Case Analysis On Matters Relating To Professional Conduct
You are a Director of the Ethics and Compliance Office at XYZ Corporation. XYZ is a US-based for-profit management health care company. As of 2020, it was ranked #5 on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest US corporations by total revenue.
You have been contacted by various supervisors to resolve the following issues:
1. An intern applicant posted negative remarks on Facebook about an internship at the Controller’s office at XYZ for which she had applied. The negative comments were focused on the policy for professional dress as an intern. Should she receive an internship at XYZ? Consider both legal and ethical implications.
2. An current employee of XYZ posted negative comments about his job at XYZ regarding the cleanliness of the foodservice at the office’s pantry. Food is cooked and served to both employees and customers. Are such actions sufficient to amount to termination? Of not, what other actions will you suggest? Consider both legal and ethical implications.
3. You received numerous complaints from supervisors that many staff members are on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter frequently during the work day. Supervisors are concerned about the loss of employee work time and productivity as employees use work computers and time to send personal e-mails, play games, shop, in addition to visiting social media sites. Can supervisors monitor employee Internet use at work? Can they place a limit? What should be the consequences if employees do not cooperate? Consider both legal and ethical implications.
a. Identify issues presented
b. Research 3-4 Fortune 500 Large Corporations – Compare the companies’ Code of Professional Conduct
c. Draft a memo addressing three issues presented above. Consider both legal and ethical consequences.
d. Draft a segment to be added to XYZ Company’s Code of Professional Conduct to prevent the issues presented above by establishing company policy.
Case Analysis On Matters Relating To Professional Conduc
A code of professional conduct is a necessary component for any profession as it aids in maintaining the proper standards for respective professionals. A code for professional conduct brings about accountability, responsibility and trust to the persons served by the respective profession (James, 2022). On the other hand, the absence of a comprehensive code of professional conduct will leave the employees with no proper understanding of what they should do, in particular instances limiting the company’s ability to build a compliant culture.
As the Director of the Ethics and Compliance Office at XYZ Corporation, ranked #5 on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest US corporations by total revenue, it is prudent that a comprehensive code of professional conduct guides its professionals. This research analyses various issues that relate to the professional behavior of its employees in three different instances, look into the codes of professional conduct in other Fortune 500 corporations and determine how the issues are to be addressed while considering the legal and ethical implications that relate to them. Finally, the discussion will draft a segment to be added to the Company’s Code of Professional Conduct to prevent the issues from happening by establishing the company’s policy.
Issues Presented In The Three Situations
The first scenario involves the intern applicant posting negative remarks on Facebook on the negative comments relating to the policy on professional dressing. The issue is whether these negative comments should be the rationale to determine whether this potential intern should get the internship opportunity at the Controller’s Office. This raises concern on how the company’s management looks through the social media interactions of potential applicants trying to identify their behaviors. There is a question of what does the company require of its potential applicants regarding how they discuss different issues that could one day affect the company.
In the second scenario of a current employee posting negative comments on the company regarding the cleanliness of the food service at the office’s party, the issue of whether appropriate channels have been established within the company for employees to air out their concerns arises. If the proper channels have been set up, the concern of whether they have been used also arises. There is also the issue of whether the employee’s actions should lead to their termination and the implications of such a move.
The third scenario involving supervisors making numerous complaints of many staff members spending time on social media platforms during their working periods raises concerns about the use of the internet at the workplace. This also includes monitoring employees in how they use the internet, considering that the extensive use leads to extensive losses in the employee work time and productivity levels.
The Use of Codes of Professional Conduct In Fortune 500 Large Corporations
Google is among these top companies with a comprehensive code of professional conduct developed in a straightforward manner such that everyone can read and understand it. It has addressed numerous issues such as retaliation, conflicts of interest, bribery, confidentiality, among others. Therefore, for a matter that relates to the safety and health of the workplace, the company asserted its commitment to ensuring that the work environment remains safe, healthy and free from violence (Google, 2022). Any party that becomes aware of a risk to the workplace’s safety, health, and security is instructed to report out to Google Security promptly. If the risk is life-threatening or an emergency, they should tell the emergency responders, including the police, then report to Google Security. For every matter handled in Google’s Code of Professional Conduct, there is a clear description of the company’s commitment, what they have prohibited, and the protocols to be followed in case the prohibited issues happen.
