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What Skills Are Necessary for an Ethics Officer?

By Tiffany Manley
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An ethics officer is responsible for developing and enforcing ethical policies within an organization. To do this job successfully, skills such as honesty, fairness, objectivity, professionalism and the ability to keep a clear head during times of crisis are all important skills for an ethics officer to have. In addition to these skills, specific training in ethics, cultural customs and decision-making skills might be helpful.

Honesty is perhaps one of the most important skills that an ethics officer should have. Although it is not always popular or easy to be honest, this trait ensures that the officer deals with each situation honestly, creating uniformity in enforcement of the ethical code. As individuals see that an ethics officer is honest and handles every situation honestly and consistently, they will likely respect the officer and the policies that he or she has put in place.

Ethics officers also should be fair in their business dealings with others. Just as with honesty, being fair is not always easy, but it is important for an ethics officer to always try to be fair. Playing favorites, no matter how unintended it might be, gives employees little reason to have faith in the abilities of the officer. When the officer is fair, employees know what to expect from him or her, and this open communication and understanding is one thing that might make a business thrive.

Having the ability to objectively view a situation helps an ethics officer see all sides of a situation without becoming emotionally involved. He or she should have compassion and give respect to each person involved, and he or she should understand each person’s perspective. When resolving a situation, the officer should have the ability to describe the decision so that each person understands it.

An ethics officer who displays professionalism in all of his or her dealings is likely to quickly gain the respect of his or her colleagues. Employees want to know that the officer will always hold the company and the employees’ well-being in the highest regard. This demonstrates concern and respect for the company and its employees as well as a desire to do what is best for them.

Ethical dilemmas sometimes occur in volatile and chaotic situations. Rash thinking and hastily made decisions have the potential to severely hurt a company’s reputation. An ethics officer who knows how to remain calm instead of reactive in the midst of chaos is important to the success and overall image of a company.

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