Companies’ decision to develop a code of ethics can either be voluntary or as a result of a legal mandate. Nonetheless, ethics are essential pillars of a firm’s success because they govern both internal and external behaviors. Notably, codes that manage organizational relationships are crucial in the sense that they directly impact employees’ morale, which in turn affects the quality of services offered to clients. For instance, ethics that promote inclusivity make workers feel valued and enhance their input in the corporation. Businesses that lack clear codes of conduct can experience unethical practices, such as sexual harassment, which affect the overall determination, relationships, and productivity levels among the staff.
Overview of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is a prominent unethical act in today’s organizations, which affects all genders. Although the practice victimizes both men and women, the issue is highly prevalent among females. Studies conducted in the United States show that up to 80% of women in the country undergo sexual harassment in their places of work (Keplinger et al., 2019). The nature of assault reported in these cases falls under the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence against Women (OVW) definition of the act — “unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature which affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with their work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment” (Shaw, Hegewisch, & Hess, 2018, para. 3). While the federal agency provides a national definition of immoral behavior, each organization should determine the extent to which a deed qualifies as sexual harassment.
Impact of Sexual Harassment on Overall Morale, Relationships within the Organization, and Productivity Level
Job-related unethical practices adversely affect employees’ morale, organization relationships, and overall productivity levels in companies. Siti et al. (2015) assert that workers who experience sexual harassment exhibit high rates of absenteeism and job dissatisfaction. Turnover intentions may be prevalent among staff who face sexual advances from their superiors. The authors also add that unwelcome sexual conduct is one of the leading causes of poor working relationship. Imposing sexual pressure on the staff may result in conflicts, especially when co-workers fail to comply with such demands. Besides, employees may be hesitant to work under managers who portray high levels of sexual advances. Increased employment turnover, absenteeism, and poor working relationships lower the aggregate input and output in a company.
Case Scenario: Google Inc.
While most organizations have policies to prevent cases of sexual harassment, Google has been a victim of unethical behavior in the past. In 2013, Mr. Rubin, the company’s creator of Android mobile software, was accused of assaulting a female employee (Wakabayashi & Benner, 2018). Although the allegations were confirmed, Google Inc. failed to take proper actions against the offender. Instead, reports showed that the corporation paid Mr. Rubin $90 million upon his dismissal (Wakabayashi & Benner, 2018). However, continuous cases of sexual misconduct in the firm have led to the adoption of stringent regulations in recent years. For instance, in 2015, the corporations CEO, Sundar Pichai, announced that the new code required all Google’s executives to disclose any non-work related relationship they may have with employees (“CBS News,” 2018). Such measures, which are also implemented by most businesses, are aimed at providing a safe working environment for all staff.
Rating of Ethical Practices in Google Inc.
I would rate Google’s ethical practices as fair. Despite previous shortcomings by the management portrayed in its reluctance to take proper actions against sexual offenders, the firm has shown substantial efforts to fight against the act. For instance, the administration fired 48 employees alleged to have indulged in sexual harassment (“CBS News,” 2018). In addition, the firm’s CEO introduced more stringent policies to prevent unethical practices in the future. However, I think that the current rules may not be strict enough to deter such behaviors in the organization.
Although sexual harassment has continued to plague today’s society, a few practices that a company, such as Google, can implement to avoid such misconduct are available. The most significant effort would be to develop firm policies on sexual harassment. According to Buchanan et al. (2014), robust codes of conduct should comprise a clear definition of the deed. Businesses should have an outline of sexual assault indicators. The authors also emphasize that guidelines should be in written form, rather than being communicated verbally. Published principles can easily be distributed among employees as sources of reference in their daily activities. Besides, written rules can easily be retrieved for use in time of sexual allegations.
Overall, sexual harassment in the work environment affects morale, relationships, and productivity levels in the organization. Often, such cases of misconduct are dominant among women, but also affect men. Many companies, including Google, have previously been victims of such allegations. Although the firm had not dealt with the situation adequately in the past, the company has shown promising efforts to avoid recurrence of sexual harassment. Other companies can also achieve such success by developing a written policy on sexual conduct.
Buchanan, N., Settles, I., Hall, A., & O’Connor, R. (2014). A review of organizational strategies for reducing sexual harassment: Insights from the U.S. military. Journal of Social Issues, 70(4), 687-702.
CBS News. (2018). Google sexual harassment: 48 employees fired, CEO says in memo. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/google-sexual-harassment-ceo-sundar-pichai-admits-company-had-a-sexual-harassment-problem-fired-48-employees/
Keplinger, K., Johnson, S. K., Kirk, J. F., & Barnes, L. Y. (2019) Women at work: Changes in sexual harassment between September 2016 and September 2018. PLoS ONE 14(7): e0218313. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0218313
Shaw, E., Hegewisch, A., & Hess, C. (2018). Sexual harassment and assault at work: Understanding the costs. Institute for Women’s Policy Research: Briefing Paper. Retrieved from https://iwpr.org/publications/sexual-harassment-work-cost/
Siti, A., Zainuddin, Z., Ahmad, S., Nur, S., & Suzila, S. (2015). The effects of sexual harassment in workplace: Experience of employees in hospitality industry in Terengganu, Malaysia. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 6(4), 689-695.
Wakabayashi, D., & Benner, K. (2018). How Google protected Andy Rubin, the ‘Father of Android’. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/25/technology/google-sexual-harassment-andy-rubin.html