[ANSWERED 2023] Before beginning your discussion, read the article Ethics vs. compliance: Do we really need to talk about both? Organizations often use the terms ethics and compliance interchangeably

Written By: Dan Palmer, RN

Before beginning your discussion, read the article Ethics vs. compliance: Do we really need to talk about both? Organizations often use the terms ethics and compliance interchangeably

Before beginning your discussion, read the article Ethics vs. compliance: Do we really need to talk about both? Organizations often use the terms ethics and compliance interchangeably

Ethics versus Compliance

Before beginning your discussion, read the article Ethics vs. compliance: Do we really need to talk about both? Organizations often use the terms ethics and compliance interchangeably. However, there are some nuances that are different between compliance and ethics. After reading the article, compare and contrast the similarities and differences between compliance and ethics. Evaluate whether a compliance officer or an ethics officer would be a better fit in your current organization (or in an organization with which you are familiar).  

Ethics, Compliance, and Training
Read chapter four in the textbook and Ethics, reputation, and compliance gain as corporate priorities. In the article, Hagel (2015) stated The demand for greater transparency from consumers and stakeholders across the world has pushed the areas of ethics and compliance up the corporate list of priorities in recent years.
In addition, the risk to reputation and potential damage that can be done if evidence of unethical practice is discovered have increased significantly with the advent of social media. (para. 2) Based on the importance of transparency, your organization (you can represent any organization, McDonalds, Starbucks, ESPN, etc.) has asked you to create a training presentation on ethics and compliance to be presented next week. Referencing the Hagel article, the Gonzales-Padron textbook, and at least two other journal articles, present an outline for your training as a response to this thread
• Create an outline describing the information that you would include in your training presentation.
• Must document all sources in APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center
Hagel, J. (2015, March 1). Ethics, reputation, and compliance gain as corporate priorities. Journal of Accountancy. Retrieved from http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2015/mar/business-ethics-and-compliance.html
Expert Answer and Explanation

Ethics versus Compliance

It is sensible to talk about ethics and compliance considering that people use these two words for the same meaning even though the words differ. The idea of using these words interchangeably presents a problem given that the two diverge across various dimensions. One of these dimensions is the level of compliance. It is mandatory for employees to comply with policies and regulations within their organization.

Conversely, these employees may choose to behave or act ethically, and they may face criticism for failing to adhere to abiding by the ethical principles or standards. In some instances, the breach of these standards may result into the litigation (Hagel, 2015). An individual’s behavior is ethical if they act appropriately based on the societal, professional or organizational expectations. On the contrary, one is considered obedient if they comply with existing laws or policies. Thus, a well-behaved person abides by ethical values while an obedient individual complies with regulations or legal policies.

However, the two exhibit shared characteristics. Just like compliance, ethics safeguards the organization given that they prevent the breach of organizational rules or policies which may expose the organization to the risk of litigation (Weinstein, 2019). They also cushion the organization against backlash given that employees’ behaviors and conduct conform to the ethical and legal guidelines which dictate behaviors. Still, the two define organizational culture by encouraging employees adopt desirable behaviors.

An ethics officer would fit into my organization’s case considering that they role goes beyond ensuring compliance to the organizational standards. This officer would guide employees to learn values which are critical to promoting compliance. They would also encourage employees to behave morally, and this can create a pool of workers who abide by the existing organizational and professional codes.


Weinstein, B. (2019). What’s The Difference between Compliance and Ethics?. Retrived from https://www.forbes.com/sites/bruceweinstein/2019/05/09/whats-the-difference-between-compliance-and-ethics/#29cef8975249.

Hagel, J. (2015, March 1). Ethics, reputation, and compliance gain as corporate priorities. Journal of Accountancy. Retrieved from http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2015/mar/business-ethics-and-compliance.html.

The Training Program for Ethics and Compliance

A. The Role of the Training

  1. Promote integrity and limit cases of misbehavior among employees.
  2. Equip workers with skills which they would use in identifying and resolving the problems they face.
  3. Reduce the chances of employees of damaging their reputation and that of the organization.