PepsiCo has a Global Code of Conduct that is an extensive document covering various topics that include the duties of individual employees, respect required in the work environment and the company’s responsibility to the shareholders (Snook, 2017). Considering the company is a massive global entity, it has ensured that the Code is easily understandable and very precise in what is expected from employees. The Code is rooted in one of its primary behaviors: ‘The Pepsico Way’, acting with integrity. The Code also explains how it will be administered, including information on how investigations are carried out and the respective disciplinary actions to be taken. The employees are also encouraged to report bribery, violence or any other misconduct through the company’s hotline.
VISA is another Fortune 500 Company with a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics that is precise, detailed and comprehensive. Each of its sections has a few primary rules and explanations on how they are applied (Snook, 2017). Also, helpful notes, example situations and links to other policies where employees can get more information have been provided. One of the most distinctive features of the Code is the extensive resource section in the end. It includes contact information and the steps to be followed when reporting concerns on every topic, from data privacy rules to HR incidents. The employees can easily navigate the section and make quick reports if they see something arising.
To: Supervisors at XYZ Corporation
From: Director of the Ethics and Compliance Office at XYZ Corporation
Subject: Addressing The Issues Related to the Professional Conduct The Company
The first scenario relates to an intern applicant posting negative remarks on Facebook about an internship at the Controller’s office at XYZ for which she had applied. The negative comments were focused on the policy for professional dress as an intern. This issue raises both legal and ethical implications. From the negative remarks on the dress code, one legal implication is whether the professional dress code is based on real business needs and is not discriminatory. Nevertheless, considering that this is currently an outsider speaking of the company’s dress code, they may have a limited understanding of why the company has established a policy giving guidelines on the p[rofessional code.
Notably, there is still a concern on whether these negative comments should be used against the applicant to avoid them from getting the internship opportunity. From a legal perspective, the company could be conducting background checks on the applicant, and that is how the company accessed the negative comments they started. From an ethical standpoint, compliant social media screening highlights behaviors that go against the generally accepted standards of conduct and would negatively affect the workplace. This would make the company’s management wary of bringing an individual who has publicly spoken negatively of the company to affect their reputation. It would be substantial not to have the applicant not receive the internship because this is a genuine factual issue where the company would not want to bring an individual who disagrees with how the company conducts itself. A company prefers an individual who shares feedback with the company rather than one who speaks negatively of the company on social media, risking the company’s brand. To avoid legal constraints on the company, all applicants must also have their public social media platforms screened; hence, the criteria would have been applied equivalently to all interested candidates.
It is prudent to note that the hiring parties only look into the publicly available information from these candidates. As an employer, the screening should be done in the public social media platforms such as Facebook such that the company is not stated to have infringed on one’s privacy during the search. This approach is also to be followed when the company looks through their employee profiles. The only searches should be done on the publicly available information, with any private searches being considered an invasion of privacy on the management’s part. The searches need to consider whether these social media interactions uphold the generally accepted standards in society. Social media searches can be valuable due-diligence tools and a fundamental step in pre-employment background screening. Applicants could be found espousing or promoting criminal activity and hate speech or making derogatory comments about co-workers or employers. The company must ensure a potential applicant understands that not getting the internship was because of these factors and not any form of discrimination based on the protected classes.
The second scenario related to the current employee of XYZ posting negative comments about his job at XYZ regarding the cleanliness of the food service at the office’s pantry. Food is cooked and served to both employees and customers. The issue raised is critical, considering that the health and safety of these employees are at risk. Therefore, with words out there. It means that the company is at risk of having its reputation damaged. Nevertheless, this move does not warrant the sacking of these employees.
The legal implication affiliated with the situation is that the employee may have attracted attention from the regulatory authorities that govern the health and safety of food consumed by organizations by both employees and consumers. Sacking the employee would only make the situation worse. Instead, it is time that the company comes up with remediation measures that focus on investigating its food service levels of its food service levels. Both employers and clients need to see the company making investigations on ascertaining how clean their food services are and implementing respective strategies to improve it further. From An ethical perspective, it is considered unhealthy for employers or consumers to be served unhealthy food. Therefore, it would be even worse for the employee to be fired over raising this concern. Instead, the situation should prompt the organization to ensure that the matter does not happen.
