top of page

The Power of Ethical Culture : Championing Ethical Culture V Toxic Culture ©

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

Organisational Culture is the in-house shared behaviours, values, beliefs, vision, mission, and goals that exist in the every day to day running of a business or organisation. Culture is the backbone of an organisation; it steers and creates the overall workplace environment, directs the inherent employee’s connection and engagement. The organisational powerhouse influences the culture that empowers innovation and leadership in line with the employees shared goals.

Cultural values and norms are a powerful means of stimulating innovation. Successful innovation may depend on organizational cultural norms that groups develop and the extent to which the group’s cultural orientation aligns with, and is supported by the organization’s overall orientation. (Ethem Duygulu and Emir Özeren)

How can we cultivate an Ethical Culture, a culture wherein employees are creative, safe, happy, engaged, empowered, rewarded and motivated? And how can we transform a workplace that is abusive, brutal, unsafe and psychologically violent?

Ethical Culture

An Ethical Culture is safe, respectful, diverse, inclusive and equitable. Emotional intelligent leaders, inspire, empower, respect the boundaries of safety, and model healthy interpersonal behaviours. Conscious organisations aspire to create a legacy of moral business conduct and are tuned to the importance of conscious human culture. They are committed to environmental sustainability, economic inclusion, safe workplace practice and social responsibility. The key indicators of an equitable culture are having a “speak up” culture, an ethos of collaboration and an active Power Statement of Safe Communication. Problems are challenges which are addressed and resolved without personal trauma or injury. There is a policy of speak up, treat the challenge, learn, transform and innovate. An empowering culture is a safe culture that offers opportunities, nurtures talent and encourages creativity. Intelligence in the World of Work embraces employees’ physical, mental, spiritual, psychological, emotional safety and well-being. An enlightened culture recognises that this results in a higher retention of qualified employees, contributes to higher profits, production, innovation and has the ability to evolve and retain global leadership in a fast changing economy. There is minimum time and financial waste/loss from employee conflict litigation. The organisation shines in its reputation of being an active just and fair leader in its successful business.

Toxic Culture

There is much evidence of abusive cultures with historic practices of subservience, abuse, exploitation and strict cohesion. Many traditional institutional structures are still a restricted, controlled culture that reinforce immoral behaviour and set a tone and atmosphere of coercive control, manipulation, sadistic behaviours and dark energies. The abuse is often covert and is conducted by a group(s) who abuse(s) their position of power and authority.

For this discussion I will examine the role of an unethical manager(s), BUT there are other forms of unethical behaviours in the workplace.

Toxic or Vulture Culture, is the abuse of Power and Authority and is a key factor in psychological harassment and violence in the workplace. An unethical manager(s), exploits the resources (inc. human) of the organisation; partakes, enables and is a bystander(s) to abusive behaviours. A callous aggressive manager(s) can destroy the heart or stunt the growth of an organisation. A toxic manager(s) is often the instigator, gatekeeper and controller of the hostile environment while often (covert, overt) attacks, ambushes, gaslights, manipulates and ostracizes those who question “the authority” or "chain of command”. An unethical manager surrounds him/herself with a close network of bystanders and enablers to reinforce his/her abusive power. He/she has little interest in the survival of a targeted employee(s). A toxic leader lacks the human skills of empathy, honesty, safe communication and is basically self-serving. At all times, the mismanagement of the workplace is for the perpetrator(s) own gain and benefit. A perpetrator of dishonest and dehumanising behaviour leaves a legacy of atrocity and hardship. This includes stealing or taking credit for someone else's work, self-promotion, plagiarism, nepotism, favouritism, racism, sexism, ageism, and free access to resources (overtime, benefits, salary, time in-lieu). A target will suffer huge personal losses including, health, career, financial and family stability. A toxic manager(s) motivation is greed, self-interest and he/she loves the prestige, glory, power, and personal financial gain. He/she loves to look successful which he/she gains through unethical means and usually at the expense of someone else's survival. There is a total lack of transparency, guidelines are unclear and he/she is constantly changing the goalposts to suit their underhand plan(s). A key indicator of a toxic culture is an atmosphere of collusion and secrecy and there is a FEAR to "speak up". This ruthless corrupt behaviour becomes the norm in the workplace.

