Values and Ethics in the Workplace Values Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Values and Ethics

in the Workplace

Values and Ethics in the Workplace

Values and ethics in the workplace can be extremely different among various jobs, careers, companies and organizations, ages, races, and ethnic groups, cultures and parts of the world, office environments, and the individual employees themselves. For example, a secretary in the administrative office of a Catholic church, a poor and illiterate factory worker in India, and a stockbroker who works as a managing partner in a prestigious firm would all hold different and maybe even opposing morals. The secretary would probably be opposed to working on a Sunday so that she had the time to attend church, while the stockbroker would feel compelled to work even on Sunday so that he did not feel lazy and unmotivated, and the factory worker would not have the option of making such a decision as he would have to work every available hour that he could to try and make enough to buy food and avoid starvation.

As a woman in my mid-thirties, working as a legal secretary in a mid-level criminal defense firm, I have the option of formulating and adhering to my own values and ethics based on my internal standards and core beliefs, my past experiences, my vision for my future, my sense of honor, virtue, and fidelity, my expectations of others, and my priorities and goals. There are many different ethical theories that can be used to describe the process that an individual goes through when she is contemplating his personal value system, among them Consequentialism, Deontology, Social Contract Theory, and Human Nature Ethics. I will use these ethical theories to analyze my own ethical practices and value system in my
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work as a legal secretary, with a situational example of my thought processes and behaviors.

It is against office policy to use the fax and copy machines for anything other than work-related reasons. I hold an administrative position within the secretarial bureau in the corporate structure of my workplace, which allows me to have knowledge of all operating codes for our office equipment. I was recently approached by a young file clerk for an access code to the fax machine. She needed to fax medical release forms to her mother's insurance company, a reason that is obviously not related to work. After momentary hesitation, I provided her with the access codes so that she could fax the documents.

This act fit into my personal value system for several reasons. Using the moral theory of Consequentialism, which holds that the consequence of an action is the true measure of its morality (Darwall, 2002), I am able to justify that giving out the access code in this situation was not in any way unethical because there were no negative consequences to consider in my decision. The worst thing that would have happened if we had been caught by management using the fax machine for personal reasons would be a verbal warning, a consequence that holds no serious threat. There was, in fact, a positive consequence, because if my co-worker had failed to fax the medical release forms in a timely manner, her mother's insurance company would have denied a costly and complicated claim, and the young girl had no other means to fax these forms.

Deontology is a theory of morality that defines morality using rules and laws as a measure. The expectations of a deontological argument would be that giving the access code to the file clerk broke a strict company rule…

Sources Used in Documents:


Darwall, Stephen. (2002) Consequentialism. Oxford: Blackwell.

Loptson, Peter. (2006) Theories of Human Nature. Peterborough, ON: Broadview.

Orend, Brian. (2000) War and International Justice: A Kantian Perspective. West Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (October 15, 2004) Social Contract Theory. Retrieved on April 23, 2011 from http://www.

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