Ethics in Human Resource Management

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Ethics is the study of what is good and evil, right and wrong and just and unjust. Business ethics therefore is the study of good and evil, right and wrong, and just and unjust actions in Business. (George F. Steiner and John F. Steiner, Business Government and Society (2000). Ethics is a conception of right and wrong conduct. It tells us whether our behavior is moral or immoral and deals with fundamental human relationships – how we want them to think and behave towards others and how we want them to think and behave towards us. Ethical principles are guides to moral behaviour. For example, in most societies lying, stealing, deceiving and harming others are considered to be unethical and immoral. Honesty, keeping promise, helping others and respecting the rights of others are considered to be ethically and morally desirable behavior. Ethics come from a Greek word ‘Ethika’ which means ‘character’ or ‘custom’ and relates to the principles or standards of human conduct, sometimes referred to as morals(Latin Mores, custom) Ethics on the other hand is a standard for judging right from wrong as against what is easy, comfortable and self serving. Ethics is also about reasoning, intuition and self monitoring. (‘Ethics office in South Africa’) Business ethics is a form of applied ethics that scrutinizes ethical principle and moral or ethical problems that occur in a business environment. In the more conscientious market places of the 21st century, the demand for more ethical business processes and actions (referred to as ethicism) is mounting. Also pressures for the application of business ethics are exerted through enactment of new public initiative and laws. (Freeman Osei-Tete C.S.R issues and cases 2011) Not all ethics issues in business operations are highly specialized, ethics issues can appear in any of major functional area. Ethics tend to have its own particular brand of ethical dilemmas. There are various ethics in business. Among some of these include, Ethics in Human Resource Management, Ethics in Sales and Advertising, Ethics in Gift and Bribes, etc.

Human Resources Management is one the ethics of business; therefore Human Resource Management is defined as the process of acquiring and developing skilled employees and creating organizational condition which encourage them to put forth their best effort. Mathis and Jackson (1996)

Ethical issues that may arise in the employment relationship, including the ethics of discrimination, and employees’ rights and duties are commonly seen in the business ethics texts. While some argue that there are certain inalienable rights of workplace such as a right to work, a right to privacy, a right to be paid in accordance with comparable worth, a right not be the victim of discrimination, others claim that these right are negotiable. Ethical discourse in Human Resources Management often reduces the ethical behaviour of firms as if they were charity from the firms rather than rights of employees. Except in the occupations, where market conditions overwhelmingly favour employees, employees are treated disposable and expendable and thus they are defenselessly corned to extreme vulnerability.

Further more, the expendability of employees, however, is justified in the texts of business morality on the ground the ethical position against such expendability should be sacrificed for greater merit in a free market system. It is argued since both employees and employers do in fact possess economic power in the free market, it would be unethical if governments or labour unions impose employment terms on the labour relationship. There are discussions of ethics employment management individual practices, issues like policies and practices of Human Resources Management, the roles of human resource practitioners, the decline of trade unionism, issues of globalizing the labour and so on, in the recent human resource management literature, though they do...
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