Building an Ethical Organization

You will have to make clear to everyone in your organization that moral priorities are as important as financial priorities. Everyone in the organization will understand that finances are critical to survival, and so no one is likely to make the case that ethics should trump every other consideration. But an ethical culture starts with holding moral values at least as high as financial concerns.

This will mean that you will need to establish a history of making ethical choices. Think about the people you admire; what most probably come to mind are the important decisions that that person has made over time. Ethical organizations have staff who are committed to, and who admire, their organization because of the visible commitment, over time, that is captured in the history of moral choices that the leaders of the organization make. Building that history will take time, but it is the most powerful way to establish an ethical organizational culture.

Of course, you will also need to set out the ground rules for how you want people to operate and how you want them to make the decisions assigned to them. You will need to have ethics rules and standards of ethical behavior. You will need a policy document that makes clear the values of the organization and that can grow as you discover more about the ethical issues that your organization faces.

Many organizations today are offering, or requiring, ethics training. The research results are inconclusive at this time as to whether this works and, if so, to what end. But it does highlight the leadership’s commitment to making moral choices, and makes it less likely that employees who violate standards can say, “Oh, I didn’t realize that that was unacceptable.” But don’t assume that your organization is ethical because all of your employees have passed an ethics test.

For decades, health care organizations have made good use of “ethical consults.” They will usually have ethics “officers” who are available to answer questions and to help decision makers think through complex situations. Often, they will have an ethics council to review certain kinds of decisions before they are made, or other kinds of decisions after they are made. Having some kind of in-house consultation or, in the case of a smaller organization, on-going access to such help, will emphasize leadership’s commitment, and will, if done properly, create coherence within the organization’s ethical culture.

As kids, we all were told by our friends that we shouldn’t “tell on each other.” But an ethical organization, by necessity, has to be a mature organization, which faces its tough choices, rather than avoids them. Consequently, you will probably want to institute some kind of reporting system so that your staff will have someplace to go in order to report, with varying degrees of confidentiality, mistakes or missteps that they observe. Understanding the various problems that such a process identifies and the actions you take in response will contribute to the growth in the ethical culture that we have emphasized above.

At the highest level of commitment to moral decision making is a “Values Identification Audit” (VIDA), a coordinated and thorough planning process wherein the organization identifies its values and seeks to anticipate the difficult decisions that it will confront. This could be done when you review your “aspirational statements,” like your Mission and your Vision. (If you don’t have those statements, or if you haven’t revisited them recently, then that would be the logical first place from which to start this process.)

A VIDA starts with a Statement of Values. Here is ours at the UIC School of Public Health:

SPH Statement of Values

We are a community of scholars, students and staff dedicated to creating a healthy society. In achieving this goal, we are committed to:

  • COMMUNITY, the basic unit of analysis for public health, enabling communities to address their own problems, share skills, lower barriers to action, and act as a catalyst for progress.
  • KNOWLEDGE, the pursuit, development and dissemination of which will improve the health of the public.
  • PROFESSIONALISM, acting with integrity and collegiality in learning, teaching, research and public service.
  • STEWARDSHIP, of natural, human and financial resources.
  • IDEALISM, whether secularly or spiritually motivated.
  • CARING, promoting compassion for and action on behalf of others.
  • JUSTICE, whereby everyone is given access to the resources necessary to live a humane life and necessary to fulfill his or her full potential.
  • DIVERSITY, celebrating unique contributions to the fabric of our community.
  • RESPECT, for the members of this community and for those whom our efforts are intended to serve.
  • HUMILITY, as we set our goals, as we work together to achieve them, and as we address the inevitable conflicts produced by those joint efforts.

The American Medical Association has a much smaller list:

Core Values

  1. Leadership
  2. Excellence
  3. Integrity and Ethical Behavior

The Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce has a more elaborate statement:

What are the ideals that guide how we accomplish our mission?

