Modern day approach to management is too methodical. Almost everything, tangible or otherwise is tried to be quantified and set within a mathematical formula, and every other business function is derived by said formula. Want to know how much raise to give to an employee? Use a particular formula! Want to know why an employee isn’t being so productive? Use a formula! Such behaviour really makes one think of corporations as human robot breeding machines, no wonder there is a term “corporate drone” in existence.

In the quest to quantify everything as a measure to perfect operational efficiency, qualitative ethos such as morals, integrity, loyalty etc are codified in most large corporations. While it does look good on paper, it seriously undermines the human aspect of work. On the one hand, such a measurement rewards the hardworking, regular and punctual employee, while on the other, it can wrongfully penalize someone for doing something they thought was right at the moment, without taking into consideration the entire situation. After all, ethics is an extremely subjective topic to deal with.

Let’s take an example of this. Mr X works as the safety inspector at a power plant. He is responsible to check whether everything is running smoothly or not, and if anything is wrong, a sharp red light flashes on his computer screen, at which point he must notify the concerned repairman immediately. As such, in theory, he’s barred from leaving his chair even for a moment. There’s a window in his office that gives a nice view of the street.

One fine evening during the night shift, Mr X sees a girl being harassed by some goons some meters away from the office on the street. He being an aware citizen leaves his desk and goes to help the girl. After all is said and done he returns back and resumes work. (The red light didn’t go off in his absence.) The very next day he’s fired. Why? Because he wasn’t supposed to leave his desk without notice while at work even though nothing went wrong.

Thankfully, the manager of Mr X stepped in and rehired him after hearing the real story behind his absence. As such, Mr X in the end was left at the mercy of the manager, hence the Code of Conduct didn’t really matter now did it? An eccentric sadist manager would have stood on the decision so finally everything is still up for subjective human judgment, further supporting the argument that ethics and code of conduct are merely words.

This is just one example of what could happen, for all we know the world is a large place with more things than we can possibly imagine. As such, it is a scary thought that your whole career revolves around a sheet of paper.

Another glaring example is the ethics regarding sexual misconduct in today’s offices. Admittedly, a lot of the supposedly well educated, well cultured guys still eve tease and harass women from their offices, and there are rules and regulations to stop that misbehaviour, but still, a lot of times the women won’t approach the HR out of fear of being judged by the society and the office colleagues. Once again, the Code of Conduct is rendered useless.

At the same time, there are a few women who would take advantage of guys by threatening them with charges of misconduct. The guy, out of fear of getting fired and being labelled a molester, falls into line. This time though, the Code of Conduct is used in a manner entirely opposite to what it was supposed to.

In conclusion, ethics should not be codified and examples need to be evaluated on individual merit. It would be a lot of work, yes, but the topic at hand is too subjective to be dismissed as a mere equation. Ethics aren’t like laminar flow, they’re more like turbulent flow, treat them like one.

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