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professional competence blogSelf-responsibility and Management: Would your organization retaliate if you reported unethical behavior? 

Do you know that not all employees give conscious thought to ethics, and they do not always understand what constitutes behavior that is ethical and in alignment with their organization's code of ethics?

Self-responsibility and management are critical skills and a competency needed to maintain a safe and ethical work environment. We all need to focus on the professional competencies needed to succeed in today’s business world.  


According to a 2021 Global Business Ethics Survey by the Ethics & Compliance Initiative, below are 5 Ethics and Compliance Trends: (Ethics.org. 2021.)

  • Globally, 14% of employees reported working in organizations with a strong ethical culture.
  • In 2020, 29% of employees reported pressure to compromise standards.
  • Most common types of observed misconduct included favoritism, management lying to employees and conflicts of interest.
  • In the U.S. and globally, 8 in 10 employees reported misconduct.
  • Retaliation rates have skyrocketed with 79% of U.S. employees and 61% of global employees reporting experiencing retaliation.

The ethics of an organization are the cornerstone of a successful business. In short, behaving ethically is good business. Your corporate ethics impact how you treat employees, suppliers, partners, and clients. Of course, good ethics begins at the top. Leadership plays a significant role in promoting organizational ethics and modeling ethical behavior.

In every business, reputation is a non-tangible yet critical asset, and few things have more of an impact on an organization’s reputation than the ethical behavior of its leaders and employees.

The reputation of any organization is determined by its culture and the conduct of its employees. Reputation drives success or failure, and organizations demonstrate ethics in different ways every day, such as in pricing and service, and in problem solving and interpersonal interactions.

We all know that ethical service is good business. But it is also true that not all employees give enough conscious thought to ethics, and they do not always know what constitutes behavior that is ethical and in alignment with their organization's code of ethics. 

That is why we created our four-course series on ethics to encourage participants to think more deeply about ethics and to relate ethics to their everyday work. The courses also explain the value of applying good ethics throughout all facets of the organization.

CPE 2100, Valuing Ethics and Reputation, challenges professionals to focus on ethics in a way that is guided by their commitment to the values, principles, and ethics of the profession. They learn to recognize that part of excellence is how they perform, but excellence also involves ethics, integrity, and reputation.

CPE 2101, Professional Ethics, explains what ethics are and how ethics are used in solving problems. This course begins with theory but then gives real-world scenarios and step by step guidelines for using ethics in conflict resolution, for better communication, and in ordinary day to day business activities.

CPE 2102, Code of Professional Conduct, helps make ethics real in the workplace. This self-reflection course guides individuals in looking at different aspects of their work and considering how ethics applies directly to what they do.

CPE 2103, The Role of Ethical Code, helps individuals learn to make a habit of ethical behavior, something they can do without thinking, every day. Such habits help us act quickly and appropriately in a variety of situations.

Some organizations might think that having a written code of ethics is enough to guide individual behavior. While it is necessary and a great start, your business reputation comes down to the conduct of those in the organization – how each one behaves, how they model ethical behavior and adhere to the code of ethics. Merely signing a piece of paper that espouses ethics is not enough. The following actions will help you get started.

What To Do: Actions You Can Take Now

  • Recognize and acknowledge examples of ethical dilemmas in your workplace.
  • Be mindful of how using an ethical framework can help you make decisions.
  • Apply ethics in your day-to-day work.

To achieve excellence, ethical behavior must become a habit. People build ethical habits through studying theory and rules, but more importantly, through scenarios and learning that allow for reflection on the value of ethics and the direct application in daily life. 

Read more about it - “The State of Ethics & Compliance in the Workplace: A Look at Global Trends” by the Ethics and Compliance Initiative (ERC. 2021.) at: https://www.ethics.org/global-business-ethics-survey/

How to Learn More

Read About the 35 Competencies Needed to Succeed

For more about information, refer to Dr. Wesley Donahue’s book Building Leadership Competence: A Competency-Based Approach to Building Leadership Ability. 

Try a Free Online Course 

If you’re new to how effective a professional online training course can be, try Centrestar’s free Professional Ethics course. See how convenient online and on demand education can be. Click here to try our free course.

About Dr. Wesley Donahue

Wesley Donahue is President of Centrestar, Inc. a unique training organization that specializes in helping people identify anduse the 35 competencies needed to succeed in any profession. Learn more at www.centrestar.com. 

Wes’s background is in engineering, six-sigma black belt, certified project management, and business ownership. He’s also professor of Management Development and Education at Penn State University where he leads an online graduate program in organization development and change. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. or use our contact form.