“Ethical climates refer to those in which ethical standards and norms have been consistently, clearly, and persuasively communicated throughout the organization and embraced and enforced by organizational leaders in both word and example” (Hughes et al, 2015, p 173).
As an individual who has consistently jumped from job to job, the longest one lasting a year, I can testify to how important it is to not only understand how to read the ethical climate of an organization, but have an understanding of your own code of ethics so that the two can match up. Although I have left my position at different organizations for a multitude of reasons, I left my last job because of ethical differences between the organization (i.e the leader) and myself. I started out at the organization, interviewing with the office manager of the law office. The individual I interviewed with portrayed the business one way and because of her personality and the way she behaved I believed this to be true. Once I started completing more of my work for the owner of the business, I learned the true ethical climate of the organization. The couple of weeks it took me to learn that the office manager’s words did not match the leader’s actions where some of the most frustrating for me. The leader of the company is the example in which everyone in the organization will base their own behavior (PSU, n.d).
I grew up with a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong because of my parents and my education. My parents taught me that each individual, no matter what walk of life, deserve to be treated with respect and you should always make that individual feel as if they matter and are important. I respect my elders and I mind my manners. I would like to think that my behavior matches these lessons that I have learned.
Since pursuing my degree in psychology and now my Master’s and hopefully one day my doctorate, I am also an individual that likes to find the motivation behind a certain behavior an individual might possess: why someone might accept a certain treatment and at the same time why one treats others a certain way. When there is a disconnect between words and actions, it is important to find the why. The boss I was talking about earlier was one of those people. His words said one thing, but his actions said another and he was fostering an unethical climate in his business. The face value of his company said “Come in, we will help you get back on your feet”, where the actual culture of the company was “I won’t do this for you if you don’t have the money to provide me because I don’t care if you don’t have a home to go back to”. When interviewing with the company I was sold the pitch that we help individuals who cannot help themselves, and I appreciated that in a company. My boss proved to approach his moral conduct through ethical egoism: “a person should act as to create the greatest good for her or himself” (Northouse, 2016, p 334). As the leader of the organization he had influence on every individual that walked in his door, whether it be a client or an employee he had an impact on their life (Northouse, 2016). For many people, that impact was negative.
Looking at Victor and Cullen’s Ethical climates, I can now assess the situation I worked at simply. My boss approached ethical situations through egoism, so he looked at self-interest, company profit and efficiency (PSU, n.d). The thing with approaching a business this way is that it leaves individuals who prefer benevolence or principle view to leave creating a high turnover rate of employees. Once my boss finds individuals who are willing to work for him, and stand by his actions no matter what the business he is creating will not be one of a high ethical climate, and one day will hopefully fail because of that.
Burns perspective says that a leader will help followers “asses their values and needs in order to raise them to a higher level of functioning” and in a some way my boss did exactly that (Northouse, 2016). I weighed the pros and cons of leaving a job with no back up and decided to leave because I was unable to go into work and feel good about myself when I left because of what the company stood for.