Ethics programs are meant to assist in ensuring that the moral climate of a group is, and remains, strong.

An ethics program has many  features, contains many parts, and ought to include things such as a go to person, a Code of Ethics, an active ethics education plan, a process for raising ethical concerns, and a moral repair process.

The specification of ethics programs is a group contextually sensitive process.  They are developed after determining the state of the moral culture of the group.

The go to person

This is someone who all know to be the person to go to for advice and action, over an ethics dispute, for education, and for restoring the moral climate in the group.  I call this person the Ethics Officer; see here for more.

Code of Ethics

It seems that all groups of any significance have a code of some sort.  Some have a code of ethics, others codes of conduct, codes of behaviour.  For a discussion of these codes their differences and their place in the grand scheme of things see here.  I can assist in both the development and evaluation of codes as part of an ethics culture assessment.

Ethics Education Plan

An ethics education plan consists in planned and scheduled workshops and seminars for:

  • moral literacy
    • assessment and
    • improvement
  • cultural 

    • assessment and
    • improvement
  • case study rehearsal.
  • Awareness seminars for Raising Ethical Concerns

Raising Ethical Concerns Process

The prevailing wisdom for raising ethical concerns is for the concerned person to:

  1. Speak with the offender. If that does not resolve the issue:
  2. Call the ethics helpline. If that does not resolve the issue:
  3. Speak with their own boss.  If that does not resolve the issue:
  4. Go higher and higher until you get to the top. If that does not resolve the issue:
  5. Become a whistleblower.

Of course the concerned person may terminate the process at any point when they think/feel that it wasn’t serious enough to go further.

The truth is that this almost never happens.  Most of the time the concerned person will talk it over with others in the group to get a consensus of the event and what to do about it.  This leads to the concerned person just dropping it and becoming increasingly sceptical about the morality of the culture in the group. When asked why they did not use the official process they say “I wouldn’t make any difference.”

In principle there is nothing wrong with the above process so long as every member of the group believes that it will result in a fair outcome. Mostly they don’t.

Moral Repair

This is the process or making good again the interpersonal relationships within a group. Go to here for the details.