Work Ethics: Fairness and Equality in the Workplace

Work ethics include the beliefs that jobs are defined by values and behaviors and guided by respect, coexistence, a sense of justice, professionalism, and humility.
Work Ethics: Fairness and Equality in the Workplace
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Commitment, honesty, fairness, and a sense of justice. Work ethics include attributes that all workers look for in their companies and that they also strive to assume themselves. They’re a set of values that enrich work settings and make them respectful spaces where you can work alongside others and develop as a professional.

At the end of the last century, philosophers such as André Gorz pointed out that work ethics had become increasingly less present. In fact, he claimed that, in the post-industrial society, it was discovered that working more wasn’t synonymous with producing more and that producing more didn’t make people happy. Furthermore, the microchip revolution, as he called it, was dehumanizing jobs.

Today, we need to create more nutritious and respectful work scenarios. Because, when a set of basic standards of behavior and norms are stipulated and followed regarding what is and isn’t acceptable to do at work, the mental health and motivation of the entire human team in a company improve.

Let’s take a closer look at work ethics.

Harassment, and spreading gossip and rumors are clear examples of a lack of work ethics.

Woman does a paper on work ethics

The pillars of work ethics

In a research work conducted by George Mason University, Virginia (USA) in 2002, it was claimed that work ethics can improve the progress of any economy. In fact, as soon as these basic pillars are applied in a labor scenario, well-being and economic efficiency are optimized.

As the sociologist and economist Max Weber pointed out, an instinctive desire to earn money isn’t inherent in the nature of the human being. Indeed, people want to earn money to live, and not live just to work. However, Weber pointed out that modern capitalism drives us precisely to the latter. In other words, to have an existence that’s dominated exclusively by work.

Add to this the fact that today, work scenarios have become increasingly stressful, unfair, and precarious and we have the perfect time bomb. In addition, organizations that operate without a work ethic are inefficient, toxic, unproductive scenarios, where talent is unable to be managed.

No company or organization can be successful if they don’t apply the pillars of work ethics. Let’s take a look at them.


The first pillar of work ethics concerns respecting the interests and integrity of all of the components of an organization. This means that both the company itself and the employees must bear in mind the needs and expectations of everyone in that context.

It’s also important to know the potential and weaknesses of others in order to respect or strengthen the latter and optimize the former.


Can you trust your co-workers and bosses? Do they fulfill the functions of their positions? Work ethics require that all members meet their tasks, objectives, and deadlines. Also, they should be the kinds of figures who, thanks to their work, contribute quality to each process, harmony to the group, and support in the face of each challenge.

Dedication to the task and respect for others

A job will be carried out in the best way as long as the individual is committed to their task and respects others so that they’re also able to fulfill theirs. This relates to the entire workforce of a company, from the highest to the lowest level.

Therefore, factors such as workplace harassment and irresponsibility completely destroy what we understand as work ethics.

When there’s harmony and respect for every member of a company and each one takes full responsibility for their work, success will come.

Justice and integrity

Justice refers to the treatment given to each person who has a relationship with a work environment. It means respecting the rights of workers, customers, suppliers, investors, and even cleaning staff. Every human being deserves to be treated with dignity and that their rights be respected. In fact, this is such a basic requirement, it should never be ignored.

With regards to integrity, it’s crucial that there’s always transparency, respect, and honesty. It’s a value that we all learn from our parents, that they teach us at school, and that we apply in our jobs. Integrity means doing the right thing in every circumstance, as well as being loyal, honest, and disciplined.

figures symbolizing the work ethic

Perseverance and commitment

Perseverance is more than just a personality trait. It’s a psychological dimension that we must all develop if we want to be successful in life. Therefore, in a work setting, it’s essential that members have a consistent attitude, and know how to handle any frustration in achieving their goals.

The opposite of perseverance is passivity. This trait doesn’t create harmony. For example, if you have a passive colleague or leader, it’s extremely difficult to commit yourself or carry out your own work. The same thing happens with commitment.

Only people committed to their team, their workers, their co-workers, and their business project contribute to the advancement and well-being of the organization.

Professional attitude

Professionalism is an attitude that integrates all of the aforementioned dimensions. It defines people who carry out their work with seriousness, efficiency, respect, and skill.

Cooperation: the art of knowing how to be a team

Cooperating means having skills to create a team, share, reach agreements, know how to disagree, understand others, respect differences, help, and empathize. In fact, all of these areas make up a beautiful mosaic of indisputable values that build the most powerful organizations. Therefore, they should be promoted.

Only in this way can work be more dignified, satisfying, and optimized. This isn’t only to achieve objectives, but also to contribute to human potential.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Schawbel, Dan (December 21, 2011). “Reviving Work Ethic in America” Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  • Miller, M.J., Woehr, D.J., & Hudspeth, N. (2002). The meaning and measurement of work ethic: Construction and initial validation of a multidimensional inventory. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 60, 451–489.
  •  T. Marek; W. Karwowski; M. Frankowicz; J. Kantola; P. Zgaga (2014). Human Factors of a Global Society: A System of Systems Perspective CRC Press. pp. 276–277. ISBN 978-1-4665-7287-4.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.