Most people will have to deal with issues of ethics at some point in their working lives. They may find themselves being asked to do something they disagree with. Or they might come up against someone in the company who is behaving unethically. Dealing with these issues can be difficult, and knowing what to do is tough. In some cases, you might make a report to your boss or even an outside organization. But there are other times when the unethical behavior might be widely accepted, or you are encouraged to look away. If someone is behaving unethically, what should you do?
Don’t Take Action without Evidence
Before you do anything, you need to make sure you know the facts. You might suspect something, but you can’t go around accusing people of things without evidence. First of all, you need to check that the behavior you suspect is unethical. It might be against industry practices or perhaps company policy. Secondly, you need to know that the person is doing it. You should document the behavior and try to find witnesses to it as well. You will then have evidence you can bring to the person or authority you want to report it to.
Follow Company Procedure
If you can, you should follow company procedure on reporting unethical behavior. You might have had training in dealing with these issues. Or you might have an employee handbook you can look at for advice. If you want to report the behavior of a colleague, you should go to your supervisor. However, if it is your supervisor behaving unethically, you should report to someone above them. If you feel that you aren’t getting anywhere, moving up the hierarchy of your company can be a good idea. However, before escalating, make sure you are clear on company policy.
When the Issue Goes Beyond Being Unethical
Sometimes, the issue might go further than being unethical; it could also be illegal. In these cases, you might need to deal with things differently. Perhaps the people behaving illegally are higher-ups in the company. If you raise the alarm, this is known as whistleblowing. If you decide to take action, it’s a good idea to have legal representation. You can find an attorney specializing in whistleblowers and fraud who can give you the protection you need. Whistleblowing can sometimes be dangerous for your career, so seeking legal help is important.
Consider Going Elsewhere
Occasionally, it might turn out that the job just isn’t for you. The company might not be willing to do anything about unethical behavior. It might just be that the behavior goes against your personal morals. The best thing to do in this situation might be to move on and find another job. If you want to stay with the company, switching departments could also be an option.
It’s not easy to know how to deal with unethical behavior. You might have to confront some heavy issues or deal with difficult people. But if you think it’s worth it, you should consider taking action.
Image credit: The Blue Diamond Gallery