Ethics and Values at Workplace – Can an Individual Make a Difference?

It was shocking to read articles about the fraud at Ranbaxy and how the company systematically sold untested poor quality medicines to the world. At some point of time or other, I am sure many of us would have consumed medicines manufactured by this company. I shudder when I think of what could have happened to me or my loved ones. And my heart goes out to the poor patients in Sub-Saharan countries who consumed the medicines hoping that they would get well.  

It’s not about one company; it’s about us – human beings! How can we play with lives of fellow human beings?

How can money or profits take precedence over core human values?

How can worldly pleasures become more important than human life?

How can someone indulge in actions knowing completely well that their actions will negatively impact fellow human beings?

Unfortunately, it is obvious that some people can engage in such activities. It’s a sad; but harsh reality of life. I would like flip the coin and see as to what we can do to mitigate and provide a counterbalance; evaluate what can be done at individual level by each one of us. Here are few possibilities:

  •  Act with integrity – We don’t need to become saints; I for one can never become a saint! But, we can develop an ability to see beyond material gains and pleasures. One of the 7 habits of Stephen Covey is ‘begin with the end in mind’. What would I like to be remembered as when I am no more? This question will hopefully help us navigate better in life. There is nothing wrong in earning money; it’s the means that one adopts to earn it that matters. It’s the actions that matter.
  •  Inculcate right values in next generation – As parents, uncles or aunts; we can make huge difference in our own children, or those around us. As leaders, our actions speak volumes to the young team members who work with us. When they see us work with integrity, placing higher importance on core human values, they in turn would hopefully learn the same. Children and young employees can be easily molded – either positively or negatively. I wonder what work ethics young employees at companies like Ranbaxy would have picked up!
  •  Courage to confront – It’s not easy to confront a problem or bring the issues to light. It demands lot of courage. Many a times, the other party is strong (as witnessed in case of Ranbaxy). Several people would prefer to get themselves out of the situation rather than fight a long lonely battle to bring issues to light. Hats off to the whistleblower whose long fight ensured that the problems of Ranbaxy come to light.

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