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In today's work environment, workers are expected to know more than ever before. With the growing of technology comes more knowledge that end-users must know, so it is important for workers not to be distracted by unethical practices. However, with technology also comes a more defined sense of communication, which can be good or bad. This improved communication can not only encourage unethical behavior, but it can discourage it as well. This paper discusses how technology can encourage and discourage unethical behaviors, it explains how these behaviors can shape the type of work environment that a company promotes, and it identifies how Human Resources (HR) uses technology to influence culture.
Technology can encourage unethical practices in a number of ways. The ways that I describe involve communication of messages and images. Today, the media can reflect some very vulgar and offending messages. Especially via computer, the perpetrator of these messages can offend employees, within their own culture or in another culture, through e-mails, instant messages or unsuspecting software. Imagine being at work, and an e-mail from an unknown address comes in and your curiosity gets the better of you. When you read the e-mail, there is a very offending joke about your ethnic heritage or culture. The e-mail, obviously, was unethical and distracted you from your duties as an employee at your company. The same can be said about instant messages. For example, while your busy at work an instant message comes in and shows a link to a web-site that you happen to be curious about. When you click on the link, an image of pornography appears on the home page. The material offends you because you are happily married, a priest, or just someone with high moral standards. This is another way that technology can encourage unethical behavior and distract you from your job. Although technology can be a distraction through unethical means, it can also hinder unethical practices through policy.
Many companies already have policies that guard against unethical practices, but some companies need to implement new policies or reform their existing one. Many popular practices are used to stop unethical use of the computer. Regularly updated virus protection software can reduce the amount of viruses that your company computer might catch. However, if your virus protector is not updated, it may even slow your computer down (Entech 2003). Always be skeptical when surfing the net, especially when viewing e-mails, because e-mail attachments, free downloads, and other computer enhancements can contain spy-ware which can damage or delete your computer files.
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Depending on how culturally diverse a company is, ethics can affect a company dramatically. With today's culturally diverse workforce, there are a wide variety of ethical standards to be aware of. If these standards are not considered, many workers or potential workers can be offended. However, if they are met, it becomes easier for a company to meet their goals through the advantages of a diverse workforce. For instance, if a company hires a French employee for an upper management position, the employer might want to know some of his or her work ethics. Depending on how the employer reacts to the French's work ethics, the employer may or may not want to hire them. The only thing that the employer had to do was Google "French work ethic," and a detailed description of French work ethics supplied the information needed. Consequentially, in this case, work ethics can shape a company's culture for the better or for the worst, depending on how co-workers and managers react among each other's cultural diversity. If the employer were to realize that in order to obtain the diversity that a cross-functional team has to offer, sacrifices (training) need to be made; his/her company would likely grow in the long run. This is why it is important to have an HR manager handy to make these decisions.
An HR manager can do many things with technology to affect a companies culture. For instance, some companies have a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. If the HR managers of these companies do some research on the Internet, they will find an abundance of information about the different cultures of their companies employees. Then they can make copies of the information and make it a mandatory duty for each employee (including management) to learn the different cultures. This might prevent future conflicts of offending natures. Another thing that they could do is make sure that the company has a strict policy about e-mails, Internet surfing, and malicious software that could offend people. Furthermore, purchase any software that can prevent any of these computer problems.
Technology can be used effectively or destructively to set ethical standards and shape a companies culture. Furthermore, HR managers can be an essential component in the decision making process of how to shape a companies culture, because they are used to dealing with a variety of different people (at least more so than their co-workers). Still, it is important to know how to use technology effectively in the shaping of a company's culture so the company can take advantage culture's benefits.
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UnderstandFrance.org Web site: http://www.understandfrance.org/France/Intercultural3.html