B. Meanings of Compliance and Ethics.

  1. Compliance requires one’s behaviors, decisions and conduct to be within the existing legal frameworks (Kadivar et al., 2017).
  2. Ethics deals with specific values or standards which one need to adhere to so that they would not face backlash or litigation.

C. The Protocol and Processes concerning Compliance and Ethics.

i. The Codes of Behaviors.

  1. The company’s values and principles.
  2. The company’s rules and regulations.
  3. The vision and mission which the company identify with.
  4. The behaviors, beliefs, values of the employees.
  5. Societal norms and expectations.
  6. Religious and cultural teachings which dictate how people ought to behave.

ii. The organizational policies and compliance.

  1. Employees’ actions and decisions have to reflect how the organization dictate they should act and behave (Kadivar et al., 2017).
  2. Employees have an obligation to follow rules and standards related to the organizational values.
  3. Employees should read and understand the requirements related to work tasks.
  4. Employees should make efforts to build better relationships with colleagues, customers and clients (Hagel, 2015).

iii. Signs of Ethical behaviors.

  1. Resolves conflicts and continuously strive to build relationships.
  2. Observes the rules and regulations related to those of the organization and the professional body.
  3. Constructively correct colleagues who make mistakes.
  4. Continuously strives to present a positive image of the organization.
  5. Is transparent in their actions and decisions.


Hagel, J. (2015, March 1). Ethics, reputation, and compliance gain as corporate priorities. Journal of Accountancy. Retrieved from http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2015/mar/business-ethics-and-compliance.html  .

Kadivar, M., Manookian, A., Asghari, F., Niknafs, N., Okazi, A., & Zarvani, A. (2017). Ethical and legal aspects of patient’s safety: a clinical case report. Journal of medical ethics and history of medicine10, 15..

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Before beginning your discussion, read the article Ethics vs. compliance: Do we really need to talk about both? Organizations often use the terms ethics and compliance interchangeably

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Ethical issues in the workplace

There are a number of ethical issues that can arise in the workplace, some of which include:

  1. Discrimination and harassment: Employees may experience discrimination or harassment on the basis of their race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.
  2. Workplace safety: Employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment for their employees. Failure to do so can result in injuries or even death.
  3. Privacy and data protection: Employers may collect and use personal information about their employees. It is important to ensure that this information is kept confidential and used only for legitimate purposes.
  4. Fair labor practices: Employers must comply with labor laws and regulations. This includes ensuring that employees are paid fairly, given appropriate benefits, and provided with a safe and healthy work environment.
  5. Conflict of interest: Employees may have conflicts of interest if they have personal relationships with clients, suppliers, or competitors. Employers should have policies in place to manage these conflicts.
  6. Whistleblowing: Employees who witness unethical behavior may feel compelled to report it. Employers should have a policy in place to protect whistleblowers from retaliation.
  7. Intellectual property: Employers must respect the intellectual property rights of others. This includes trademarks, copyrights, and patents.
  8. Environmental impact: Employers have a responsibility to minimize their impact on the environment. This includes reducing waste, using sustainable materials, and complying with environmental regulations.

It is important for companies to have policies and procedures in place to address these ethical issues and to ensure that employees are aware of their responsibilities. Employers must also be vigilant in monitoring their workplace for any unethical behavior and taking appropriate action when necessary.

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What is the difference between ethics and compliance?

Ethics and compliance are related but distinct concepts.

Ethics refers to the principles and values that guide human behavior, and the moral standards that govern how people should interact with each other. It is concerned with what is right and wrong, and what is fair and just. In the workplace, ethical considerations include issues such as respect for human dignity, honesty and integrity, fairness, and social responsibility.

Compliance, on the other hand, refers to the act of adhering to rules and regulations, both internal and external. It is about following policies, procedures, and laws that have been established to ensure that organizations operate in a legal, ethical, and socially responsible manner. Compliance is concerned with meeting legal obligations, mitigating risks, and avoiding penalties.

While ethics and compliance are distinct concepts, they are closely related. Compliance is one way in which organizations can demonstrate their commitment to ethical behavior. Ethical behavior is often a driver of compliance, as organizations strive to adhere to ethical principles and values in their policies and practices.

