By Subramaniam Ananthram, Senior Lecturer, International Business, Curtin University and Christopher Chan, Associate Professor of Human Resource Management, York University, Canada
Can religion and spirituality promote ethical behaviour in the workplace? It’s a contentious issue, but our research comprising interviews with forty Indian top level executives suggests it might.
We found that virtues embedded within the various traditions of religion and spirituality (Hinduism, Jainism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism) play a role in ethical decision-making in the workplace.
Thirty three executives explained that these traditions promoted virtues such as integrity, flexibility, moral excellence, tolerance and responsibility. An executive in the automobiles sector reflected on the virtue of flexibility:
…our Islamic religion teaches us to not shut the door on others’ viewpoints. I employ this philosophy or value or whatever you want to call it in my job. I listen to my teammates. We work out our differences of opinion and come to some acceptable middle ground at all times trying to value our core beliefs.
Some executives even felt it was better to resign from their position when faced with an ethical dilemma.