People are driven by a thought and passion that always stems from their personal values and principles. These values and ethics often translate into one’s daily routine, guiding through the dos and don’ts, right and wrong. But what happens when you’re in a position that makes you act against your ethics, a position that will put your profession on the line? how do you then do ethical work in PR?
Ethics play a strong role in steering an organisation on the right path towards success. It can help the organisation build a powerful, loyal base of stakeholders, and turn them into advocates. While organisations hire talent who are fit culturally, ethics is the most important quality one must possess as a professional, especially in the PR sphere, where one is responsible for disseminating correct information to stakeholders.
As Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management launches Global Ethics Month this February, PR professionals are reminded that ethics in communication is the core of the PR fraternity. The campaign #EthicsMatter brings to the forefront the role of ethical work in PR and communication business, governance and education. And makes us question ourselves, “Are we ethical enough?”
Businesses are increasingly emphasising on the importance of ethics and incorporating it extensively in their vision and mission. Stakeholders are demanding more focus on good governance and transparent practices in order to perform better on industrial indices. In India specifically, prioritising ESG (Environment, Society, Governance) has proven to be financially beneficial for organisations. This also determines the future financial performance of the company, attracting the right talent and investors.
However, is this enough? What about the key issues that continue to remain inadequately tackled?
While some organisations find it easy to bring in ethics – ESG, there are sectors wherein ethical boundaries are not defined as easily or at all. There have been instances where the leadership of some organisations have forcibly made their employees go overboard in order to bring business results. But for the lack of precedence, the ethical boundaries could be undefined. One such example is the fall of Wells Fargo in 2016, when their fraud scandal came to light. This fraudulent practice severely costed the bank its sterling reputation and affected millions of lives.
This often puts the employee under duress in a situation where they trade their ethics for their job. and leaves stakeholders wondering – to what extent can the organisation be trusted.
A frequent occurrence in PR management practices are the limitations of charters or code of conduct. The lack of an enforcement body for ethical standards is a major loophole for a company when professionals cross ethical boundaries while trying to build the company’s reputation. It goes without saying that one’s reputation comes with a lot of risk and at a cost. So when a company crosses this thin line, who’s enforcing ethical codes?
Ultimately, ethics boils down to the individual. Doing the right thing is never easy especially when there is a lot at stake. But it clears your conscious and doesn’t let regret get the best of you. To create a strong ethical work in PR environment is to focus on where such values are created and stay rooted in them.
To hone one’s ethical belief at work, a few academic institutions have placed a paramount value on ethics. Understanding the thin line of ethical work in PR sphere and the dilemma professional face, our institute, SCoRe, exposes students to such situations and guides them through it. We challenge their pre-existing knowledge of ethics and help them acquire the necessary toolkit to keep building their ethical standards. Additionally, we encourage companies to partner with such academic institutions to help future professionals understand the long-term value of staying ethical at the workplace. As young professionals learn the importance of ethical work in PR, their foundation years sets base for a great career start.
This blog is a part of insights on Public Relations shared by SCoRe. Know more about what we do to spread PR Knowledge: www.scoreindia.org