HR Management

The ABCs of Ethics in the Workplace

While a substantial paycheck may entice a job candidate to seek employment at a particular nonprofit, an organization’s reputation for ethical procedures and workplace culture can be just as persuasive. An ethical workplace provides a fair and harmonious environment for every worker, promoting equal opportunity, honesty and open communication. Specifically for leaders, developing and adhering to ethical values in the office is key to helping employees determine what type of behaviors are expected of them.

Here are a few ways you can maintain an ethical culture at work:
 
  • Communicate ethical priorities through training, meetings and ongoing encouragement—From the get-go, it’s imperative to train your employees on the fundamental values of your organization. Explain why ethical behavior is a priority, and how to effectively carry out ethical action. Give them realistic examples of potentially tough decisions, and equip them with the knowledge and tools they need to make the ethical choice.
  • Lead by example and be consistent with your follow-through—Your employees can readily identify inconsistency or unfair treatment. Rather than merely telling them how to act, show them that you not only support ethical behavior, but practice it on a day to day basis. This includes addressing bad decisions, and brainstorming ways to improve ethical practice.
  • Hire employees with a similar ethical compass—Being upfront with your nonprofit’s ethical culture during the recruitment process can help you determine best-fit candidates. More often than not, employees will have a difficult time upholding ethical priorities if they do not agree with them. Hiring individuals with the same morals can lead to an easier transition and will further strengthen your nonprofit’s ethical foundation.


Because nonprofits are often small organizations working in a small sector, their reputations are precious. Creating and implementing a strong ethical culture where employees maintain integrity will improve internal morale and help the overall business grow.

Learn more about how to encourage strong ethics within a work environment here.