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Morals and Ethics in the Workplace

Updated on May 10, 2012

Dealing with different people, culture, and diversity

Today we live in a very fast-paced world. You have heard the famous phrase, "time is money", and because of so many competition doing the same or similar tasks a particular company can do, a lot of people today work in a tough environment, full of stress and extreme pressure, so that what they produce can be achieved both in an efficient way and in the less time possible.

In most of today's workplaces, time and money means everything. Some companies claim being family-friendly and offer many benefits which take into consideration life outside work, but even when a few companies have been acknowledged in this matter, the truth is that a vast number of companies do not really care about the employee's welfare and only mind on the money they can make out of production. Executives expect so much from an employee, including overtime, weekend and holiday work, and extensive and long periods of travel, because the main interest is not the welfare of the employee, but the earnings they can make from all of the work that can be done.

A few days ago I was helping a friend of mine who was working in a project on a college class which treated this topic so I would like to share some of the observations I made to her, which also includes personal experience that you can learn from in the future.

Today, employees come from a diversity of cultures, lifestyles, religions and views. Homosexuals, married, singles, celibates, Muslims, Christians, atheists, Blacks, Whites, Asian, natives, European Caucasian, Hispanics, Democrats, Republicans, socialists, communists, capitalists, and so forth- people have different mindsets and views which, due to our human nature of "curiosity" or "fear" of what is strange for each one of us, create difficulties and problems in the workplace.

Depending on a person's culture, or the way he or she was raised, the person may have the view that work is the most important aspect of life. That means that for such person, work goes beyond family, love, children, religion, culture and health, among others. Although it is hard to understand why many people think this way, which most of us may consider is not right, sometimes people who think this way are precisely people who are in the highest spheres of a company- a CEO, a Vice-President, a boss, and when a person with a different view is appointed to work for a boss who thinks this way, problems may arise. But since the boss is over him, in order to keep the job and not face problems, he simply has to obey.

Let's now say that an Adventist is appointed to work on Saturday. Adventists don't do anything on Saturdays, but his boss is an atheist with the mindset exposed above (just an example, you can also say an Evangelical, a Muslim, a Catholic). Most workplaces are federally prohibited to take action against an employee because of religion. Of course, many companies specify possible work on weekends and other times other than normal weekdays, but let's say this company was not clear in this issue. The Adventist tells his boss he will not do any work on Saturday because of his religion. The boss is intelligent enough to know he can't take action against the employee because he could face a serious lawsuit, but if he is a tough boss and does not like to be "disobeyed" at work, he will seek other ways to make the employee's life miserable. If the employee has team mates, the boss will probably make a poorer performance evaluation to the employee in comparison of his coworkers; he will begin to seek the slightest mistakes and make them big and serious; he will probably create a false testimony such that the employee cannot accuse him of religious harassment, and if the boss is smart enough, so that he can't be found to be doing unethical or even illegal actions against the employee, he will succeed in making the employee quit or fire him. This goes also with gays, handicapped, Muslims, Christians, singles, and other people who are bullied in the workplace.

You have to understand that there are evil people in the world, and sometimes evil people are in charge, are given authority, and are very smart, they know what is legal and what is not legal. An evil boss is not going to fire you because you are gay, from a particular religion, single, married, handicapped, White or Black. Of course he is not going to be that obvious. He will look into "legal" ways to try to intimidate you and make you quit. Unfortunately, evil people, because of being evil, can do what you can't imagine, from "modifying" a very well done work you did into something with lots of mistakes, to accuse you of something you did not do, like a form of harassment or stalking. You may be the best employee with the strictest discipline but if a boss does not like you, you have to prepare yourself to be very smart and know what to do to avoid being abused by your employer.

The so called EEO-Affirmative Action clause is just a paper which employers have to follow, but humans are very capable into scamming something and will try to damage you if you are not liked by the employer even if such dislike comes from a specific prejudice prohibited by federal law.

There is a general perception that people who work in the most prestigious companies are all professionals and are incapable of doing something that is unethical, but that does not have to be true. You have heard of many companies who have been found of fraud, scam and corruption which ends up with the CEO's and administrative leaders behind bars. The attempt of making millions and millions at whatever cost is the main ingredient to a company's demise, and like I mentioned at the beginning, such attempts affect not only the company but also those who work in it.

The general work time goes from 7am to 5pm. People work from eight to ten hours; they spend eight to ten hours doing different tasks that require both mental and physical effort. Such effort generally extenuates the employee, and energy is depleted- the employee needs a rest from work from time to time. We have to understand that all people have a life outside of work and sometimes problems abound outside of work life. Family issues, debts, health problems and other things affect people, and they require attention. If a person uses all the energy he or she has for work, then what about these things?

1. Too much work increases chances of divorce and break-ups

If you are a married person, and especially if you have children, your family is priority. And you don't have a family only to provide them with the best. You ought to share time with them, so they can grow healthy. Unfortunately, as stated before, many companies don't care about employee's personal lives. The only thing they care is the money the company does. Extensive travel and too much overtime reduces the time a person shares with the family, creating an even harder time for the employee because the family resents the absence and may end up in a separation.

2. Too much work means more time of stress

Many companies don't seem to understand that reducing the employee's energy because of so much work also affects health. A person's appetite may decrease or increase, developing lots of problems that may end up in developments of terminal sickness and heart collapse. Stress reduces life.

3. Too much work generates depression and constant criticizing increasing bitterness and sense of dissatisfaction

Nobody gets enthusiastic at work when the boss or coworkers keeps focusing on the negative things the employee does. When an employee does not do a good work, the attitude at the beginning should be one of help and assistance, not one of criticizing and making him feel like a mediocre or incapable person. Most jobs people have, they find it after a process which involves application, screening, and interview. They have the potential to do a good work if they are hired.

The world we live in would be a much better place if the workplaces (all companies, agencies and job sites) make it possible for all people who work to a have a good and healthy balance between life at the work and life outside work. The so famous "work hard" is sometimes confused with "sacrifice your life at work".

And just as important as this is that we learn to understand people are different. A person's prerogative to work, work and work does not have to mean all people have to share such mindset. If you are single or celibate and you love spending time at work and you don't have much to do at free time such that you keep on working, great. But don't think all unmarried people have the same mindset. People have to be productive, but being productive does not mean being workaholic. A person may have a different way of working because of what he learns from his culture. That person cannot force such culture into someone who does not share it. It is important that where there is diversity, a standard is followed such that people just focuses at work on a specific time period, taking into account that work is not everything in this world. People need to rest to recover the energy required to do a good work. We would not be in constant "fixing" at work if we were allowed for more time, and competition is not a good excuse because who knows if the product developed by a company which takes more time ends up being of superior quality, precisely because doing it too fast gives a lot of room to mistakes that will require the time that was not given in the first time to fix them.


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