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The Role Of Personal Ethics In An Organization

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What Role Does Personal Ethics Play in an Organization

In late 2001, the United States economy experienced a shock as Enron, the country's 7th largest corporation, declared bankruptcy. Many people lost their jobs, and even more investors lost billions of stock dollars as shares collapsed. As the rubble was removed, many signs of unethical acts surfaced, and were found to be carried out by some of the principal parties in the company. This debacle not only affected the employees and investors of the company, but also affected the regulations and the credibility of corporations today.

As seen in the Enron failure, corporations consistently hold more and more impact on the shape and structure of the world as we see it. They are the large and small organizations that society places their trust in to process the economy. Whether it be a large conglomerate such as Enron, or a one person "mom and pop" shop, society places their trust in these companies and deserves to have this trust upheld.

A company's culture is what determines how the company is operated. A company born of poor ethics in the culture is ultimately at risk for unscrupulous acts. The acts of Enron were probably structure from only a small percentage of its employees, however, due to the company's unethical culture, procedures and policies were allowed that did not facilitate personal ethical behaviors. I believe it is this lack of personal ethics that served as the catalyst to the demise of Enron as a company and the damage that they leave behind.

Who is responsible for a company's ethical culture? I believe the leaders of the organization are responsible for these ethics through there own personal ethics. One might argue that personal ethics do not have a role, provided they are kept separate from the business world. I believe it is impossible to maintain a separation between personal and business ethics. They inevitably intermingle. The issue is then, how to foster a sense of accountability that transcends the workday.

I believe one method of creating a strong sense of personal ethics in all employees, and hence a corporate ethical culture, is through social responsibility. This is done by empowering employees to create and be responsible for their own actions and environment. When employees see a correlation between their actions and direct consequences, they develop pride associated with a job well done and a sense of accountability and responsibility to their jobs.

An example of a company that, through its leadership has a great sense of company ethics and has created a culture of social responsibility is Enterprise, an internationally know rental car company. The company began its operation when its founder, Jack Taylor, worked for a car salesman and was



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