John Roberts from the University of Cambridge shows that the public’s mistrust of corporate ethics is not a given. It exists because many businesses are perceived to only pay lip service to corporate responsibility. Roberts writes:
“Corporate policy is now no longer purely an external presentation of corporate good appearances managed by a few. Instead, new disciplinary regimes within and beyond the firm seek to make a different or wider range of relevances play upon the minds of people at every level of the corporate hierarchy.”
Social scientists work with businesses to first establish existing patterns of ethical attitudes and then we work to positively impact ethical behaviour.
We do this through research such as surveys and interviews with all management and staff. In particular, we establish the types of employees vulnerable to ethics abuse, either by not being adequately protected or educated about their rights and responsibilities.
We then put in place a plan for ethical change.
This includes redesigning corporate policy, establishing internal controls as well as rewards and incentives. This approach aims to make all members of an organisation active participants in ethical behaviour.
Read Roberts’ research.
Over to you!
Are you wondering how ethics might apply to your business? Can you see how social science might help you improve your understandings of ethical issues in the workplace?
Post your questions in the comments section below!