Transforming Culture

Inside Google’s Culture of Success and Employee Happiness (Neil Patel)

Human resources, or People Operations, is a science at Google. They’re always testing to find ways to optimize their people, both in terms of happiness and performance.

Today, companies like Google and their teams are lifting the anchor of archaic oppressive cultures. Innovative companies promote and validate happy productive co-operative workplaces while they still sustain competitive advantage and retain motivated, competent talented employees. A wellbeing culture is a healthy and lucrative resource; (for the organisation and its employees) it embraces opportunities, nurtures talent, co-creates, collaborates, innovates and is an inspiration for generations to come. It retains the most talented employees in their safe “hub” and boasts of an invigorating atmosphere that propels the dance of evolution. Safe Leadership is recognised and rewarded.

Conscious Culture

A conscious culture is an ethos of justice, empathy, fairness, equity and safe treatment. The Power of Ethical Culture, organisational strategy and communication along with leadership innovation influences the reputation, legacy and longevity of an organisation. Ethical Culture is exemplary when those at the top of an organisation consistently act as a model for all employees, inspiring trust and unity. Leaders’ intentions define and live ethical beliefs, accountability and co-create an imprint that is measured by its influential legacy. There is a continuous cultivation and transformation of mindsets. An authentic workplace promotes not only physical safety but understands the importance of psychological safety and emotional well-being in the workplace. There is a zero tolerance of inappropriate menacing behaviours that devalue the core moral of the organisation. A culture of safety is a priority and unsafe behaviour is not tolerated. An atmosphere of trust that empowers leaders and employees to deliver the company’s mission, collaborate, overcome challenges and inspire innovation. 2021 is now in the full realms of global networking. Localised faction fighters cannot be enabled to collapse innovative organisations or be permitted to desecrate non-aggressive employees’ careers and lives.

Pioneering companies lead the way proclaiming the human right to safe workplaces and inspire healthy workplace cultures. Authentic leaders exhibit high awareness of the importance of psychological safety, trust and effective communication. Organisations are consciously aware, actively respond and protect the most talented employees who may fall under the savage hand of perpetrators of psychological violence. Organisations, Occupational Health and HR must now look at how they promote someone to a management position, and whether they may be a psychological risk to employee safety and wellbeing. HR is now including psychological safety as a requirement for promotion to management (Dr Timothy Clark).

It is time ethical and enlightened leaders transform structural, institutional and systematic unjust abusive workplaces and end the inherited repeated patterns of immoral behaviour. “Supremacy is a dangerous notion”; “redefine what it is to be a human being”. (Larry Ward 2021). Organisations need to uphold the human in humanity and put an end to workplace psychological traumatic violence, grief, unsafe practices and protect targets of abuse who have a legal right to Psychological Safety at Work.

Companies that achieve market recognition as great innovators must also earn the reputation of being ethical employers who ensure that their employees are safe, secure and happy. Employee talent is what makes organisations’ giant leaders in the global market today and employees must be rewarded with a culture that cares, shares and dares to be a global leader in ethical workplace behaviour. Change starts within and is a moral compass of an organisations level of ethical awareness. In order to affect change or transformation an organisation firstly needs to understand how individuals work in relation to an organisation as an entity, as a culture. An organization’s vision, perception, attitude, value and intention must include the restructuring of harmful ways. The Power of Ethical Culture celebrates the enlightenment of human worth and invites humanity into the 21st Century.

Ethem Duygulu and Emir Özeren : The effects of leadership styles and organizational culture on firm’s innovativeness (Amabile, 1996, cited by Poškien, 2006). Published 20/8/2009

Neil Patel : Inside Google’s Culture of Success and Employee Happiness. Inside Google's Culture of Success and Employee Happiness ( Published: 11/02/2013

Dr Timothy Clark: The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety: Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation Published 3/3 2020

Larry Ward and Pamela Ayo Yetunde: America’s Racial Karma : An Invitation to Heal. Black & Buddhist 21/2/ 2020

Simplilearn: Top Technology Companies to Work for in 2021 Published 30/10 2020

24 views0 comments


bottom of page