Relationship Management

  • Adaptability
  • Collaboration
  • Diversity
  • Honesty
  • Inclusion
  • Integrity
  • Openness
  • Respect worth of individuals
  • Team Results
  • Tolerance

Results Oriented

  • Advocate for continuous improvement
  • Attack goals with vigorous pursuit
  • Efficiency
  • Innovation
  • Member driven
  • Productivity
  • Well-defined goals

High Ethical Standards

  • Accountability
  • Do things right / Do the right things
  • Positive leadership
  • Responsibility

Knowledge of Chamber Business

  • Entrepreneurial
  • Relevant subject matter experts
  • Technology proficient

But you really need to go beyond, what a colleague of mine calls, “a statement of easy virtues.” The ethical success of your organization will be determined by the decisions that you and your staff make over time. At this early stage, while you are doing the VIDA, you should try to anticipate the tough conflicts that you are likely to face. No one knows for sure what they will do in any novel situation until that situation is real. But a lot can be gained in thinking through some of this ahead of time, and then committing to a continuous re-examination of one’s Statement of Values and Anticipated Conflicts.

Social Empowerment of Women

The indicators of social empowerment of women include the base of gender inequality, sex ratios, life expectancy rates and fertility rates which shows the general status of women in terms of literacy, economic growth, availability of health care and birth control facilities, educational status of women, age at marriage, literacy rates and participation of women outside the home. Gender inequality is a worldwide phenomenon and leaving aside some Nordic nations, gender inequality base reflects very poorly for almost all major countries in the world. Sex ratio is against women in Asia and even though life expectancy has gone up around the world including in Asia it has not improved the overall status of women in much of the world. Same is the case with fertility rates which have declined in some regions including Asia but the positive impact of this change on women around the world is not as much as that was desired. Glaring gender gap exists in terms of literacy rates though it is narrowing across Asia. The figures for female literacy rates are not at all encouraging in the developing world. Now let’s focus on various issues that are closely associated with the social empowerment of women.

Social empowerment of women: Ending violence against women

Violence against women is a real fact and we need to acknowledge the real tragedy behind this crime. It totally shatters the women from the core psychologically as well as physically. It is time that community development and feminist values are made an integral aspect of empowerment of women. Women need to be educated and made aware of their rights and they should be encouraged to stand united against the biased and discriminating social environment which directly and indirectly affects their psychological and physical self. Education and awareness would be a big step towards the fight against gender based violence. Only through education and awareness we can connect with the vast majority of women living in various parts of the world and prevent them from falling pray to the numerous forms of possible violence in their life. We have to accept the fact that women are constantly under the threat of violence from various sides. The oppressive structures of the society need to be changed and oppression of women need to be stopped but it won’t happen through some quick fix solutions. The change can be only possible through social empowerment of women at the grass root level with education and awareness.

Social empowerment of women: Issues related to social empowerment of women

When we talk of social empowerment of women then we are actually addressing various issues which might be applicable to different parts of the world for improving the overall status of women. Among them the prominent issues relate to education for women, health for women, nutrition for women, drinking water and sanitation for women and their family, housing and shelter for women and their family, environment and the connection with women, participation of women in the field of science and technology, care for women under difficult circumstances, fighting the violence against women and rights of the girl child.

Social empowerment of women: Education for women

We need to accept the fact that gender inequality and discrimination has been the norm of the society and in this regard it touches all aspects of the life of women. Education and training for women is one of the major goals of social empowerment of women which need to be universally made applicable to all parts of the world. This will definitely enhance the awareness in women which in turn will increase her confidence. A confident and well aware woman would be able to tackle inequality and discrimination in a far better way than an ill-equipped and ill-trained woman. But on the other hand we have to accept the fact that women and girls never had equal access to education as men and boys have. Illiteracy is the highest among the female of the population. Women are far behind in terms of having gainful occupation or vocation because of lack of skills and education. There is an enormous gender gap in secondary and higher education. Moreover religious and caste equations have made things worse in many parts of the world. The work has to start at the grass root levels. The educational systems need to be made more accessible to women at grass root levels and they need to be revamped to include gender sensitive educational system which prevents sex stereotyping and discrimination. Social organizations can play a major role in universalizing education at the basic ground level. This can be achieved through increasing the enrollment and retention rates of girl child in the primary schools and offering quality education and skills to them so that they can stand up on their feet and live a dignified life.

