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Communicating Ethical Values in the Workplace

Anton Vdovin - Sep 21, 2017 12:11:31 PM

The practice of communicating organizational values in the workplace is perhaps as old as internal communications itself. The need to inculcate ethical codes of conduct in the workplace has become more urgent after a spate of recent scandals that have exposed the unethical behavior of certain corporate entities.

There was the Volkswagen scandal that hit the German automaker, after it was revealed to have installed software intended to cheat nitrous oxide emission tests in more than 11 million of its diesel cars.

Then there was Toshiba, the Japanese company that used to supply computers but has since shifted to energy distribution. In July 2015 the company was rocked by an accounting scandal that revealed it had inflated net profits by more $1.2 billion over several years.

Corporate communicators should take cue from these recent unfortunate events and incorporate into their internal communication strategy template the re-introduction of their respective firms’ corporate values.

Benefits

Communicating ethical values is not a knee-jerk reaction to the spate of corporate scandals. Incorporating ethical values promotion into an internal communication strategy template can bring about many benefits, like increased sales and profits as customers are likely to buy or avail of products and services from ethical companies. It can also cause employees to remain loyal with the company, reducing labor turnover and improving productivity. And companies can attract more investors, keep their share prices high, thereby reducing the chances of a takeover.

Communicating Ethical Values

Companies that desire to re-communicate their corporate values to their employees have different ways to do so. One would be to provide a summary or copy of the code of conduct to all employees, particularly new hires, so they would be reminded of the core values of the organization.

The core virtues that the organization spouses, such as integrity and loyalty, can be the basis of workplace posters and signage. Corporate communication group can work on the design of posters and digital signage to inculcate to the rest of the employees the importance of each core virtue, particularly in the work place.

The core values can also be displayed in the corporate desktop wallpaper or screensaver. This would remind employees about the virtues they are expected to show while at work, like being reliable and customer-centric.

The internal communication strategy template may also be tweaked a bit in order to increase organizational awareness on the ethical values that the company is espousing. For example, web-based media such as blogs and discussion forums may be opened to encourage further employee discussion on the matter. Videos may also be produced and played on the company Intranet to remind staff of ethical values.

For more substantial discussion on the subject, the internal newsletter may be tapped. The corporate communications team can work out a series of articles focusing on each core value, citing examples in which each virtue can guide employees in the conduct of their work.

It would also be a good idea to let external stakeholders become more familiar about the existence of a code of conduct in the organization. This way, the suppliers, business partners, among others, would know its significance as well as how it can affect their dealings with the company.

Finally, part of the communication of the ethical values is ensuring that employees know how to report suspected breaches of the code of conduct, and the type of support they can expect from management.

Clearly, there’s no need to make major changes in the internal communication strategy template in communicating ethical values that the company espouses to the rest of the organization. What’s more important is to ensure that everyone in the company understands the implications of breaching the code of conduct, not just in their respective careers but its effects on the company’s reputation as well.

Topics: Corporate Communication

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