Karl Williams | HR professionals’ role is to create ethical and successful organisations
Human Resource (HR) professionals are responsible for adding value to the organisations they serve and to contribute towards their sustainability and productivity. A strong ethical culture is one in which all employees are committed to doing what is right and successfully upholding the corporate values and standards.
As the profession continues to grow in sophistication and complexity, HR strategic leaders and practitioners will increasingly be faced with difficult ethical dilemmas. HR professionals are, however, subject to guidelines which, at the very least, are the same as applicable to other employees in an organisation. In many cases across the world, including Jamaica, the conduct of the professionals is guided by national and international HR Codes of Ethical Standards. Not only are HR professionals required to honour codes of conduct, but leaders are also required to respect the codes that govern HR practice and not force HR professionals to breach the conduct guidelines.
In our efforts to promote transformational leadership and protect the integrity of the profession, the Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica (HRMAJ) in 2007 issued its Code of Ethical and Professional Standards. The code outlines the minimum standards of conduct required of HR professionals. It is designed to influence internal dynamics/behaviour within organisations as well as the external relationships that impact the profession.
HRMAJ is fervent in its advocacy for the profession to engage in activities/best practices that enhance its credibility and value, and by extension support the ethical success of organisations. It is, therefore, moving towards the establishment of enforceable standards, with intention to seek regulatory support for this remit.
Among the areas addressed by the current HRMAJ Code are ‘Ethical Leadership’ and ‘Justice and Fair Dealing’.
HR professionals are expected to serve the employees, management and the public/customers, by contributing to creation of an ethical culture by engaging in activities to enhance credibility and social responsibility of the firm. He/she should model ethical leadership at professional and personal levels with transparency and integrity in dealings with business associates, employees and the public; and should refrain from abusing his/her designated authority and power.
i. Be role models for maintaining the highest standards of ethical conduct (legal, social, etc) and be ambassadors of the organisation we serve.
ii. Refrain from abusing the power relevant to our authority in our chosen positions.
iii. Act, in all professional forums, truthfully, respectfully, honestly, in compliance with rules of good/professional conduct.
iv. Question individuals and group actions that could be perceived as unethical breaches.
v. Seek professional guidance when in doubt.
vi. Champion the development of others as ethical leaders.
The HR professional is required to uphold the principles of justice and fairness in the treatment of business associates, employees and the public. He/she should support building social and economic environments that manifest equal opportunity in employment free of discrimination against race, national origin, religion, age, gender or otherwise.
i. Be responsible for fostering justice and fair dealings for all employees.
ii. Respect the uniqueness of individuals and promote diversity.
iii. Foster a trusting work environment
iv. Ensure decisions that are legal and ethical.
The leaders must set the tone at the top by modelling appropriate behaviour and ethical conduct of trustworthiness, accountability, and transparency. Employees will learn to trust and respect each other only if they observe these values and behaviours being lived by their leaders.
HR professionals/leaders have a critical role to play in creating ethical and successful organisations. In keeping with its commitment to position human resource professionals as key stakeholders in the development of human capital towards achievement of Jamaica’s Vision 2030 and beyond, HRMAJ, as a self-regulated association, plans to establish a National Registry of HR Professionals to which employers within the private and public sectors will have access. HRMAJ will retain the right to remove individuals from its registry. This will be a significant component in advancing the human resource management profession in Jamaica.