ethics book

Human Values and Ethics in the Workplace is published by GP Martin. Paperback, 317 pages. Revised edition released July 2010.

ISBN 978-9804045-0-0

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About the book

Human Values and Ethics in the Workplace

Ethics can be a difficult issue for executives and for employees in business organisations. This was demonstrated with the collapse of major Australian corporations HIH and One.Tel in 2001. It was clear very soon that ethical failings were a major cause of the collapses. Later, we learned about the ethical dilemmas that employees had faced during their employers' descent into oblivion.

How can workers and managers – those who are not the all-powerful leaders – approach these ethical concerns in a constructive way, for the sake of their own integrity and in order to foster a healthier business environment? Without answers to this question, people working in organisations have little defence against the insatiable demands of ambitious executives and the pressures of “the bottom line”.

Human values and ethics in the workplace considers ethics through the lens of a five-dimensional model of the person, rather than through the arguments of moral philosophy. The book describes the five dimensions as cognitive reasoning, emotions, the valuing process (our sense of right and wrong), energy/spirit, and identity (psyche, meaning). Each dimension is associated with a corresponding value. This approach gives us a core set of five human values:

Using this framework, the book explores how people’s values reflect the view they have of the world. Different preceptions of ethics are linked to different world views. The book explores the spectrum of behaviour we see in people and organisations, with examples like James Hardie's treatment of asbestos sufferers, through to more exalted examples.

The book also explores the possibilities for change. What does it take for individuals and organisations to expand their world view and become upright, courageous and compassionate, while maintaining their business acumen?

These concepts are then applied to the daily life of workers and managers. How do you make decisions ethically? How do you become aware of and influence the organisation’s culture and practices? How do you work with integrity in an organisation? How do you improve your own ethical conduct? What does leadership look like under this model?

Seeing how our personal values can evolve enables us to see that ethical behaviour shifts from compliance towards higher aspirations. These are points along a spectrum. Working ethically in an organisation, whether as a manager or a worker, takes us on a journey from adherence to rules towards high-quality relationships, and finally to insight and the development of personal identity.

That same journey is available to organisations themselves. This is an issue that urgently needs to be heard in Australia, and it is a message that, in a global economy, is universal.

See a sample of the book, and read the Introduction (pdf file).

See the Table of Contents.

Read what people have had to say about the book: Comments.

Read the media release for the book.