“Virtue ethics provides managers and business leaders with an opportunity to ask themselves what kind of people they become through their actions and how their decisions impact the lives of others. It gives them a chance to consider what kind of business environments and cultures they should build, how business goals, policies and procedures foster positive or negative learning in their employees and what kind of societies they contribute to developing through their operations and the products and services they offer.” (1)
Good ethics start with you. It is similar to the CERN Code of Conduct: such a code is not designed to remind us to be in agreement with its values, but rather it is intended to remind us that we should first apply it to ourselves. Why is this in our interest?
Although around a hundred cases a year are reported to the Ombuds, several issues may still not be disclosed due to employee silence*. The deliberate withholding of concerns, escalating misunderstandings or genuine conflicts can impede the global process of learning and development of a better respectful organizational workplace environment, and prevent the detection and correction of acts violating the CERN Code of Conduct.
Most people that seek help from the Ombuds just want that their dispute ended, so they can get back to work in normal, respectful conditions. They clearly express it when I ask them what they want: “I want it to stop!” How should it stop? And who should stop it?
Over the past two years, the Ombuds has seen double the number of cases involving women staff members compared to those involving men, relative to their populations. Two questions can thus be asked: is that a general phenomenon also seen in other organizations? Or is it related to the under-representation of women, namely is this a common situation in organizations with fewer women than men? If so, the Ombuds should notice different statistics in organizations where the number of women and men is comparable.
Just the word “telecommuter” is enough to make many managers start to sweat. When faced with the prospect of managing an employee they cannot even see, basic managerial knowledge often becomes hazy, resulting in a confusing arrangement for both manager and employee. As more and more of our world revolves around technology and an increasing number of jobs can be executed from an office at home, managers must learn how to adapt their leadership style to cater to both remote employees, and those working in the office.(1)
Mediation is a structured process in which an external party, called a mediator, helps participants generate and evaluate options that would allow them to reach a mutual agreement. It is an informal and confidential process.
“I hope that the Code of Conduct will be a valuable tool in the maintenance and development of a workplace marked by mutual respect and understanding. We should familiarize ourselves with it, and incorporate it into our daily life at CERN.”*
“The Organization does not tolerate harassment, which can result in administrative and/or disciplinary action.”**
In any institution, conflicts are inevitable. They can, however, offer an opportunity for a positive resolution. Relationships in a workplace are generally better and stronger between people who have been able to reach a positive resolution of their disagreement, than they are between people who get along moderately well. However, in disputes involving two antagonistic parties, people often forget that there is actually a third party behind the scenes: the institution.