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Ethical Decision Making and Hiring


A Code of ethics is a set of principles that states the expected conduct of employees and third parties in the line of business. The code of ethics prevents unnecessary business risks arising from the conduct of employees or third parties in the line of business. A Code of conduct is a set of professional standards that guide the behavior and conduct of employees in their line of work. The code of ethics is specific to the organization, while the code of conduct cuts across professionals in different organizations. Ethical decision-making in the hiring process allows an organization to arrive at rational decisions based on past employees’ honest information. Before arriving at the final hiring decision, the organization conducts an employee screening to ascertain that the candidates meet the ethical standards required by the organization. Past ethical conduct of employees influences the hiring decision-making of an organization during the hiring process. Today, organizations are concerned about the need to engage in ethical decisions and minimize the risks associated with unethical actions. Human resource managers arrive at the final hiring decisions after considering pre-employment tests, social media screening, credit checks, and criminal history. These factors influence the ability of potential candidates to fit in the organization’s culture and follow the existing code of conduct without much challenge. Organizations should comply with different federal and legal requirements while using screening tools. Human resource managers should consider adopting the best hiring standard that specifies the procedure followed during the hiring and recruitment process.

Ethical Decision Making and Hiring

The ethical hiring process involves examining the candidates’ backgrounds and attitudes to ascertain that the organization engages employees with high integrity and professional standards. The organization’s code of ethics promotes moral employee behaviors in the line of duty and includes such attributes as honesty, respect, integrity, and concern for others. On the other hand, a code of conduct specifies the expected employee conduct in the organization or a specific profession. Organizations utilize both ethical and professional standards in the hiring decision-making process.

 Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct

A Code of ethics is a formal organizational document that specifies the expected employees’ and third parties’ conduct (Adelstein & Clegg, 2015). The organization’s code of ethics is arrived at after considering behaviors that will result in the best employee conduct. Industry standards also play a role in influencing the designing of an organizational code of ethics. Employees must comply with the rules and regulations to ensure efficient business conduct. On the other hand, codes of conduct specify the expected behavior and practices of members of a professional body. Therefore, the principle of ethics is general and can be similar between two organizations. At the same time, the code of conduct is specific to a profession and varies depending on the professional standards.

A Code of ethics allows the organization to communicate corporate governance and discipline expectations to employees and third parties. It will let employees know the rules and regulations to adhere to in the line of work and the possible disciplinary actions. The code of conduct allows organizations to monitor and implement initiatives to ensure ethical behavior in the modern-day complex to manage the business environment (Hill & Rapp, 2014). A well-stated code of conduct allows members of a professional body to relate the expected business conduct with the overall vision and mission of the organization and act towards the organization’s success.

The code of ethics primarily aims to communicate the organization’s expected practices, conduct, and guidelines to the staff members. The code of ethics allows for consistent moral virtues in daily business operations. On the other hand, the code of conduct states the expected behavior of different organizational stakeholders. It reminds employees of the expected ethical conduct to conform individual actions to the required organization standards.

Factors to Consider when Making Ethical Hiring Decisions in the Organization

When making hiring decisions, the human resource manager should consider making decisions from an ethical point of view. The human resource manager should ensure that the hiring decision is fair, honest, and follows the organizational hiring procedures. Hiring the right employees will help the organization avoid risky employee behaviors or conduct that might expose the organization to future risks. The following factors will guide the human resources manager in ethical hiring decisions.

Pre-employment Tests

Pre-employment tests are checks done during the interviewing process to help the organization identify the ethical attitudes of the potential candidates. The pre-employment tests evaluate the individual candidates’ knowledge, skills, and skills compared to the organization standards using cognitive, ability, personality, medical, physical, and drug abuse tests (Dwoskin et al., 2013). Pre-employment tests allow human resource managers to gauge employee abilities in a particular job role and conform with the ethical code of conduct in the organization.

Social Media Screening

Social media screening is researching the candidates’ ethical prospects from the activities and use of social media platforms. Social media screening allows employers to discover attributes about job applicants which they don’t display during the interviewing process (Stoughton et al., 2013). Social media platforms are a rich source of information that human resource managers can use to understand hidden individual morals and ethical standpoints. The use of social media screening is subject to legal and privacy regulations that organizations should adhere to before researching a candidate’s past social media activities.

Credit Checks

Employers conduct credit checks to assess the financial behaviors of potential candidates. Past credits influence job performance and the likelihood of an employee engaging in fraud at the workplace (Shethji, 2016). Critics of credit checks argue that the method is discriminatory and denies equal opportunities to job seekers. Credit checks are subject to Fair Credit Reporting Act regulations that require employees to seek permission from candidates before conducting background checks and inform them if they fail to secure employment due to negative credit history.

Crime History

Criminal background check searches criminal databases for past federal or state crimes and convictions. A criminal history check is necessary for the job hiring process to help the organization promptly identify and avoid hiring candidates with a questionable criminal history. Criminal checks also give the human resource manager and the whole organization the confidence to deal with law-abiding citizens. Difficulty obtaining criminal records from a common database, lack of timely update of documents, and shortfall of a national system that maintains crime records make it difficult for companies to readily obtain criminal records (Brody et al., 2015, p. 556).

Best Hiring Process

Human resource managers should formulate a step-by-step procedure to follow during the hiring process. The procedure will help to safeguard the organization from contravening legal provisions on fair hiring practices by engaging in ethical background checks. The hiring process will help ensure that the organization employs employees who will easily blend with the organization’s culture and code of conduct.


Many organizations conduct background checks to ascertain that candidates with desired qualifications and ethical attributes are hired. Background checks allow an organization to identify red flags from past employee conduct and take necessary steps to mitigate the associated risks. Organizations should conduct comprehensive background checks before arriving at the final hiring decisions.


Adelstein, J., & Clegg, S. (2015). Code of ethics: A stratified vehicle for compliance. Journal of Business Ethics138(1), 53-66.

Brody, R. G., Perri, F. S., & Van Buren, H. J. (2015). Further beyond the basic background check: Predicting future unethical behavior. Business and Society Review120(4), 549-576.

Dwoskin, L. B., Squire, M. B., & Patullo, J. E. (2013). Welcome Aboard! How to Hire the Right Way.

Hill, R. P., & Rapp, J. M. (2014). Codes of ethical conduct: A bottom-up approach. Journal of Business Ethics123(4), 621-630.

Shethji, P. (2016). Credit Checks Under Title VII: Learning from the Criminal Background Check Context. New York University Law Review91(4).

Stoughton, J. W., Thompson, L. F., & Meade, A. W. (2013). Examining applicant reactions to the use of social networking websites in pre-employment screening. Journal of Business and Psychology30(1), 73-88.


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