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Lecture

Module 3 Notes.docx


Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHIL215
Professor
Brian Orend

Page:
of 12
Module 3 Notes Codes of Conduct
Code of Conduct/Ethics
Focus of concern surrounding business and professional ethics centres around these codes
of ethics
o What are codes of ethics?
o What is their function?
Examples
Disciplinary mechanisms
John Ladd
Professionalism and conflict of interests
o Our Business Ethics Book Weakness of the chapter is that it just deals with the
business side doesn‟t consider the professions. Rights about codes of ethics as
they appear in business, not the professions
The appearance and importance of codes of ethics in the profession is importantly
different
o A lot of the lecture is focused on what the book doesn‟t talk about : the notion of
professionalism
Are ethic conceived the same or differently in the professions?
Business vs. Professional Codes
It‟s important to distinguish between the codes of ethics found in business and in the
professions
o Profession there‟s looseness to its usage in English. People can use this word
however they want.
o What is a professional? To count as a professional you must have.....
1. Mastered a system of theory
Extensive educational experience
o For example, a doctor, lawyer, nurse, accountant all have a
long educational process to become professionals at what
they do
2. Process of education culminates in a series of licensing exams
Process includes an ethics exam
Competency exams
o Doctor Board certified
o Lawyer the Bar exam
Licensing exams must be passed before one gains entry into the
profession
3. Each of the professions has a distinctive culture
Ex: Lawyers are argumentative; all have gray hair, etc. Doctors
have crazy working hours, etc.
4. Professionals are recognized by the community as having authority in a
certain field of expertise that everyone else lacks
o Business Ethics = ethics as it applies to everyone else.
o Codes of Ethics are taken much more seriously and have a lot more weight and
import in the professions than they do in business.
Codes of Ethics in Business
o Two Kinds of Business Conduct
1. Intra-Business Code
A code that applies to one company
o For example Canadian Tire Code: just applies to the
employees of Canadian Tire
2. Inter-Business Code
Applies to everyone in a given industry
o For example Natural resource extraction so in the oil
industry, the forestry industry, the pulp and paper industry
o How common are these codes of ethics?
Extremely prevalent amongst public corporations
1999 survey by KPMG
o Out of all the 300 companies listed on the TSX, KPMG suggest
that between 75% and 80% of those companies had codes of
ethics
o Approximately 75% of the executives that responded claimed
that they adopted a code of ethics to improve their corporate
image.
Are codes of ethics simply another marketing strategy for companies
The Difference Between Public and Private Companies
o The Three sectors of Economy
Public sector
Government
Civil service
MUSH sector
Mixture of for profit and not for profit motivation
Municipality, University, School, Hospitals (and all the other non-
for-profit do gooders)
Private sector
Business for profit motivation
When we talk about corporate codes of conduct we are just talking about the for profit
sector.
o The fundamental distinction for the profit sector is between public and private
There is a distinction between who can own shares in those companies
Public corporation means that the shares of that company can be
bought by members of the public
Private company means share cannot be sold to the public
o Often these companies are family run affairs
o The majority of private companies are small businesses
(fewer than 150 employees)
KPMG survey is referring to public corporations publically listed
companies whose shares are publically traded. Not necessarily the most
profitable but do receive the most attention
What is the function of this code of ethics?
A code of ethics is essentially deontological in structure and motivation
o The whole idea behind a code of ethics is to set out a general set or rules or
directives that are to guide employee behaviour
How you should behave on company time
How you should spend company money
How you should interact with customer or suppliers
o If the rules aren‟t followed there is some type of disciplinary action
Certain results are being sought after by having a code of conduct
o Cynical interpretation improvement in the company‟s reputation
o Generous interpretation improve the behaviour of the employees
The Common Elements of Code of Ethics
Common Elements that are shared by all:
1. Have to obey all the relevant laws that apply
2. Integrity
o “You‟re conduct cannot bring disgrace upon this business or profession
3. Norm of competence
o It‟s an ethical duty to maintain profession knowledge and keep it updated – you
owe it to your clients/patient/etc.
4. Norm of honesty and full disclosure
o Richard Nixon “It‟s not the deed that gets you, it‟s the lie afterwards.”
5. Norm of confidentiality and trustworthiness
6. Norm of professionalism towards colleagues
7. Duty towards the public good
o This applies to Professional Codes only
o For example, doctors have the Hippocratic oath, lawyers have justice, accountants
have the reliability of accounting statements
8. Duty to help mentor future members of the profession
o This applies to Professional Codes only
9. Norm of loyalty to the company or industry
o This applies only to Business codes
10. Provision for some kind of disciplinary mechanism
o As an employee or a professional, if you violate some principle in the code of
ethics you will face some kind of disciplinary mechanism
Examples of Real Codes of Conduct/Ethics
E.g. National Society of Professional Engineers Code of Ethics
1. Preamble Engineering is an important and learned profession. As members of
this profession, engineers are expected to... The services proved by engineers
require honesty, fairness...
2. See below for the “Fundamental Canons” for engineers