Social empowerment of women: Healthcare for women

Coming to the health of women we need to understand that women are facing very difficult times at all stages of their life cycle. It is sad to note that a section of our society is highly prejudiced against the girl child and in fact can be labelled as criminals of the highest order as they practice the heinous crime of female feticide. Then we have the problem of high infant mortality and maternal mortality and one of the major reasons for this being the early child marriages. Quality health care for women is not available in many parts of the world. Women’s right to informed choice regarding her reproductive rights is another area which needs attention. Talking of reproductive rights women even don’t have affordable choice of family planning methods. Education and awareness in this regard is nonexistent and absent. Women are vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases and other endemic, infectious and communicable diseases. HIV/AIDS is another major problem. Women’s traditional knowledge of health care and nutrition, alternative systems of medicine are actually underutilised and not recognized. It is necessary to recognize these alternative systems and integrate them with the main stream health care systems to make it work in tandem. This shall help in providing reasonable and quality health care for women.

Social empowerment of women: Nutrition, drinking water, sanitation and housing

For women, from the stage of infancy and childhood to the stage of adolescent and reproductive phase the risk of malnutrition is the highest. There is a close link between the health of an adolescent girl who becomes a pregnant and lactating woman latter and the health of the infant child. Macro and micro nutrients are needed for these special conditions but they are not available to the vast majority of women. In house the women and girl child face great discrimination as regards to good nutritious food. This happens in the early growth period of a child as well as to a pregnant and lactating woman. Other major issues are drinking water and sanitation especially in rural areas and urban slums. Housing and shelter are also area of attention including adequate and safe accommodation for single women, heads of the households, working women, students, apprentices and trainees. These are very real issues of the very real world that we live in. Without addressing these basic needs we cannot think about any meaningful step towards social empowerment of women.

Social empowerment of women: Women and environment conservation

Social empowerment of women and environment is closely linked. Women can play a major role in conservation and restoration of the environment. Rural women use unconventional and nature friendly source of energy in the form of animal dung, crop waste and fuel wood. Using of solar energy, biogas, and smokeless stoves can really help the rural women as they can act as environmental friendly tools.

Social empowerment of women: Participation of women in development of science and technology

Women’s empowerment cannot be complete without their equitable participation in science and technology. Women have special role to play in the area of science and technology. They can bring a wave of creative and generative energy in the field of science and technology. Today their participation is restricted and limited to very less numbers because of widespread discrimination at the basic education levels and lack of opportunities for pursuing higher studies. Reducing drudgery with the help of science and technology is another major area of importance for freeing women from the never ending domestic chores and making her contribute to the mainstream of the society.

Social empowerment of women: Helping women in difficult times

Women in difficult circumstances need special attention. These include women in extreme poverty, destitute women, women in conflict situations, women affected by natural calamities, women in less developed regions, disabled widows, elderly women, single women in difficult circumstances, women heading households, women who are displaced from employment, migrant women who are victims of marital violence, deserted women and prostitutes. These women are in difficult circumstances which are not of their own making. They are the victims of the selfish streak of society. It is ironical to note that women become the primary pray for all the malice and sins of the society. It is time to reverse this phenomenon. Organizations especially the grass root level social organizations should come in large numbers to help these women who are at the receiving end for a sin which is not of their making.

