November 16, 2006
Can Technology Affect Ethics and Culture?
In today's work environment, workers are expected to know more than ever before. With the growing of technology comes more knowledge that end-users must know, so it is important for workers not to be distracted by unethical practices. However, with technology also comes a more defined sense of communication, which can be good or bad. This improved communication can not only encourage unethical behavior, but it can discourage it as well. This paper discusses how technology can encourage and discourage unethical behaviors, it explains how these behaviors can shape the type of work environment that a company promotes, and it identifies how Human Resources (HR) uses technology to influence culture.
Technology can encourage unethical practices in a number of ways. The ways that I describe involve communication of messages and images. Today, the media can reflect some very vulgar and offending messages. Especially via computer, the perpetrator of these messages can offend employees, within their own culture or in another culture, through e-mails, instant messages or unsuspecting software. Imagine being at work, and an e-mail from an unknown address comes in and your curiosity gets the better of you. When you read the e-mail, there is a very offending joke about your ethnic heritage or culture. The e-mail, obviously, was unethical and distracted you from your duties as an employee at your company. The same can be said about instant messages. For example, while your busy at work an instant message comes in and shows a link to a web-site that you happen to be curious about. When you click on the link, an image of pornography appears on the home page. The material offends you because you are happily married, a priest, or just someone with high moral standards. This is another way that technology can encourage unethical behavior and distract you from your job. Although technology can be a distraction through unethical means, it can also hinder unethical practices through policy.
Many companies already have policies that guard against unethical practices, but some companies need to implement new policies or reform their existing one. Many popular practices are used to stop unethical use of the computer. Regularly updated virus protection software can reduce the amount of viruses that your company computer might catch. However, if your virus protector is not updated, it may even slow your computer down (Entech 2003). Always be skeptical when surfing the net, especially when viewing e-mails, because e-mail attachments, free downloads, and other computer enhancements can contain spy-ware which can damage or delete your computer files. If you have Microsoft Windows, you should make sure that you update it monthly because Windows is constantly providing updates for our computers. Finally, make sure that you do not bring any infected software from home, because viruses can be brought from home and transferred on to your computer at work possibly damaging important files. All of these activities can also corrupt or delete customer's data. Having an operating system that is well defined for your companies needs can stop many unethical practices from happening, which can also shape the culture that a company promotes.
Depending on how culturally diverse a company is, ethics can affect a company dramatically. With today's culturally diverse workforce, there are a wide variety of ethical standards to be aware of. If these standards are not considered, many workers or potential workers can be offended. However, if they are met, it becomes easier for a company to meet their goals through the advantages of a diverse workforce. For instance, if a company hires a French employee for an upper management position, the employer might want to know some of his or her work ethics. Depending on how the...