Evaluating a Business Code of Ethics

Topics: Ethics, Business ethics, Ethical code Pages: 6 (1796 words) Published: May 14, 2013
Evaluating a Business Code of Ethics
Michelle Leonhardt
University of Phoenix
Ethics in Management
Dr. John Rhome

Evaluating a Business Code of Ethics
Businesses in today’s society share a purpose, a vision, that relates philosophy and principles of ethics to better meet the needs of the organization and stakeholders, including customers, employees, shareholders, suppliers, and communities. Without professional ethics, businesses and its programs would not have the ability to be successful. This paper will examine Humana, its business code of ethics, and its mission statement that assists in organizational values and goals of the company. The type of ethical system used by Humana will be explored, along with examples that support this system and its attributes. In addition, how the code of ethics is identified and used within the company will be addressed as it pertains to employees, management, and its board of directors. Upon further evaluation, this paper will explore the need for modification, if any, to their existing code of ethics. Reactions to the code of ethics, its effects of organizational culture on the code of ethics, and its effects on the organization will be defined. Lastly, this paper will provide an analysis of Humana’s business code of ethics and how the analysis exhibits significant key concepts to maintain and promote ethical decision making and business success. Business Code of Ethics and its Mission Statement

Businesses developed codes of ethics starting back in the early 1970s within the United States. Business ethics “is the study of standards of business behavior which promote human welfare and good” (Santa Clara University [SCU], 2011, para. 1). Humana, a company that provides and administers health insurance plans, established its formalized code of ethics in 1995 and since established a 24-hour access to their ethics assistance hotline demonstrating its commitment and accessibility to business ethics (Humana, 2011, para. 1). Humana’s code of ethics was developed as a means of understanding Human’s ethical standards and promoting open communication and the well-being of members as it pertains to these standards. Humana’s code of ethics stresses its mission and vision of the company: “to become the most trusted name in health solutions. To foster a successful environment, Humana’s code of ethics is designed to educate each associate to contribute to the company’s success through ethical behavior and by doing the right thing in the right way for the right reasons” (McCallister & Catron, 2011, p. 1). Defining the purpose of the business’s code of ethics allows for better understanding of ways to promote ethical business behavior. Deontological Ethical System

Ethical systems in business are the “contexts for making decisions in ethics, much like rules in an athletic competition,” giving significance and meaning to the performance and conduct of employees within an organization (Ulrich, 2010, para. 2). Ethical systems can be broken into subcategories depending on its purpose. Humana demonstrates a deontological, also known as a duty-driven ethical system. “Deontological comes from the Greek deon, meaning, duty. Deontologists base their decisions about what’s right on broad, abstract universal ethical principles or values such as honesty, promise keeping, fairness, loyalty, rights, justice, compassion, and respect for persons and property” (Trevino & Nelson, 2007, p. 98). Humana’s business code of ethics lays out its purpose and mission statement and supports these objectives by establishing ethical principles that employees and stakeholders are to follow to ensure compliance, quality, and business success. Within Humana’s business code of ethics, it discusses the key to integrity. The guidelines that are incorporated and integrated into Humana’s ethical code address several key issues that exemplify the business’ duty and obligations to ensure ethical standards are...
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