balanced and objective analysis of others.
Accountability is the quality of accepting responsibility for ones actions. Accountability enables professionals to give accurate reports. A mechanical engineer should be accountable both at work and outside the workplace. For instance, one should report accurately how funds were used. There should be no alterations.
Shared responsibility is a quality that enables one to work in a manner that promotes cooperation. It is desirable to promote cooperation and collaboration in the workplace. Though an organization is comprised of various departments, all the departments should work to uphold the overall organizational goal. A worker who values shared responsibility encourages consultation during the decision making process. For example, asking others to give their inputs during rebranding.
Empathy is the ability to feel other people’s difficulties. It is an important virtue in the place of work. It enables a member of an organization to understand his colleagues. This promotes cohesion at work. For example, showing empathy to colleagues experiencing work related or personal difficulties.
Equality is the desirable habit of granting all members of an organization same status. This implies that all members of a company are equal with respect to some aspects. For example, management should not give preferential treatment to some employees.
Importance of ethics to mechanical engineers
It can be said that ethics constitutes a risk management system for a mechanical engineer. First, it is necessary for an engineer to manifest high ethical conduct in order to avoid situations that can ruin ones career. For instance, unethical behavior like conflict of interest can end ones career. It is important for mechanical engineers to declare any conflict of interest when dealing with some organizations (Dzienkowski, 1990). This is especially crucial if an individual works for the government (White, 1999). Secondly, ethical conduct enables one to avoid costly legal battles.
Unethical conduct can cause legal problems. Legal battles are expensive and they may cause financial difficulties. Thirdly, engineers operate in communities which have their own norms and values. It is important for professionals to behave in a manner that is acceptable in the community in which they operate. Moreover, ethical conduct enables one to establish good relationships. Since mechanical engineers design various structures, it is important to work in an ethical manner to ensure public safety. The public trusts that mechanical engineers will design and oversee the construction of mechanically sound structures.
Ethical issues in the workplace
Ethical issues that mechanical engineers may face in the workplace include theft, bribery, lying, disrespect, misuse of office hours, sexual harassment, lack of accountability, dishonesty, injustice, and favoritism. Theft is taking company property without permission. Theft in an organization can be perpetuated by both management and the lower cadres of employees. Lying is a misrepresentation of an activity that one either witnessed or took part in.
This can be motivated by the desire to avoid punishment. Employees can misuse office hours by attending to personal matters or engaging in nonproductive activities. Lack of accountability refers to a situation in which an individual intentionally fails to give accurate financial information. Sexual harassment refers to sexual mistreatment. Disrespect refers to a situation in which an individual does not have regard for others. Injustice refers to failure to grant an individual fair judgment. Favoritism is a situation in which some employs are treated better than others.
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Ethics refers to a set of values that guide professional conduct. Ethical conduct is an important aspect of mechanical engineering. Ethical deeds include respect, integrity, honesty, dignity, justice, equity, fairness, empathy, shared responsibility, equality, accountability, and diligence. Ethical conduct is important to mechanical engineers because it enables them to avoid legal trouble and situations that can ruin ones career. It is also important because mechanical engineers work in communities that expect them to behave in a certain way.
Andre, C. (2010). What is Ethics? Web.
Dzienkowski, S. (1990). Taking Positional Conflicts of Interest Seriously. Business and Professional Ethics Journal, 9, 109-128.
Miller, C. (2009). The Conditions of Moral Realism. The Journal of Philosophical Research, 34, 123-155.
White, D. (1999). Public ethics, moral development, and the enduring legacy of Lawrence Kohlberg: Implications for public officials. Public Integrity, 1(2), 121–134.