In today’s complex and dynamic business landscape, the criticality of ethical behavior cannot be overstated. Organizations are increasingly recognizing the significance of maintaining high ethical standards to ensure long-term success and stakeholder trust. However, navigating ethical dilemmas and addressing various ethical standpoints requires a comprehensive understanding of different ethical frameworks. This essay aims to critically assess different ethical standpoints on people practice and the maintenance of high standards of ethical behavior. Additionally, it will explore how organizations can take the lead in challenging all levels of the organization to provide balanced responses to these ethical standpoints both internally and externally. This analysis will be supported by references to the 7CO03 CIPD Module.

Different Versions of Ethics:

Ethics encompasses a multitude of theories and frameworks that guide individuals and organizations in their decision-making process. Several ethical standpoints exist, including deontological ethics, consequentialism, virtue ethics, and ethical relativism. Each perspective offers unique insights into the practice of ethical behavior within an organizational context.

Deontological ethics focuses on adhering to predetermined rules and principles, emphasizing duty and obligations. In people practice, this approach can ensure consistency and fairness in decision-making, as ethical principles guide HR policies and practices.

Consequentialism emphasizes the outcomes or consequences of actions. This standpoint argues that ethical behavior is determined by the overall impact on stakeholders. HR professionals employing consequentialist ethics would assess the potential benefits and harms associated with their decisions, striving to maximize positive outcomes.

Virtue ethics centers around character traits and virtues, highlighting the importance of personal integrity and moral excellence. In people practice, HR practitioners adopting a virtue ethics approach would prioritize cultivating ethical leadership and promoting ethical values throughout the organization.

Ethical relativism acknowledges the cultural and contextual differences in ethical beliefs. This standpoint recognizes that ethical standards can vary across cultures and suggests adapting ethical practices accordingly. HR practitioners should be sensitive to these cultural nuances when implementing people practices globally.

Challenging Ethical Standpoints:

To maintain high standards of ethical behavior, organizations must foster a culture of ethical responsibility and actively challenge different ethical standpoints. This requires a proactive approach to ensure internal and external stakeholders receive balanced responses.

Internally, organizations should establish clear ethical guidelines and codes of conduct, encouraging employees at all levels to align their behavior with these standards. HR professionals play a crucial role in designing and implementing ethics training programs that educate employees about different ethical perspectives and equip them with the necessary tools to make ethical decisions.

By promoting open communication channels, organizations can create a platform for ethical discussions and debates. HR should encourage employees to voice their concerns and perspectives, allowing for a broader understanding of ethical standpoints within the organization.

Externally, organizations must demonstrate transparency and accountability in their actions. This includes engaging with stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, and the community, to understand their expectations and concerns regarding ethical behavior. HR can contribute by integrating stakeholder feedback into the development of ethical policies and practices.

Maintaining High Standards of Ethical Behavior:

To maintain high standards of ethical behavior, organizations must implement robust ethical frameworks and mechanisms to monitor and enforce ethical practices.

HR departments can establish ethics committees or appoint ethics officers responsible for overseeing ethical compliance throughout the organization. These individuals should have the authority to investigate ethical violations, offer guidance, and recommend necessary actions to rectify unethical behavior.

Regular ethics audits and assessments can help identify potential gaps or weaknesses in ethical practices. These evaluations should be conducted with an objective lens, considering both internal and external benchmarks, industry standards, and legal requirements.

Organizations should incentivize ethical behavior by integrating ethical performance indicators into performance management systems. Rewarding employees who consistently demonstrate ethical conduct reinforces the importance of ethical behavior within the organization.

HR can support employees by providing channels for reporting ethical concerns anonymously. Whistleblower protection policies and procedures ensure that individuals can come forward without fear of retaliation, allowing organizations to address unethical practices promptly.


Maintaining high standards of ethical behavior in people practice is crucial for organizational success and stakeholder trust. By critically assessing different ethical standpoints and taking the lead in challenging all levels of the organization, HR professionals can foster a culture that promotes balanced responses to ethical dilemmas both internally and externally. Implementing robust ethical frameworks, encouraging open communication, and incentivizing ethical conduct are essential steps in achieving and sustaining high ethical standards. Embracing these practices aligns with the principles of the 7CO03 CIPD Module, emphasizing the importance of ethical behavior in people management.

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