Ethical principles are important in all aspects of life, and the workplace is one important sphere of human affairs. If principles concerning what is right or wrong are disregarded in favor of making money, the results can be devastating—both personally and professionally. Although egregious workplace misconduct may be prohibited by law, ethical transgressions are often more subtle and open to more than one interpretation.
One aspect of workplace ethics is taking care of customers in an honest and straightforward manner. Employees in an ethical company realize that the customers' interests are paramount. I know of one international company where this was not always the case. A struggling English-language institute put lower-level students with more advanced ones in an effort to minimize its red ink. Not surprisingly, the weaker students failed badly. Their parents did not get a good return for their tuition dollars, and the students may have developed a strong dislike for the English language as a result of the experience.
In a workplace, employees struggle to get ahead because the vast majority of them seek higher pay and/or promotions. Ethical employees are mindful of their responsibilities at the company and treat co-workers with the utmost respect at all times. Competition for personal advancement should be subordinated to the interests of the company and its customers.
Employers ought not to cheat or underpay their employees. For example, wage theft is rampant at many companies. Excessive CEO pay packages—hundreds of times greater than many firms' average salaries—are not ethical.
Always being ethical is not an easy task. Almost everyone needs to work to survive. Whistleblowers are not typically welcome at any company. Ultimately, ethical workers need to find an ethical employer or work for themselves.