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The role of ethics in human resource management is simply the fact that ethics is the chief cornerstone of the entire human resource management practice. Indeed, human resources deals with the personal aspects of the business enterprise, and it touches on a lot issues that require the application of ethical standards. Some of the areas that demonstrate the value of ethics in human resource management include the hiring of employees and issues of promotion, discrimination, sexual harassment and privacy as well as the practice of stated occupational safety and health standards.
One of the primary functions in the human resources department is the hiring of workers. This is a weighty responsibility that has many ramifications for the prospective employees who may either benefit from getting the job or remain unemployed. It clearly demonstrates the place of ethics in human resource management because the human resource manager, who often has the final say when it comes to the decision regarding whom to hire, must be truly ethical in the hiring process. For instance, the human resource manager must ensure that merit is the basis for the decision of whom to employ, not any personal or professional bias, preferences or inclinations. For instance, if a male human resource manager is faced with the decision of hiring one out of two females, such a manager must ethically base his final decision on the more qualified of the pair and not the more attractive.
This leads to another issue that reflects the role of ethics in human resource management. Human resources managers and other employment decision makers must not abuse their position by trying to use it as a means for sexually harassing both prospective employees and current employees. For instance, the application of ethics demands that the human resources manager must not demand sexual favors from desperate applicants in return for promises of employment. Managers must also ethically refrain from practices like demanding sexual favors from workers in return for keeping their jobs or continuing to receive certain benefits.
Of course, the role of ethics in human resource management would not be complete without the important issue of discrimination. This includes different types of discrimination, such as those based on religion, sex, handicap, race, physical attributes, sexual orientation, political affiliations and even something as trivial as the sports team a prospective employee supports. Sometimes the decision about whom to employ depends more on the inclinations of the human resources manager than on the needs of the organization. Any organization where the human resources processes are not firmly rooted in ethics will eventually suffer in terms of incompetent employees and a reduction or lack of fulfillment in production capacity.