In short, ethics focuses on what is right and just, while compliance focuses on following rules and regulations. Both are important in ensuring that organizations operate in a legal, ethical, and socially responsible manner.

Example of an ethical dilemma

An ethical dilemma is a situation in which an individual must make a decision that involves conflicting moral values or principles. Here’s an example:

You work for a company that is experiencing financial difficulties. The CEO has asked you to “cook the books” and make the company’s financial reports look better than they actually are in order to secure funding from investors. You know that this is unethical and could potentially be illegal, but you also know that if the company does not secure funding, it may have to lay off employees or even shut down completely. You are torn between your loyalty to the company and your commitment to ethical behavior.

In this situation, you face an ethical dilemma because you are being asked to choose between two competing values: loyalty to the company and ethical behavior. If you comply with the CEO’s request, you would be engaging in unethical behavior and potentially breaking the law. If you refuse to comply, the company may suffer negative consequences and you may even lose your job.

Resolving ethical dilemmas often requires careful consideration of the consequences of each possible action, as well as an understanding of the moral principles and values that are involved. In this case, you might consider consulting with a trusted advisor or seeking guidance from a professional organization or regulatory body. Ultimately, you must make a decision that aligns with your personal values and moral compass.

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Why is ethics and compliance important?

Ethics and compliance are critically important in various contexts, including business, healthcare, and many other sectors. Here’s why they are vital:

1. Upholding Integrity and Trust:

  • Ethics and compliance help establish trust, both within an organization and with external stakeholders. When a business or institution operates with integrity and complies with relevant laws and regulations, it fosters trust among employees, customers, investors, and the public.

2. Legal and Regulatory Adherence:

  • Compliance ensures that an organization follows all applicable laws and regulations. This is crucial for avoiding legal issues, fines, and sanctions. It also helps protect the organization’s reputation.

3. Risk Mitigation:

  • An ethical and compliant approach reduces the risk of legal and financial consequences. Organizations that prioritize ethics are less likely to engage in risky or fraudulent activities, which can lead to costly legal battles and financial losses.

4. Reputation and Brand Value:

  • An ethical reputation is an invaluable asset. Companies and institutions known for ethical behavior often have stronger and more resilient brands, which can lead to increased customer loyalty and business success.

5. Employee Morale and Retention:

  • When employees work in an ethical and compliant environment, it fosters a positive company culture. This boosts morale and job satisfaction, which, in turn, leads to higher employee retention rates.

6. Attracting Talent:

  • Ethical organizations often attract top talent because people want to work for companies that align with their values. Companies that promote ethics and compliance are more likely to recruit skilled, dedicated, and conscientious employees.

7. Financial Stability:

  • Compliance with financial regulations, accounting standards, and ethical financial practices ensures the stability of an organization’s finances. This is essential for the long-term success and sustainability of the business.

8. Stakeholder Confidence:

  • Ethical and compliant behavior instills confidence in stakeholders, including shareholders, customers, and suppliers. They are more likely to invest, purchase, or collaborate with organizations that operate with integrity.

9. Enhanced Decision-Making:

  • Ethical considerations guide decision-making by taking into account the broader impact on society, the environment, and all stakeholders. This results in more responsible and sustainable decisions.

10. Social Responsibility:

  • Ethical behavior goes beyond legal requirements. It involves a commitment to social responsibility, which includes environmental stewardship, fair labor practices, and community engagement. This is increasingly important in today’s socially conscious world.

11. Long-Term Success:

  • Ethical and compliant organizations tend to have greater longevity and resilience. They are better equipped to weather challenges and crises, making them more likely to achieve long-term success.

12. Moral and Ethical Imperative:

  • Beyond practical reasons, ethics and compliance are inherently important as they reflect a commitment to doing what is right and just. They align with societal values and principles of fairness, honesty, and respect for human dignity.

In summary, ethics and compliance are not merely about following rules; they are fundamental to an organization’s success, reputation, and impact on society. They guide behavior, protect against risks, and promote the well-being of all stakeholders, making them essential in today’s complex and interconnected world.



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