This article provides my responses to several questions about business ethics and sustainability. I put more emphasis on the role of the leadership in establishing a positive ethical climate in the company. While ethical behavior is expected from every member of the organization, the top management is responsible to create an environment where ethical behavior can flourish.

Does management, in your view, help shape the values and ethics of an organization?

I think management has a substantial role in shaping the values and ethics of an organization. The management has the privilege to create the organizational culture, intentionally or not. People in the management can also impose the ethical expectation of the organization on their subordinates. Over time, interactions in the workplace, which are mostly ignited by the management, will create an organizational culture and create a shared concept of right and wrong behavior in the workplace.

This shared concept of right and wrong behavior in the workplace will also develop as a part of the organizational climate, which is the shared perception of the organizational members about their work environment (Robbins & Judge, 2017). Protecting and promoting the organization’s culture is one of the job responsibilities of a manager (Brusseau, 2012). So the role of management in shaping the values and ethics of an organization is crucial.

What about an organization’s sustainability efforts and commitment?

The organizational climate also includes the shared perception of the company’s sustainability efforts and commitment. If the management can create a positive organizational climate related to sustainability efforts and commitment, the employees will follow along that giving commitment to sustainability in their work will be valued, instead of reprimanded. The management should show its efforts and commitment first, through policy-making or other means. Then, the common perception about the ethical behavior in this issues will be established.

On whom does the responsibility to consider sustainability fall?

While everyone should be able to endorse and push the organization to embrace the sustainability concept, the responsibility to consider it and apply it should fall to the decision-maker. Top management, as well as, shareholders should bear the responsibility to consider sustainability seriously, not only focusing on a potentially decreasing profit, but also on potentially increasing benefits from the triple bottom line, people, planet, and profit as well.

Is employee behavior, ethical or not, a by-product of the organization’s ethical climate?

The ethical climate reflects the true values of the organization and shapes the ethical decision-making of its members (Robbins & Judge, 2017). Employees would act and decide mainly influenced or even guided by these values. So in a sense, yes, employee behavior is a by-product of the ethical climate of the organization.

Business ethics and sustainability can be an example. If a company has a good ethical climate regarding sustainability issues, where sustainable practices from its employees are acknowledged and rewarded, the employees will have higher commitment in sustainability issues.

What ideally is the manager’s role in helping to create and maintain organizational integrity?

Robbins and Judge (2017) listed five principles that managers can adhere to create a more ethical culture.

  1. Be an apparent role model or an ethical benchmark for the employees
  2. Clearly communicate the ethical expectation to the employee, e.g. by sounding a clear organization’s code of conduct
  3. Arrange ethical training for employees to reinforce the organization’s standards of conduct
  4. Use reward and punishment programs to increase the awareness of the employees.
  5. Accommodate proactive mechanisms where employees can discuss ethical dilemmas and report unethical behavior without the fear of being reprimanded.

I think these five principles are a great way for a manager to leverage their position to help maintain good and healthy organizational integrity. A positive ethical climate begins at the top of the organization.

Can you provide an example of Ethical Behavior in business setting

Here in my hometown, there’s an architecture consultant company called Urbane. The company became popular, even among the general public, when the founder of the company was elected as the mayor of the city. Many people were concerned that the company would monopolize the government’s construction projects in the city. However, the company managers made special ethical guidelines, not to take any project from the city government, which was also agreed upon by the founder. This is a good example of how a company can avoid conflict of interest.


Brusseau J. (2012). Business Ethics. Retrieved from:

Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. A. (2017). Organizational Behavior, Global Edition (17th ed.). Pearson.

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