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7.1 Loyalty to the Company

Although employees’ and employers’ concepts of loyalty have changed, it is reasonable to expect workers to have a basic sense of responsibility to their company and willingness to protect a variety of important assets such as intellectual property and trade secrets. Current employees should not compete with their employer in a way that would violate conflict-of-interest rules, and former employees should not solicit previous customers or employees upon leaving employment.

7.2 Loyalty to the Brand and to Customers

Employees have a duty to be loyal to the brand and treat customers well. Internal marketing is one process by which a company instills employee commitment to the brand and builds loyalty in its workforce. This loyalty should be a two-way street, however. If the company wants its employees to treat customers with respect, it must treat them with respect as well.

7.3 Contributing to a Positive Work Atmosphere

Ethical employees accept their role in creating a workplace that is respectful, safe, and welcoming by getting along with coworkers and doing what is best for the company. They also comply with corporate codes of conduct, which cover a wide range of behaviors, from financial dealings and bribery to sexual harassment. In addition, they are alert to any situation in the workplace that could escalate into violence. In short, the employee has a duty to be a responsible person in the job.

7.4 Financial Integrity

Legal and cultural differences may allow bribes in other countries, but bribery and insider trading (which allows someone with private information about securities to profit from that knowledge at the public’s expense) are illegal in the United States, as well as unethical. A clear gift policy should be in place to help employees understand when it is acceptable to accept a gift from another employee or an outsider (such as a vendor), and to distinguish gifts from bribes.

7.5 Criticism of the Company and Whistleblowing

Employees should understand that there are limits to what can be posted about their employer online, just as there are limits to what they can say in the workplace, and that the First Amendment generally does not protect such speech. Whistleblowers are protected, and sometimes rewarded, for their willingness to come forward, but they can still face a hostile environment in some situations. Employees should not use whistleblowing as an attempt to get back at a boss or employer they do not like; rather, they should use it as a means to stop serious wrongdoing.

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