Is There A Right Way To Bring Up An Ethical Issue At Work?

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Workplace ethics can be a difficult subject to talk about. After all, loyalty, honesty and morality are traits that we expect our fellow workers to have. However, some might not hold these qualities as dear as others. Unfortunately, you will probably have to face an ethical issue during your time in the workforce. And, yes, it will probably be uncomfortable to deal with. Fortunately, by preparing yourself before the issues arises, you can effectively handle the issue with professionalism.

Experts explain that it is important to prepare yourself for the correct approach before a situation arises. One of the most important things you can do is educate yourself on the federal, state and local laws regarding whistleblowing. Whether you are the boss or an employee, it is important to know what kind of protection you have if the need arises. For example, in the state of Texas, the whistleblower law reads, “a public employee who claims that his suspension, termination, or other adverse personnel action was in retaliation for his good faith reporting of violations of the law the right to sue for damages and other relief.”

On the rare chance that you find yourself wrongfully in trouble for speaking up about an unethical situation at work, remember that you have rights.

“Getting legal representation in these types of situations can be helpful,” explains Gus Kostopoulos, a leading criminal defense lawyer. “A lawyer can help make sense of the legislation that could provide you with the protection you need.”

Besides knowing the legal standards, it is also important to know your company’s policy about addressing concerns. Everyone should be held to the same expectations, from CEO to part time worker. In fact, the most successful companies have policies that are reviewed with their employees on a regular basis.

So, you’ve educated yourself with all the knowledge you need to know in case of an ethical concern. However, what happens when you actually witness an issue. Let’s say you discover that one of your superiors is having an affair with a co-worker. You decide to ignore the issue as long as it is not affecting others. Then, you realize that the co-worker is getting preferential treatment. What do you do?

Actually, there are a number of ways you could react. According to Mark Pastin, a leading ethics consultant and bestselling author, explains that there are different ethical leadership personalities: conformist, navigator, negotiator and wiggler. In an interview with Business News Daily, Pastin explains how each of these traits handles these issues. The conformist is someone who follows the rules by the book. However, when they discover an ethical issue, they may turn the other cheek. A navigator holds a very strong moral compass and is willing to make decisions and confront situations, no matter how difficult they may be. A negotiator makes the rules up as they go. Their decisions will change on the way a scenario is being played out. Wigglers embrace their self interest and will do what is best for them.

Before you begin to worry about which personality you are, Pastin reveals that each person can be a mixture. In fact, you can even teach yourself to embrace a specific trait. Just remember, the best way to approach these situations is to already have a policy in place.

“Most ethical issues that arise in the work environment can be solved if raised in a timely manner,” Pastin told BusinessNewsDaily. “The problem is that many people avoid speaking in terms of ethical concerns. Welcome disagreement and controversy in the office to foster a more ethical work environment.”

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