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Ensuring ethics don’t slip

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in Leaders & Managers

Imagine you’re faced with a choice: Either tell the truth and potentially damage your company, or hide the evidence and hope for the best.

It’s a choice employees are occasionally faced with, from tobacco company executives in the 1950s to an Arthur Andersen auditor working at Enron in 2000.

Most people who make the right, ethical choice don’t do it alone. They have an organization behind them that makes it easier to tell the truth.

One example: Toyota. The company expects all employees to know the ramifications of collective action. They expect employees to bring “consciousness” to work. You see it, for example, in the use of the andon cord—the cord that any employee can pull to stop the assembly line if there’s a problem. Toyota expects each person to look at vehicles going by and draw his or her own conclusions.

Bottom line:
When employees see how their actions affect the company’s performance, you’re more likely to see ethical behavior.

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