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Influencing ethical standards in the workplace

By Peter Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Feb 08, 2012

As a business consultant, I have spent a good deal of time in client offices over the past 15 years. One of the most fascinating things about this experience is learning about the ethical standards of a company. Typically this learning process does not include reading the employee guidebook or standards document, although that information can be helpful. The only real way to tell the ethical standards of a company is how its employees behave. Sometimes, the behavior exhibited by the employees is very different than what is preached at the top.

One of the challenges faced by business owners and executives, Catholics included, is how to shape an ethical and positive corporate culture while still maintaining a competitiveness level in the field. For example, this is a particular concern for small, growing businesses that imagine a level of growth beyond which it will be difficult to maintain the same culture (for example, 20 employees). This concern is often compounded by management growing pains – such as the owner(s) learning how to transition into a more leadership-oriented management role as the company expands. I’ve experienced these challenges as a business owner, and now part of my job is helping other companies to push through them.

The reason this is an appropriate topic for The City Gates is because it speaks to the Catholic desire to both do all things well and lead a truly integrated life. In other words, Catholics are called to strive for perfection and to not alter the basic approach to that pursuit in our professional lives. This can pose a particular challenge to Catholic business owners and executives who can shape the corporate culture from the top, but also to Catholics working for companies that have a thoroughly secular ethical approach.

We all have an obligation to try to shape the culture around us, including the workplace. Do readers have any practical suggestions or personal examples of how this can be accomplished? Please circulate this message so that we can get more feedback. Logged-in donors to can post a public comment in Sound Off! (below)...all others can click the “email the editor” link right below this paragraph – the messages will come to me, and will be used in a future post.

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  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Feb. 08, 2012 2:18 PM ET USA

    Our family has opened a mental health clinic as a retirement practice, but God had other plans and sent us a partner, another principal, three employees and twenty-odd staff contractors. We are striving to incorporate Christian moral principles into our practice, and people are taking notice all around the area. It seems that the more we give away, the more we receive. It's a lot more work than we wanted to do, but less than God had in mind.

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