Ethics Training

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Ethics training can be viewed in two very different, frequently conflicting ways-as authoritarian dogmatic "indoctrination" about right and wrong, moral and immoral, good and evil, or, as training to think reflectively and independently about ethics-about these ethical concepts, ethical conflicts and challenges, and ethical principles and behavior.

Realistically, an effective ethics training program should fall somewhere between these two extremes-ideally, as both a presentation and promotion of recognized, endorsed professional values and as a reflective rationale for them.

Because training is enhanced by insight and role-modeling, a professional ethics program should, from the standpoint of maximizing the likelihood of succeeding, utilize both as tools. Rather than present rules to be regurgitated, rote recited and enforced through regimentation, ethics training should provide rationales for the rules and the ethical principles that underlie them. Otherwise, ethics training will more closely resemble boot camp "ethics drills" than an effort to foster ethical behavior through ethical awareness and understanding.

Ethics training is more than teaching individuals the difference between right and wrong. It is taking those differences and applying them to situations that one may encounter in his or her own line of work. It teaches how to recognize ethical dilemmas and how to reason through them to make ethical decisions.

Once an organization has adopted a code of ethics, all employees should attend training that helps them apply the code to their particular jobs. Mangers should make sure that all employees receive their training. Human resources departments should make the training available at a variety of times and locations so that all employees may participate.

This training is important because it gives employees a clear view of the law, the organization's code of ethics and how they interface-including collisions as well as congruence. It further defines what is meant by ethical behavior. Some people may not have any bad intentions, but if they do not understand what ethical behavior is, they may inadvertently do something that would be considered unethical. Also, if everyone has a clear understanding of what is acceptable and unacceptable, they can be held accountable. Cultivating ethical behavior through training can save the organization money by preventing legal actions against them.

Ethics training can be conducted by members of the organization, or an outside firm can be hired. Some businesses that offer training are Character Training International, Global Compliance, and 360Training. Material can be delivered as handbooks, documents, videos, live presentations, or online. An organization can choose the firm and the format that fits best.
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