Workplace Ethics

Outline of the Conversation:

Sanjita and Ena are coworkers at a Tata Motors office in Pune. Sanjita observes Ena'sunethical behavior in the workplace for a while. She ignores Ena's actions until the two are assigned to complete a project together. Sanjita decides to have a heart-to-heart talk with Ena about her behavior. She treats Ena to breakfast  before work, and gets Ena to acknowledge her improper workplace conduct and agree to change before beginning the project.

The Conversation:

Ena: Thanks for treating me to breakfast Sanjita. So what do you want to talk to me about?

Sanjita: Ena, I've brought you here to talk about workplace ethics.

Ena: Ok. What about them?

Sanjita: Allow me to be candid. I don't know of any other way to say this to you. No offense, but I notice a serious lack of workplace ethics in your performance. If we're going to be partners on this new project, you are going to have to change or I'm afraid that we cannot work together.

Ena: I'm sorry Sanjita; I don't want you to feel like that. I really want to work with you. Who wouldn't want to be your partner? You are one of the best employees this office has!

Sanjita: I appreciate your praise. We can try to work this out. But you have to be open to a lot of criticism. Can you handle that?

Ena: Well I don't think I have a choice. Don't worry; you won't hurt me. I really need to know.

Sanjita: Ok, the first issue I have with your performance is your lack of honesty and integrity. I've witnessed you lie in person and on the phone to customers, promising them that a purchase or product is better than it actually is. 

Ena: But isn't a little exaggeration necessary to make a sale and keep the customers happy.

Sanjita: Some modest exaggeration might be acceptable, but never outright lies. I've frequently seen you lie when applying for a leave. You tell the HOD that you are feeling sick or that you have urgent family matters to attend to. You later told me that you used this information as a pretext to get out of work. Remember?

Ena: Yes, but I did not think it was that big of a deal. I mean the company runs fine without me.

Sanjita: Ena, this deception cultivates bad habits and we suffer during your absence. I also see you squander a lot of company time and steal company property. You pretend to do work but you're really surfing the internet and using Facebook. When our manager is away, you've often used the company phone to make personal long distance calls.

Ena: I know, but it costs the company nothing and saves me money. What's wrong with that?

Sanjita: It is the principle of it. It's dishonest. Our managers have repeatedly asked us to use the company lines for work only. Besides, you are tying up a much needed line when you do that. You can chat with your cousin Jasmine in Ludhiana about Punjabi cooking on your own time, at your own expense.

Ena: Oh no! You must know all about my conversations. I did not realize that I was being so obvious. Are you going to report me Sanjita? Please don't; I can't afford a reprimanding!

Sanjita: Relax. I haven't yet, but you have to change if we are to work together. And Ena, you really need to stop taking stationery home. I constantly have to ask for refills. This doesn't look good and it is costing the company money. We don't want to give it any reason to cut our pay.

Ena: You really are vigilant around the office. I had no idea because you can be very quiet at times. I guess I thought I could get away with some things. I'm really not a dishonest person; please believe me. 

Sanjita: I want to believe you. Another thing is that your consistent tardiness has to stop. You know I've had to cover for you when you're late since we're officemates. Just think of how smoother our day will go if you start work on time.

Ena: Yes of course. I admit that I have not evaluated my own performance in a long time. The days go by so quickly and I suppose I haven't paid enough attention to my job performance. This conversation has actually helped me realize where I need to improve.

Sanjita: I'm glad to hear that. Just remember that your behavior affects the company and its employees in one way or another. If we follow a good code of work ethics, we help protect our fundamental rights, our emotional security, and company assets. Team work will be easier to achieve and our company's public image will be more positive.

Ena: I see. I promise that I will work hard to improve my work ethics and give one hundred percent on this project. You'll be my partner won't you?

Sanjita: I think I have given you enough scolding for a day. Thank you for being humble and listening. And yes Ena, we will work together. Let's eat our breakfast before it gets cold!


Heart-to-heart - Very sincere and honest.

Unethical - Morally bad: not ethical.

Candid - Expressing opinions and feelings in an honest and sincere way.

Integrity - The quality of being honest and fair.

Outright - In a full and complete way.

Pretext - A reason that you give to hide your real reason for doing something.

Squander - To use something in a foolish or wasteful way.

Reprimand - A severe or formal scolding.

Stationery - Materials (such as paper, pens, and ink) that are used for writing or typing.

Vigilant - Carefully noticing problems or signs of danger. 


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