How do I get Ethics Training?

T. Webster
T. Webster
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Businessman giving a thumbs-up

Ethics training may be obtained where you work, in school, or from an outside agency. Employers typically provide ethics training for employees to teach them how to conduct themselves according to the best interests of a company and its stakeholders and customers. In addition to teaching the difference between "right and wrong" behavior, training may cover laws and regulations a business must follow.

An advantage to getting in-house training is that the program may be tailored to a specific industry. A disadvantage is that it can be time-consuming for staff. To save time, a business may outsource its training program.

Common topics addressed through training are potential conflicts of interest, misuse of funds or resources, deliberate mismanagement of contracts, and protecting intellectual property. It is also important for ethics training to address issues relating to particular positions. In customer service jobs, employees are likely to be taught the proper demeanor and honesty required while dealing with the public. Management ethics training may include areas such as protecting the interests of the company and treating employees fairly.

Getting ethics training from an employer is likely to be as simple as requesting it. Companies often offer ethics training seminars for new employees or when major changes are made to an ethics policy. Meetings, a review of an ethics handbook, a video presentation, or an Internet-based course are all potential training resources. Depending on a company's needs, training may be completed on an employee's own time or during company hours.

Aside from employees of private companies, government officials may be required to complete an ethics training program. Some of these programs are available on government websites and may be reviewed by anyone for free. Similar to employee training, government officials learn various laws and conduct expectations in fulfilling their positions.

Employees or officials seeking training on their own should ask their business or agency for recommendations. A more in-depth study of ethics issues is often available through colleges, universities, and community programs. These courses may cover philosophical approaches to ethics or how ethics relate to certain professions.

Some ethics training programs consist of reading an ethics policy and signing a compliance agreement. It is questionable whether this is truly a form of training. In-person training, for example, is considered effective because it allows the use of real-life examples and provides an opportunity to ask questions. Ethics training programs often conclude with a statement that an employee or official may be disciplined if the ethics policy is violated. Actions may include being reprimanded, fired, or charged with a crime, if applicable.

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Discussion Comments


My company requires all of its employees to undergo corporate ethics training every three years. It is a conference that goes on for a day and covers many of the most pressing ethical issues that pertain to our industry.

I appreciate their focus on ethics I just wish they took it more seriously. Often, the focus is less on what is right and more on what is best for the company. I realize that I am getting paid and I have an obligation but ethics is not about blind loyalty.


This is kind of an unconventional answer but I think you can get a great training in ethics by reading novels. I once heard someone say that the novel was the last great forum of ethics in the world and I think there is some truth to that.

Many novels are about characters, some very real and other intentionally unreal who are faced with decisions of right and wrong, good and bad, ambiguity and indecision. Unlike philosophy which tends to be dry and inaccessible, the narrative of a novel allows for a really deep exploration of all the issues raised by various ethical questions.

And ethics is not about answers, it is about the process. That process plays out beautifully on the page.

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