Additionally, to prevent this issue from getting to the public domain, the company must establish appropriate protocols that the employees need to follow to raise concerns without the risk of losing their jobs. If the company had proper protocols that employees need to follow, they would have their employment terminated for not following protocol. However, since these protocols are non-existent, the employee cannot be fired, and the company needs to establish now the protocols for making reports to the company’s management. The main objective should be ensuring that food security levels are of the highest standards. At the same time, the company has proper reporting mechanisms to be followed by employees and customers.
The third issue relates to the numerous complaints from supervisors that many staff members are on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter frequently during the workday. Supervisors are concerned about the loss of employee work time and productivity as employees use work computers and time to send personal emails, play games, shop, in addition to visiting social media sites. Every company would wish to monitor its employees on how they use the internet during the working periods while also ensuring that they are not infringing on their privacy. This raises an ethical concern, considering the company wants its employees to work at maximal productivity levels while also ensuring that they are not infringing on their privacy.
The legal implication of this matter is whether the law does agree to monitor internet usage. Currently, it is legal to track and examine employees’ internet usage for both web and email infractions (Keough, 2022). Considering that the organization wants to monitor internet usage, the employees need to be fully aware of it. They should be informed that the monitoring is not invading their individual information but building a safe, compliant and productive work environment. Therefore, it is acceptable for the supervisors to monitor the internet use of its employees as they continually use the company resources such as the work computers. The limit is that the monitoring will look into internet use only during working hours. This rule should be set out in the internet policy where employees know that they are being monitored. The repercussions for not assenting to the policy should lead to a contract termination considering the company is also looking to ensure that their employees are working maximally.
XYZ Company Code of Professional Conduct in Relation to the Issues
The Social Media Screening Policy for the Hiring process
● The Company is to outsource its screening needs from a reputable background checking Company to shield itself from discrimination claims.
● The potential applicants need to agree to the terms and conditions in the written hiring policy to be attached with the applicant’s application documents. This policy has incorporated social media as part of its information gathering, focusing on publicly available information.
● Every applicant accepting the terms of the written hiring policy formally through their signatures will be fully aware that their social media is to be screened and information collected to be used in the decision-making process.
● Every applicant will undergo social media screening to ensure everyone receives equal treatment. This equal treatment means every applicant will have all public social media accounts affiliated to them screened. Every applicant must provide their social media accounts to various platforms.
● No offers are to be made before a social media check is entirely conducted.
Reporting procedures For Hazards and Risks In The Workplace
● The workplace is to define the potential hazards or risks in the workplace. In this case, a hazard or risk is any action or inaction that puts at risk the health and safety of the people that work or purchase the company’s products.
● If an individual identifies a potential risk or hazard, it is vital that they first speak to their supervisor or manager.
● If the issue cannot be resolved locally, it can be escalated to a triage process. In consultation with an independent party such as the police, independent managing officers and the individual, the three could come up with the best approach for finding a solution that will not compromise the employee’s job security.
● The organization will need to take prompt action on the risks or hazards reported, including ceasing any further activities at the affected segment.
● All stakeholders need to be informed on the issue and respective measures underway for preventing the hazard from happening again.
Use of Internet Policy At The Workplace
● Employees of the Company are trusted to use company property respectfully and appropriately.
● The Company has zero-tolerance for comments and actions that would be considered racist, sexist, derogatory, vulgar, threatening, harassing, or otherwise discriminatory. This includes but is not limited to activities and comments partaken when using the internet and other technology provided by the Company,
● Employees are expected to use company-provided internet and other devices as a resource for completing their assigned duties and supporting the entity’s objectives.
● Cyberloafing or the excessive personal use of company internet during work hours is not allowed. Only the occasional and reasonable personal use is acceptable as long as this use does not affect the employee’s productivity, does not violate other guidelines in the Code of professional conduct, does not cause a disproportionate effect on the Company’s network. The employees do not use it for commercial services outside of the tasks and obligations of the Company.
Google. (2022). Alphabet investor relations. Retrieved from https://abc.xyz/investor/other/google-code-of-conduct/#:
James, J. (2022). What is a code of conduct & why is it important? Retrieved from https://www.delta-net.com/compliance/code-of-conduct/faqs/why-is-a-code-of-conduct-important
Keough, M. (2022, January 25). Monitoring employee internet usage. Retrieved from https://www.spadetechnology.com/monitoring-employee-internet-usage/#:
Snook, A. (2017, August 29). 18 of the best code of conduct examples. Retrieved from https://www.i-sight.com/resources/18-of-the-best-code-of-conduct-examples/