An ethical environment is the goal of any manager who wants their business to be both successful and dedicated to helping people improve their lives. Managers who want to develop an ethical environment must first remain steadfastly ethical themselves. They must behave with respect toward everyone. A leader sets the example for the rest of the workforce, and a leader who lies and cheats and shows disrespect to others will never succeed in creating an environment founded on trust and good moral choices. This is why managers must take the first step and model the behaviors they want to see in others.
To develop an ethical environment, managers must also work to develop a clear set of standards, policies, and practices. It is also important to recognize that ethical decisions are not always clear cut, so managers should not oversimplify but rather acknowledge complicity and allow for flexibility as needed. That said, though, the written rules of ethical behavior should be in place and expanded to include new circumstances as they arise.
Finally, managers who want to create an ethical environment should also establish clear channels of communication and confidentiality. Managers must talk to employees about ethical behavior, both the positive and the negative sides, so that everyone knows the expectations and the consequences as well as options for solving ethical problems. Managers should let employees know that they can come with questions and concerns and even with complaints that will be treated seriously and confidentially. This builds trust. If employees do not feel they can talk openly to their managers about issues or if they feel that their concerns will be discussed with others, they will be much less likely to communicate.