Ethical Practices for Sikh Professionals

How about calling in sick because it’s a beautiful day, and going to the beach? Countless policies, procedures and training is available to teach workplace ethics. At the same time, numerous instances of workplace ethics violations still come to surface. These can range from using company’s office supplies for personal use, to improper use of sick days and serious offenses like expense account fraud, or insider stock trading.

Ethical practices in the workplace cannot be different from ethical practices in our daily lives. For Sikhs, truthful living is known as Jivan Jaach and when applied properly, it takes care of all aspects of ethics – personal or professional. A Sikh derives his or her Jivan Jaach and ethical practices from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. A Sikh’s conduct in different situations doesn’t deviate from the foundational teachings of his or her Guru.

The following examples illustrate how ethical behaviour can find its way into the workplace:

  1. A Sikh executive who follows Jivan Jaach will not lie under any circumstance. This means never claiming credit for the work of other employees or, if working in a group setting, remembering to recognize the entire group’s efforts.
  2. A Sikh restaurant server who believes in sharing and knows that Waheguru is the ultimate giver, will never withhold a portion of his tips from the common pot before the tips are divided with the fellow workers.
  3. A Sikh employee who believes in sewa (selfless service), will know not to use up the last paper in the communal printer and instead, will refill the paper tray for the next person who uses the printer.
  4. A Sikh employee who believes in earning an honest living will never spend several hours a day using his work computer to shop, check out sports scores, pay bills, do online banking, or surf the news headlines.

All these examples involve personal decision making. Only the person making the decision will ever know that there was a decision but each decision will have its impact as an individual, as an employee, as a Sikh, and as a human being.

An individual’s decisions that lead to ethical violations negatively impact the workplace culture and affect co-workers. An ethical or unethical response to even small things will result in the same behaviour and mindset for larger actions.

Let us live our lives, personal and professional, according to the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Let the three pillars – reading Gurbani, doing Simran and following Jivan Jaach – be the central part of our daily lives. The result? An enriched family, workplace and community for all!

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