Ethical Responsibilities of Employees
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Each enterprise establishes obligatory rules of conduct including levels of responsibility, as well as ethical standards adopted in the company. These rules are clearly defined in the Code of Ethics or they exist in the form of unspoken rules, which are supported and upgraded for existing employees during training sessions on adopted ethical and moral norms of behavior.
According to Trevino and Weaver (2003) each employee must establish a long-term partnership with each client on the basis of trustworthy and mutual respect; avoid discrimination on political, religious, ethnic, age and gender reasons. An employee should faithfully and fully honor their obligations. The employee has no right to disclose customer information; any personal data should be maintained under strict confidentiality. This information may be used only by authorized persons of the company pursuant to internal procedures. Employee should follow the dress code common for the particular company. It is advised to wear business suits that allow many combinations for different occasions and every time of day.
Long conversations on personal issues over the phone, as well as communication between employees, distracting from the performance of work assignments (lots of laughter, conversation, music) are not accepted. It is forbidden in ethical rules to take any deliberate actions knowing that in advance they can bring financial and moral damage to the company, to strike at the company's reputation or the reputation of its clients and partners.
The employee must carefully and thoughtfully use company’s material assets, regardless of the fact that if they are financially responsible persons or not. It is not accepted late for work and meetings. In case of unforeseen circumstances, an employee should inform his colleagues and supervisors about this delay. Subordinated employee should not give any critical remarks in the presence of all colleagues and should discuss the problem matter only in person (Ambrose, Arnaud & Schminke, 2008).
In the employee-supervisor relationships, it is considered unethical to present a gift or make another personal acknowledgement, except of traditionally accepted events, such as birthday, marriage or retirement, but this gift will be addressed from division’s staff as a whole. Employees must avoid taking part in the signing contracts, in grants procedures or being involved in specific investigations that influence financial interests of an employee himself and members of his family.
Specific ethical responsibilities of employees are pointed in the Code of Business Conduct devised by the Coca-Cola Company (2008). It is stated that trust and confidence is a background and the key to the high reputation; that is why each employee in its working activity must act remembering rules of integrity, proud, honest and mutual respect to the fellow employees, supervisors, customers and partners.
The core place in ethical rules and employees obligations is taken by the issue of appropriate use of company’s assets. Specifically, the employee should not use assets, in particular, “company’s money or product, employees’ time at work and work product, computer systems and software, telephones, wireless communication devices, photocopiers, tickets to concerts and sporting events, Company vehicles, proprietary information and Company trademarks” (Code of Business Conduct The Coca-Cola Company, 2008). Regarding the responsibilities before the community, the employee should not be involved in any bribe and fraud procedures that undermine the reputation of the company as an honest player in the market.
Employee should not obtain competitive information by theft, coercion, wiretapping, invasion of privacy espionage, or other illegal activities. In dealing with consumers, it is the rule for each employee to treat the customer as one wants him to behave with him. It implies the responsibility and moral obligation in providing fair and full information about the product and activities of the company. The employee should not falsify documents, disclose information that the employee got by mistake or any other internal confidential information.
Moreover, as it is stated in the Code of Business Conduct The Coca-Cola Company (2008) employee has no right to accept any gift with the promise to act in favor of the gift giver, whether he is a fellow employee, customer or partner. Exceptions are trophies with a low value or discounts proposed by the partner for the majority of employees as a part of the business contract. Important aspect of specific moral obligation is the responsibility of the employee to obtain the written approval from the Local Ethics Officer, in case when the employee has discretionary authority and is going to deal with the partner or customer where his relatives work.
It is also crucial that the Coca Cola Company does not only educate its employees in terms of ethical rules and norms, but also is ready to hear proposals, concerns and facts about the unethical behavior in its global team at the existing ethics center EthicsLine. Reprimand in case of not serious issues, withdrawal of salary and even the termination of employment are used as punishment for the Ethics Code violation. Its example should be implemented in other companies that strive for a perfect reputation at the market.
Every common and specific ethical responsibility, moral obligations before the fellow employees, supervisors, company as a whole, customers and community should be described in details and with practical examples in the Code of Ethics of each company. It is intended to establish standards of ethical conduct governing relationships within the internal team and external partners; a tool to prevent violations and conflicts, as well as for the development of a corporate culture based on high ethical standards.