Social empowerment of women: Fighting against violence and discrimination

Violence against women is heinous crime against humanity. Violence can be both physical and psychological and it happens at the domestic front as well as at other levels of the society. It is in fact openly practiced in many societies through various forms which include customs and traditions. Sexual harassment at work, dowry related violence and trafficking of women and girls are different types of violence against women. Discrimination against women starts when they are just children. Girl child discrimination is the most prevalent form of harassment seen from the early age of a child. Parental sex selection, female feticide, female infanticide, child marriage, child abuse including sexual and psychological abuse and child prostitution are the many kinds of violence and discrimination against the girl child that is seen within the home as well as the society. Special awareness and education programmes needs to be formulated and implemented at every level to fight the violence against women. Strict laws need to be formulated to fight the crime of violence against women. More than formulating the laws the priority should be to implement and enforce these laws so that we can root out violence against women. This is necessary for any meaningful social empowerment of women.

2013′s Ten Biggest, Most Memorable Events

What was the biggest event of 2013? Was it Nelson Mandela’s death, the destructive Typhoon Haiyan, or the installation of Pope Francis to the Papacy? Or was it something else?

In a year where the world’s population reached 7.198 billion, Gregorian Year MMXIII has revealed no less hype, drama and tragedy than we’re used to seeing. Perhaps in terms of enormity the following ten events can be considered (in reverse ‘countdown’ order of importance) the biggest, most memorable:

NUMBER TEN – Typhoon Haiyan

One of the strongest cyclones on record, this storm, and the damage it brought, was the biggest single weather event bringing mass devastation for the year. Thousands were killed (5,822 confirmed) and millions misplaced. It devastated portions of South-east Asia. Winds that topped 270kph (167mph or 75m/s) were officially recorded. This hurricane has broken a plethora of records. Its damage bill is $2.4 Billion (USD).

NUMBER NINE – Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage

There are now twenty countries that have recognised same-sex marriages, though many of these, like in the United States, only small portions, or States, have passed laws. Same-sex marriage is now a global discussion point and debate on its merits and problems is an agenda item for almost every country.

NUMBER EIGHT – National and World Information Security Leaks

2013 will be long remembered for several instances where leaked classified documents caused international embarrassment and local pressure.

NUMBER SEVEN – North Korea Situation

In February, North Korea conducts its third underground nuclear test and receives widespread condemnation. Of bigger concern to world leaders is the unpredictability of North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un.

NUMBER SIX – Pope Benedict XVI Resigns

The first Pope to resign from the Papal Office since Pope Gregory XII in 1415 (who was forced to, due to the Western Schism), and the first Pope to resign under his own initiative since 1294, Pope Benedict XVI resigns due to declining health and old age. The resignation process commenced on February 11 and concluded on February 28.

NUMBER FIVE – Developments in the Middle East

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is deposed by the military with Adly Mansour appointed interim president. Also, tensions and political unrest in Syria reach crisis point.

NUMBER FOUR – Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi is Burmese opposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Burma, and the most prominent contemporary political prisoner in the world. She was released in 2010. Akin to Nelson Mandala – but in reverse (she was President in 1990 and was then under house arrest) – Aung San Suu Kyi stated in June that she will run for the 2015 Myanmar presidency in what is likely to be a massive regional development should she win and be allowed to govern.

NUMBER THREE – The Boston Marathon Bombing

Although there were relatively few fatalities and casualties, the scale of terrorism – to strike at the world’s oldest marathon event, and one of six ‘majors’ – defied belief, much the same as London (2005) and Bali (2002), but on a scale far less than September 11, 2001 in New York City. Three died and 264 were injured.

NUMBER TWO – Pope Francis takes Papacy

Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the 266th Pope) becomes the first Pope to wash the feet of women in the Maundy Thursday service. Pope Francis seems to continue a more liberal and more compassionate stance from the Papacy than the traditional Roman Catholic Church might be remembered for.

NUMBER ONE – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s Death

The Twentieth century’s paragon for peace, unprecedented in the scale of both his personal suffering and global impact he made for good, died peacefully, aged 95. Twenty-seven years of hard imprisonment at Robben Island preceded his single-handed unification of a broken South Africa in the 1990s. Perhaps most enduring of ‘Madiba’s’ legacies, however, is his personification of grace; his unstinting forgiveness of his transgressors.