Scandals involving workplace harassment and poor treatment of workers have highlighted what can happen when ethics aren’t integral to the way organisations operate. With unique access to staff throughout their careers, as well as opportunities to influence an organisation’s strategy and the way it manages its workforce, people professionals are uniquely placed to support embedding principled decision-making into daily practice. Ethics are at the heart of professionalism. To create cultures of transparency and trust, practitioners should demonstrate strong standards of integrity when advising business leaders.

This factsheet explores what ethical practice means and why it matters in an organisational context. It outlines the trade-offs involved in upholding ethical values and the challenges faced by people professionals. Finally, it looks at the profession’s role in creating ethical organisational cultures.

This factsheet was last updated by:

Melanie Green: Research Adviser, CIPD

Melanie specialises in research on the people profession and good work. Prior to the CIPD, Mel worked as an HR practitioner in a technology organisation, and previously worked as a researcher in an employee engagement and well-being consultancy.

Tina Russell: Professional Conduct & Ethics Lead, CIPD

Tina leads the implementation of the CIPD Code of Professional Conduct. She has reviewed complaints of alleged breaches of the Code, managed investigations and conduct hearings, and been responsible for the management of over 60 volunteers.

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