The Difference between Ethics and Compliance

Understanding the difference between ethics and compliance is essential. “Compliance is following the law, while ethics is doing what is right regardless of what the law says” (Watson, 2014, para. 2). Acknowledging the differences between ethics and compliance can support the work culture and communications in the organization. At times, to be compliant does not represent “doing the right thing.” For example, there isn’t a law for society to recycle, but there would be cleaner beaches and cleaner water if there were one. The same ideology applies to the similarities between the two. Ethics and compliance are both instruments to achieve and contain order. In addition, both prevent unethical behaviors in the workplace. The company’s culture communicates and executes the backbone of an ethical and compliant workforce.

My current organization executes phenomenally with compliance. But an ethics officer would be an excellent fit for our workplace culture. In the past year and a half, my organization bought another company. At the beginning of the transaction, the merger focused on aligning both companies’ cultures. And as time has passed, the employees of the original organization have had to clean up after the new employees’ work ethics. For instance, my organization trains and develops leaders to motivate teams. But for the new company, the managers cannot adapt to our culture. The transition does not help the leaders in my organization become successful in their goals when they are consistently cleaning up after other managers. “Employees desire a workplace that they consider just, fair and right” (Gonzalez-Padron, 2015, p. 100). As a result of the lack of an ethical workplace, many tenure leaders are leaving the company. My organization would benefit from an ethics officer to balance both cultures and integrate every leader to continue being the best company I’ve ever worked for.

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