Building ethical organisations: From mother’s perspective

As we celebrate mothers in the month of May, we pause to reflect on the pivotal role that mothers play in shaping society. Mothers are a pillar of strength at home, in society and in business. We draw important lessons from motherhood in order to understand how we should strengthen our organisations and inculcate values and principles in building ethical organisations.

As we celebrate mothers in the month of May, we pause to reflect on the pivotal role that mothers play in shaping society. Mothers are a pillar of strength at home, in society and in business. We draw important lessons from motherhood in order to understand how we should strengthen our organisations and inculcate values and principles in building ethical organisations.

Motherhood is associated with growth, responsibility, love, care and many other things done in order to prepare a child for adulthood. This role can be defined by social, cultural, religious and biological attributes but the essence of motherhood is about forming a relationship with a child. It involves imparting values and knowledge to a child, with a hope that the child will uphold these principles in their journey through life. Similarly, labour law, policies and other factors influence basic conditions of employment or the relationship between an organisation and employees; yet the real relationship (the bond) is not captured in these regulations. This relationship includes aspects such as values, trust and culture which are essential for ethical performance and should be cultivated over time. These attributes are dynamic and require both the organisation and the employee to have a common understanding of the organisational objects and trust that each party will enable and support the attainment of organisational interests.

  Motherhood Organisational culture
Pregnancy During pregnancy mothers read about motherhood, seek advice and take all the precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of the child  Before an organisation recruits, it needs to ensure that it creates a conducive environment for people to behave ethically. Develop structure, set ethical standards,  policies, vetting of employees etc.
Birth Bring an innocent gift( life) into the world Appointing employees who are competent and who align themselves with the organisation
Nurturing Mothers nurture the infant through feeding, clothing, and touching. A bond is formed between the mother and child and it is based on love and trust. Organisations should nurture the human capital. They should provide an enabling environment for ethical employees to thrive in. Inducting programmes should capacitate employees to understand the organisational values and policies as well as their own responsibilities. A culture of trust has to be fostered where employees can communicate their shortcomings and the organisation can protect employees from unethical conduct and victimisation.
Educating Mothers teach the child language and communication: ‘‘mama’’, ‘‘papa’’.

Managers and leaders in the organisations should develop the ethics talk of their organisation so that the ethics vocabulary of their employee improves. This will raise the level of awareness of ethics standards:

‘‘ethics’’, ‘‘values’’.

Disciple Mothers provide incentives for good conduct and tell everyone in the family and society. She also institutes fair discipline when rules/ standards are contravened. She further explains to the child what the contravention was and how to remedy the situation. Organisations should tell good ethics stories to their stakeholders. The organisations should also apply discipline when standards are contravened and communicate its dissatisfaction with the unethical behaviour.
Role modelling Children mimic what they see from their mother. So the mother behaves in a manner in which they expect their child to behave. Through this role modelling process, the child learns acceptable behaviour. Leadership have the responsibility to behave in a manner that is consistent with the values and standards of the organisation. This role modelling responsibility influences the behaviour of employees and sets the tone on the expected conduct.

 

As mothers apply what they read about, follow advice from other parents and grandparents, listen to their intuition in parenting, they also understand that the decisions made by their adult children are not within their control. All they can do is to provide advice and trust that their son/ daughter will make good decisions and with an expectant heart, mothers hope that they make the correct choices. Organisations comply with regulations, apply best practices and seek advice from Specialists in organisational ethics; however they also need to understand that ultimately each employee has to be able to make decisions on behalf of the organisation. They can set the standards, communicate those standards to employees, capacitate them on ethical decision making but at the end of the day employees will make decisions based on the authority assigned to them. Organisations can only monitor the decisions to establish if the standards are upheld, institute discipline and create a barrel that makes it easy for employees to do the right thing.

As we celebrate mothers, we also celebrate organisations that create an ethical foundation which is necessary for employees to maintain ethical standards.